A few days ago I flipped through the channels and came about an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” where the protagonist, Larry David, was alone in a restaurant, waiting for dinner. At the table next to him was a business man, also alone, Bluetooth earpiece active, talking loudly and gesticulating, he was clearly engrossed in a business conversation. He was obnoxious and clearly bothered everyone around him. Suddenly Larry started talking to himself, just as loud, making up an inane conversation. The business person next to him stopped his call, turned to Larry and asked him if he’d please stop since he couldn’t hear his own conversation. Larry cranked up the volume and even started a second, parallel conversation, playing as if he was putting one on hold while carrying on the other.
I have been in many situations similar to that, where I found it outright rude that somebody was actually subjecting me and everyone else around him to his private conversation. The most glaring example is on airliners, right after landing. As soon as the plane is taxiing off the runway, 140 people turn on their cell phones or Blackberries. Some read the latest emails. But many, way too many, call somebody.
“How are you?”
“Yeah, we just landed.”
“We just landed!” Yelling a little louder.
“No, I am still on the plane.”
“We’re not at the gate yet, we just landed.”
“No, I am still on the plane. I’ve got to get off first.”
Was that conversation necessary? There are probably a dozen or so of this nature going on within earshot after landing. What is the point? Another two minutes, and they could have had the conversation while walking down the concourse. At least nobody else would have had to listen to it. And another two minutes later they could have met their rides and they didn’t need to have the conversation at all.
When I listen to phone calls all around me, in airplanes and in restaurants, I come away with the clear feeling that 99% of all cell phone calls are full of inane drivel. People call people because they can, not because they have anything to say.
I don’t care for government regulation of any type, but I am thankful to the FAA for not allowing cell phone calls during flight. I simply cannot imagine being trapped for several hours surrounded by people spewing their private and pointless conversations all around them.
Perhaps we should all throw away our cell phones, without replacing them. After all, 99% of our calls do not appear to be necessary.