Everybody Needs To Mind Their Own Damn Business
Admittedly, this one starts out with an attitude intact. As many readers know from reading my other blogs, I’m blind. And because I’m blind I don’t have the luxury of transporting my ass from point “A” to point “B” quickly and easily in a car like I used to do, I use mass, public transportation. Whether it’s a plane, train or bus, there’s a group of strangers bound within a container of time and space. We share the air and the soundwaves. It’s inescapable and can be dealt with using a modicum of common sense.
Don’t smoke on the plane? I think that’s a good idea because we share the recycled air. Be reasonably clean and odor free, this may sound prissy but I like that too. It’s tight quarters, do the best you can to respect body space and we’re all happier. Well, not all, some people enjoy and even pursue a lack o dearth of body space. Keep your voice down is a good idea too. Cell phone use is unacceptable? I think that’s over the line and an unexamined gripe many people express.
Recently I was on a bus heading out of New York City. It was a regular commuter bus and it seems that the driver and two passengers who sat in the front knew each other and were engaged in a spirited, loud conversation that inspired rolling laughter. I really ahd no objection to that, after a hard day at work and for the driving dealing with New York City rush hour, laughter had a musical quality. But they weren’t quiet either.
I don’t know what they were talking about; I was absorbed with my own thoughts and ideas. About thirty minutes into the journey, my son Ryan, who had been trying to reach me and we kept exchanging messages called me on my cell phone. I answered, spoke a few words when I heard the driver sternly say “TURN OFF THE CELL PHONE!” Because I tend to be mindlessly compliant I said “good-bye” and because I tend to be incurably curious I asked “Why?”
“IT’S THE POLICY OF THE BUS LINE AND I ENFORCE IT. THERE’S A SIGN AT THE FRONT OF THE BUS.”
“There’s a Seeing Eye dog at the bottom of my feet.” We left it at that.
The brief episode got me to thinking, what is it about cell phone conversations that’s so disturbing to so many people while two or more people talking is considered normal and generally not a disruption. On Greyhound Buses, the driver always announces that if you need to use your cell phone, keep the conversation short and speak low so you don’t disturb others on the bus. That sounds reasonable enough, it seems a similar consideration to be used for all conversation: even though brevity is emphasized for cell phone use in particular. So why is a person using a cell phone with a moderate voice so objectionable?
I think it’s because most folks are quite nosey. If two people are having a conversation near me, I can coyly capture the entire adventure by simply listening. When someone is on a cell phone I can only listen to one side of the conversation and have to either imagine or be frustrated about what the other person is saying. This agitation could be easily remedied if people would learn how to mind their own damn business. Thank you Uncle Julie for giving me that wonderful line. I’ve used it often in my life. While I’m thanking people for great lines, thank you Ryan for “Volume doesn’t impress me.” It doesn’t relate to the immediate circumstance, but I’ve used that line often too.
Some, and perhaps many people have voiced strong objection to cell phone use and how disruptive it is and in response we’ve experienced an encroachment of petty rules and limitations where what’s in order might be just using some garden variety common sense and consideration. We share the little enclosure, keep you voice down. We share the little enclosure: mind your own damn business.
What’s your thinking on this subject? I’d like to hear from you: but not on the cell phone. You can reply on this blog or send an email to email@example.com. Thanks for stopping by. Prof. Dave