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Cell phone users: courtesy and common sense, please

July 11th, 2011 4:50 pm by Staff Report

Good manners often go hand-in-hand with common sense. Most people with the latter would never think of carrying on a very loud and a very personal conversation with a friend in a crowded movie theater. They know that such discussions should be kept out of earshot of strangers. They also know it is impolite to inflict such private conversations on other theater patrons.
Yet there are some Americans who seem to forget these simple rules of decorum when they grip a mobile phone. It’s too bad the new “smart” phones can’t compensate for the rudeness of their users.
Despite numerous signs and recorded messages in movies theaters reminding patrons to silence their cell phones, some customers refuse to heed.
Thankfully, folks in our area are not prone to such rudeness. Theaters, restaurants and churches here haven’t had to resort to the extreme measures some businesses have taken in other parts of the country to silence cell phone conversations.
When a phone user in Texas was ejected from a movie theater for texting, she decided to leave an irate voicemail message for the manager of the Austin-based chain. As The New York Times reported recently, Tim League, the chief executive of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, decided to use the message to warn other patrons of what could happen to them if they violated the theater’s policy.
“At the Alamo Drafthouse, we have a simple rule: If you talk or text during a movie, we kick you out,” reads the text at the beginning of a public service announcement now being shown at the chain’s theaters. The announcement includes the actual voicemail the customer left after being kicked out.
The caller asks if “you guys actually enjoy treating your customers like dirt?” She also uses an expletive, which is bleeped out, before concluding her rant with: “Thanks for taking my money, jerk.” The recording ends with another bleeped out curse word.
“You’re welcome!,” responds the text on the screen. “Thanks for not coming back to the Alamo, texter!”
The customer is not always right and some can be downright rude, say theater owners who are tired of fielding complaints about cell phone use. An official with the National Association of Theater Owners told the Associated Press recently that the organization looked at technology in 2004 that would block cell phone signals in theaters.
While the idea was supported by 60 percent of moviegoers, theater owners dropped the notion after it was strongly opposed by the other 40 percent.
Instead, theater owners are hoping good manners will eventually catch up with the burgeoning technology.
The same is true of restaurant owners, who routinely field complaints from patrons who are tired of hearing the cell phone conservations of diners at the next table.
For those who may be challenged when it comes to either good manners or common sense, there is website that can help guide them in the right direction when it comes to cell phone etiquette. offers a number of tips for how to be a responsible cell phone user. The first is to refrain from such conversations in public.
If you do feel it is absolutely necessary to talk on your mobile phone in a public place, remember these are not one of the land-based telephones of the early 20th century. There is no need to shout on a cell phone to be heard. Use your regular tone of voice.
Finally, don’t forget to silence your phone in places where a ringtone or message alert can be most noticeable and annoying. Just turn the blessed things off when you are in a movie theater, restaurant, church or symphony concert.

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