Off Topic: Top Ten Tuesday (Cell Phone Etiquette)

Maybe it’s just me. I’m not a frequent caller, so when I do show up on the caller ID people assume it’s important. Or maybe not. Just in case, here’s a post on my pet peeve of the week.

News flash: it is not mandatory to pick up every call.

My cell phone comes with a few handy buttons for when I can’t take a call. There’s the volume button, which permits me to turn off the sound. There’s the red-phone End button, which permits me to shut it up and deny a call. And there’s also the option of “send to voicemail” on most recent smartphone models.

So, here’s an off-topic top ten for Tuesday (a la BoSD and with her help)

Top Ten Times Not to Pick Up Your Cell Phone

1 – In class. Yes, I know. The lights are off and the projector is on, you’re sitting in the back and stage whispering so he can’t hear you over the sound of his own voice. Please: don’t.

2 – When you can’t talk – eg: juggling a screaming baby while making dinner, driving, etc. I’m not trying to victimize you. If you can’t take the call, don’t.

3 – When you’re sleeping. For love of somnia! I really don’t need the guilt of hearing your “just woke up” voice on the other end, no matter how much you assure me that you had to get up in just a few minutes anyway.

4 – When you’re davening. For starters, you shouldn’t be looking at your phone when you’re talking to God. But in either case, do you really think you can address my concerns using a vocabulary comprised entirely of “nu nu, uh uh”?

5 – When you don’t have service or are about to lose it. “Hi I’m about to go underground *crackle crackle* ble—“ was not exactly what I had in mind when I called.

6 – When you’re currently speaking to someone more important. First off, it’s kind of rude to put your mother/boss on hold so you can tell your friend that you can’t talk to her. Especially since that’s exactly what I’d assume if you just didn’t pick up. And I’d also assume that you’d return my call, so there’s no need to tell me that either. So just send me to voicemail and finish you conversation.

7 – When you’re in a crowded noisy place and won’t be able to hear. Phones pick up sound a whole lot better than they receive it. I’ll hear everything but you, and you won’t be able to hear me anyway.

8 – While in the bathroom. ‘Nuff said. Just call me back.

9 – When you’re out with friends. Because you’re going to start out being friendly, and just when we hit the purpose of the conversation, you’re going to realize how rude you’re being and ask me to call back later. A waste of both of our time and rude to your friends anyway.

10 – When you’re expecting an important phone call from someone else exactly now, and will practically hang up on me when it comes.

I don’t know why, but I’d much rather be sent to voicemail then get a voice and be told that I can’t talk to it. Anyone with me?


16 thoughts on “Off Topic: Top Ten Tuesday (Cell Phone Etiquette)

  1. I’m with you on a lot of them but not on #3.
    I make NO EFFORT to hide my sleepy voice, when somebody has the poor manners to call me after midnight or around 5:15 am, and blithely say, “Oh, I’m not waking you, am I?”. “YES, YOU ARE – and you would have known that if you’d taken a moment to glance at the clock”.
    If you have to wonder if you might be waking me, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL INSTEAD…..
    Why should I be nice and polite, when the caller is not?

  2. G6 – I’m talking about cell phones. If you leave the ringer on and near your bed, it’s your problem. And you could just hit the END button instead of the CALL one. Although when I’ve had this experience, it was mostly while calling fellow students at 11am.

  3. Bad4 –
    I still disagree with you on this one.
    It is most decidedly NOT my problem. I can leave my ringer on to accept calls that I need to receive and still reasonably expect people to conform to certain standards of etiquette. It boggles my mind nowadays to see what people consider “appropriate” calling times.
    And regarding your friends who are alseep at 11 – – – that’s because they were up calling ME at 2 am 😉

  4. While I strongly agree that picking up the phone is NOT mandatory, I disagree with most of your scenarios. I try not to pick up when I’m playing with my son, eating supper, having a face-to-face conversation with someone, or other situations where not only is it rude to pick up, but where I can make the statement (sometimes I literally say it) “I’m not picking up because what I’m doing with you right now is more important to me.”
    However, some people (like me) are voicemail-phobic, especially because cell phone providers these days have you personalize a message, but still have their own ‘To leave a voice message, press 1 now or just wait for the tone…’ which makes the whole process a hassle. I’d rather pick up to let the person know I know they called, and then call back after I get out of the tunnel/restaurant/shooting range.

  5. When my phone rings while I’m asleep, I pick up instinctively before I’m even really awake. I then proceed to yell at the waker upper (assuming it’s an early [eg before 8ish weekdays and 9ish sundays) because my friends should have learned by now not to bother me until I have have had a chance to wake up and have coffee. I don’t want to be called at 730 on a sunday to find out if I want to play baseball at 4 in the afternoon. I don’t want to be called at 730 on a sunday for anything really, unless it’s an emergency.

  6. Although I agree with the point, I dont necessarily agree with all the scenarios that were given. For example, if you are going underground, you can answer the phone to let the person know to call you back in a minute, instead of waiting an hour.

  7. Big letters: NOT ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Picture it: a quiet trainfull of sleepy commuters then the “Final Countdown” tinnily plays, and one voice rings out “Did you, like, love my gym? I’m on a restricted carb diet, and the Powerade syrup works really well . . .” and so on. What do you know, you’ve just won thirty enemies for life! Come on down!

    When non-Jews do it, I’m just mildly annoyed. But when frum Jews do it, it echoes BOSD’s recent post, “What You Didn’t Think About.” I know your bored. I know you’re chalishing for someone to talk to to make this blah train tide go a little faster. But you’ve got to think bigger.

    And yeah, if you can’t talk, don’t pick up. And if you don’t like voicemail, don’t leave a message. Either the caller ID got you, or you’ll call back later, and she can pick up when she can.

    I, frankly, happen to like not being found. When I go shopping, when I’m in the library, when I’m in the office, I’m in middle of life here. Sure, it’s a good time for you, but what about me? I don’t want to talk now. Send me an email.

  8. G6 I agree that after calling hours, a person is better off sending an email. I will pick up the phone if I hear it ring later than I want to take calls just in case there is an emergency. But some people just have no sense that only emergencies warrant calls between 11 PM and 8 AM. In fact, I would extend the times not to call to 10 PM to 9 AM unless you know the person’s habits. Yes, they may well be up at those time, but when settling down or getting ready to face the day, most of us don’t want to start chatting.

    Nitpick for Bad4. In your last sentence, you mean “than” for the comparison rather than “then” for what happens next.

  9. I am older and I always picked up the phone because…

    if someone is calling us it must be important, or, you can never tell it might be an emergency. I am trying to get over that. I will screen my home phone but I do pick up all my cell calls because … it must be an emergency.

    I think it is a life style issue. In my youth calling was infrequent and you had to be tethered to a device. Long distance and international calling were prohibitively expensive etc.

    I also was not really “an important person” and never had secretaries or other assistants to stand between me and business contacts. Thus, I always picked up the phone.

    I will do many of the things bad4 doesn’t like just to let a person know that I’m not ignoring them and will call back soon.

  10. Oh do I agree with you on this. No one, short of a doctor on call for that time period, needs to be available to others 24/7. Just because cell phones exist doesn’t mean that common sense has to fly out the window (and courtesy as well). Callers need to get the idea that if someone else is not picking up they are doing something that precludes talking on the phone at that particular moment. As to picking up and saying “I’ll talk to you later,” that should be obvious to the caller. Just leave a message.

    The strange part is that some of these callers would have no problem with a landline in just leaving a message. They wouldn’t call a landline at some crazy hour of the night unless it was a real emergency. They ought to remember that when it comes to cellphones.

  11. There are some people who dont mind being called at all hours cuz we’re usually up. Hence, it doesnt bother me that in the one instance that i happen to go to sleep early, how are my friends to know that tonight is the exception..

    Also you have to know who it is. There are people i would never call after 9 some people i ONLY call after 12 have to know your audience.

  12. #8 is THE WORST and I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve witnessed (at least aurally) making use of a dorm or public restroom stall while talking to their wife/girlfriend/fiancee/friend. I don’t know why this is acceptable whatsoever – leaving the clear halachic prohibitions aside. I always feel awful on behalf of the female voice I hear emanating from the phone, would any woman ever condone this sort of behavior!?

  13. This is so duh. Why was this written? The people who don’t know this never will. The only time you don’t pick up fones is when you don’t want to. Simple as that.

  14. My position is unless you are on call ie, DR, NP you must inform the person PRIOR to the Shiduch date that this is beyond your control. Idealy, you would arrange for someone else to take call, but if you are a single practitioner, this sometimes is not an option. Having sat across from a prospective fellow, who answered his phone every time it rang, If I had come in my own car, I would have left immediately – the next best thing was never to answer any of his calls and explain to the Shadchun his rude and unexceptable behavior and wish him well on his search for a girl who accept this kind of boorish behavior
    Shira from LA

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