You've heard the story of the guy who is traveling the interstate and stops to use the restroom. In the next stall he hears a guy say, "Where are you from?" He answers, "LA".
"How long have you lived there?"
"All my life. Where are you from?"
"Can you hold for a minute? The jerk in the next stall thinks I'm talking to him."
I was that guy in the next stall! Well...almost. I came very close to jumping into one of those cell phone conversations. Just yesterday when I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, there's a guy pacing back and forth in front of my house on the sidewalk, talking a blue streak.
Now I'm old enough to remember when people were friendly enough to open conversation with complete strangers. So when, in the supermarket, I hear a voice behind me, "Hey, the melons are on sale!" I turn around to respond to this friendly stranger only to find he has this black plastic roach stuck in his ear, and he's talking out loud right next to me, but he's talking to someone else as though I didn't even exist.
When I notice people walking along babbling out loud, my first impression is, "Oh, isn't that sad. I wonder if he hears voices. I wonder if he is dangerous, or just another registered idiot. Then I realize that he has another sophisticated electronic application somewhere on his head, and I'm the only idiot here.
Maybe that's what I dislike the most about cell phone etiquette--or lack thereof. And it is twice as bad when you are with family members and friends. It is so natural to answer, or to try to understand what that last comment meant in our conversation, only to realize that he is no longer talking to me but on the phone to someone else. I thought I was saying something important, but present company is always put on hold in deference to the incoming call. Now if he has his phone set to vibrate I really have no clue when he's on the phone or talking to me. If I am not left feeling foolish, I am at least left feeling very unimportant. Here I am telling an interesting story of what happened the other day, and suddenly I'm talking to nobody.
Have you been in a room where stories are being swapped? Have you experienced the extreme dis of having others interrupt you and redirect the conversation in another direction? Well now they do it in high tec with cell phones.