I ventured out of the house today for the first time in a while, just to take the air, as it were. I betook myself down to the downtown area of my little neighborhood of Boston, and wandered up and down the street, and in and out of the shops. At one point in my window shopping, I noticed a woman in her late 50’s, early 60’s, sitting in a booth at the little Thai place downtown. She was alone at her table, and alone in the restaurant, but for the server, so far as I could see. She was sitting there at the table, fiddling with her appetizer, and talking on her cell phone. I was somewhat taken aback, and I stood there for 2-3 minutes longer. She continued to stay on the phone, chatting and having a real conversation, gesturing with her hand and all.
I was so turned off. For some reason this woman’s apparent age made me think she’d have a better sense of public manners, but I then questioned my own sense of what’s proper. I thought this woman should have either wrapped up the call quickly, at the table, or better yet, gotten up to take the call out to the foyer of the restaurant or even outside. It shouldn’t matter that the restaurant was empty but for her– she was not in her living room, and therefore, should not have felt free to have a conversation in a public place like a restaurant.
I’m certainly not perfect. I have forgotten to shut off my phone at a restaurant. I have, on occasion, left it powered up on purpose, because I had to take a call. But I apologize, before I leave the table, and go to the foyer or the front sidewalk to complete my business. I do use my cell phone in public, while walking down the street or in stores. But I do try to pull over, off to the side, and to speak quietly, so that I’m not inflicting my business on others. I’m not trying to protect my privacy– I’m trying to protect yours, your right to not have to know my business, to have a quiet meal with only the chatter of your chosen companion, to be left to your own thoughts amid only the ordinary squeals of car brakes and greetings of in-person meetings.
I don’t know– maybe I’m being too much of a prude?