On Cell Phones on Queues


by V.S. Frimmit

LATELY, I HAVE SEEN A RASH OF HEINOUSLY INCONSIDERATE BEHAVIOR in the urban populace regarding one particular personal accessory: that is, the cell phone. Men and women and children, oblivious to their environment and to their fellow living beings, chatting away while walking or jogging or doing yoga, in elevators, on trains, and, absolutely worst of all, in lines. These people assume that silence is not golden and need confirmation of their self-importance through constant narration ("I'm getting out of the subway. I’m two blocks from your house. I’m getting some milk. I’m one block from your house," etc.); and, perhaps spurred on by the plague of reality TV, seem to feel the need to speak unguardedly in unsoft tones about the most private of subjects in public ("I still haven’t found those panties!"). This behavior is selfish, rude, and annoying and is something up with which we should not put!

Much of the blame for this unconscionable behavior may be placed on our mulitask-happy society, the need to do at least two things at a time. But that leads inexorably to the lessening of enjoyment of any of the individual things. And it is no fun to overhear either. You want to read your paperback or play a heady round of Sudoku. But when it is one person saying nothing of use to the air, it shatters the wall that one naturally puts round one’s self in the City. What is worse is that while these people are busy on their ubiquitous mini-phones, they are not giving their full attention to the task at hand, and when they approach the cashier or cook or clerk, they inevitably slow the entire process down.

And no one likes being in a line.

Here is what I therefore propose: In every store, restaurant, theater bar, and bank -- any place where people must queue up -- there be TWO lines. One line for normal people. And another other line for those on cell phones, those who insist on broadcasting their inane half-dialogues.

First, this allows the line with considerate, decent, and unselfish people to queue steadily and efficiently, because they deserve it. The people with cell phones will be on a line that takes forever, a period of time that should pass agreeably to them since they have someone to talk to while they wait, having ridiculous conversations in a volume louder than normal dialogue, indeed, a sort of cacophony from hell.

Second, the cell phone-less line will safer for those who deserve to be safe. The cell-phoned line boasts a succession of mini-antennae and cadmium batteries, and the callers enjoy a near-orgiastic discharging of electromagnetic energy all over each other, thus creating a miniature brain cancer cluster. Which makes one wonder if the cell phone liners should be sealed behind a lead wall.

Third, business owners need not fear that making two queues will affect business. In fact, it may improve point-of-purchase sales since these cell phone rapscallions will tarry. Also, the wise business owner may choose to post at the cell phone line the cashier, cook, or clerk who insists on talking on his/her cell phone. This way their line is held up even longer.

Enforcement of the two-line law should be a simple matter. If one of cell phoners notices -- perhaps because the person on the other end is yawning -- and thinks, Hey, that other line is going faster, that person may attempt to switch lines. This is not to be permitted, and although I know it may prove controversial, I think that tasering that cell phoner is perfectly appropriate.


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