A Very Solemn Vow

Cell phone etiquette demands that we don’t talk, text, tweet, or Google while in church, at someone’s house, at a party, on an airplane, at dinner, in a restaurant, in a doctor’s office, in line at the store, at work, in our cars, in a theater, in a waiting room, in an elevator, at school, or while walking on a crowded sidewalk. 

These cellular devices of rudeness violate so many rules of etiquette, it seems the only way to use our phones politely is to put them in a drawer and walk away.  (Set the ringer to silent first, of course.)

However, etiquette is only helpful to us if it’s realistic.  And, frankly, asking a nation (a world?) to stop using their phones in public; to go back to calendars, maps, answering machines, little black books, address books, cameras, and “Help.  Please call 911” sunscreens; seems to me slightly unrealistic.  The phones are here to stay.  (Thank God because I really like my phone.) 

We don’t need more guidance on cell phone faux pas.  We need realistic guidance about how we CAN use our phones in public.

Never one to allow an etiquette need to go unmet, I give you the following pledge.  Now raise your right hand and repeat after me:

The Cell Phone Pledge of Good Conduct in Public

I, (insert name here), do solemnly swear that

  1. I will never choose the face of my phone over the face of the person in front of me.
  2. When I need to use my phone in a store I will keep my volume down and not block people from something important like the coffee filters.  If I need to stop and talk, I will move out of the flow of traffic.
  3. As I’m in public my language and stories will be G-rated.
  4. I will not expect the people around me to whisper or tip-toe because I’m on the phone.
  5. When I’m at a social event I will only answer the phone for work, my spouse, or the babysitter.
  6. I will pull over the car if the blinking light on my phone is too much temptation.
  7. If I must talk on the phone in line, I will end the call before it’s my turn to check-out.
  8. If I need to answer the phone when out with friends or family, (see number 5) I will excuse myself from the table and/or room.
  9. If I’m pushing a shopping cart and need to text or email, I will find a good spot to stop so I don’t run over you or your children.
  10. If a ringing phone would be disruptive, I will set my phone to silent or vibrate.
  11. When people are stuck in close proximity to me (line at post office … ahem, ahem …) I will return your call once I’m done.  If it’s a true emergency, I will keep it brief or give up my place in line.
  12. I acknowledge that “text” does not mean “must respond immediately.”
  13. When I’m spending time with my kids, I will let calls go to voice mail because their childhood is too fleeting to be the background to my cell phone conversations, tweets, texts, or Facebook updates.
  14. I don’t have a number 14 but never like to end lists or solemn pledges on 13.  Not that I’m superstitious – I was even married on the 13th – it was the only time the venue (Powell Gardens outside Kansas City if you’re curious) was available.  But I digress …

So help me God.  Amen.

Consideration and convenience can coexist.  Go forth and dial kindly.

21 thoughts on “A Very Solemn Vow

  1. I had a friend who attended a funeral in Ks City when an attendees phone rang. The offender could not have had a worse ringtone–it was from the Wizard of Oz and rang out ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead….”

  2. Hi Melia!
    That has to be the worst cell phone story I’ve heard! I was in church once when the Darth Vader theme song rang out during The Lord’s Prayer. Of course, when things like that happen it always seems like the person takes forever to find their phone and the off button!

    Thanks for reading,

  3. Very well put! I’m just tired of everyone answering their phones at inopportune times. Life was so much easier before technology. (Quick story…we were at someone’s house a few weeks ago and their home phone rang. We have not had a home phone line in almost 5 years. Emily asked “what is that”? It was almost as sad as the time she came in from the garage carrying a VHS tape and wanted to know what it was.

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I agree that life was easier. I also feel like we had more time pre-cell phones which seems like a step backwards. (Not that I’d be willing to give up my phone!)

      I think it’s hilarious that Emily didn’t know the home phone (or VHS tape)! You should show her a phone with an actual cord. 🙂 My kids still don’t understand when someone uses a camera that doesn’t instantly show you the picture.

      I think I feel old now,

  4. Terrific post, Amy. I like that you tend towards etiquette sprinkled with common sense and realistic expectations.

    I really like #2 (something important like the coffee filters) and of course #13.

    Take care,


  5. This list is bang-on, Amy! It needs to be printed and posted on refrigerators everywhere!

    I wonder if it’s okay to add you to my Blogroll? Like Chase, I appreciate your common sense (and often, funny) approach to letting us know how we should behave!


    1. Thank you!! I would be absolutely honored to be on your blogroll (I plan on creating on in the near future — or at least plan on putting it on the to-do list!).

      CONGRATS by the way on Freshly Pressed, so exciting. I’ve loved reading your blog and am glad to have found it through the comments on Chase’s blog. My favorite part of blogging so far is connecting with amazing people!

      Thanks for reading & the blogroll.

      Have a great weekend,

  6. Was just reading through your blog after seeing you on freshly pressed. I really love your posts…and this one is right on! I hate seeing parents ignoring their kids (especially when said kids are disrupting other people) in favor of their cell phones.
    I’m currently having technology over load and retaliated by deleting my facebook account…baby steps lol.
    Keep up the great posts…would it be ok if I add you to my blog roll?


  7. I just discovered your blog via the Freshly Pressed for today. After reading a few entries, I just wanted to say … it’s a keeper! haha I hope you don’t mind if I add you to my own “blog roll”.

    I love a good etiquette column especially when it’s relevant to the world we live in today. Thanks for making your’s relevant.

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