Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cell phones (and more etiquette)

All cell phones nowadays have a silent ring mode--you can set them so they only flash, or do nothing, or vibrate, or whatever, so the people around you aren't disturbed when the phone rings. You might want to consider setting your phone to a ring mode that isn't disruptive and then putting it in, say, your pocket so only you'll know when it goes off. I won't begrudge you the right to remain available in case you're an emergency physician or a parent of young children, but if something happens that you need to deal with, it's none of our business, and it should stay that way unless you really need to tell us that you have to go deal with someone bleeding to death. Leaving your phone in a purse or velise and then turning it up so you can hear it through the bag at arm's reach (and please keep track of your ringtone--even if a ringing phone doesn't sound like yours, assume it is anyway and check; don't let it keep ringing while you wonder how long that jerk is going to let his phone go) may seem convenient to you, but it's quite the opposite for everyone around you while you rummage through your personal effects trying to find it and then decide to answer it or not.

We are sympathetic to your emergencies. We are less so to your casual call screening.

I'm not sure, but I suspect all phones also have a feature where you can hit one of the buttons that are for use when the phone's closed, and the ringing will terminate, without immediately shunting the call to your voice mail. If you're the kind of person who has to ruminate on call screening, ruminate on finding that button before you take the phone out of the house again. You can stare at that phone all you want, after digging it out of your bag, and not bother anyone else--in fact, it might even help you ruminate more quickly, since there won't be that jarring noise coming from the device in your hand or angry-looking people all around making you nervous.

Am I still the only person who understands that the ice makers in freezers will automatically stop when the tray is full?

The yellow traffic light means "slow down and prepare to stop." It does not mean "hurry up; it will be red soon." The early part of the red light is not an ambiguous safety margin. While it is not necessarily a ticketable offense not to have completely cleared an intersection by the time the light turned red, if you can remember doing it more than once in any given week, you're probably being a little reckless. The standard is "If the light will be red before I can make it past the intersection, I should stop before reaching it," not "I can keep going unless I have the time and distance to stop before reaching a red light." In the interest of safety, assume that the cross traffic is going to underestimate the time between their light turning red and yours turning green, since it's going to vary depending on location and time of day. Also assume that the guy in front of you is going to stop whenever the light turns yellow; probably more than 99% of rear-end accidents are the fault of the driver of the rear car.

Just sayin'.

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