We are halfway through the first decade of the new century, so of course by now we're all thoroughly accustomed to cell phones.
Grade-school kids have 'em stuffed in their backpacks, for crying out loud, that's how common they are.
No, we've pretty much accepted that people use their phones while they're out 'n' about. But cell-phone etiquette - ah, now that's another matter.
There are plenty of ways cell-phone users can - and do - demonstrate their disregard of polite behavior.
But if I had to pick, I'd say the No. 1 issue that's most irksome would have to be THE WAY PEOPLE JUST SHRIEK INTO THEIR CELL PHONES, NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE, IN FACT, THE MORE PUBLIC THE LOCATION, THE LOUDER THEY SEEM TO TALK!
So, on behalf of ringing ears everywhere, let me make this urgent plea to all you cell-phone shriekers - we, the general public, do not want to hear to hear you shout about:
●The step-by-step description of your colonoscopy procedure while we are waiting behind you in line for movie tickets;
●The never-ending negotiations you conduct with your spouse while strolling through the video store ("But, honey, we got an action movie last time! I want a comedy tonight! What's wrong with Notting Hill, anyway? You've been promising me that we can watch it for two years!");
●The raging debate by the supermarket dairy case as to whether one almost-full gallon of milk is enough to meet your household's needs over the weekend, oh, and by the way, are there any eggs left in the fridge?;
●The compelling argument you make in support of your best friend's decision to break up with her boyfriend ("He is, like, a total jerk. He can't even dance! Plus, I never wanted to tell you this before, but that dirtbag actually hit on me once while you were in the restroom.");
It's bad enough that ours is a confessional society where we feel completely free to discuss highly personal details in public - but to do so while yelling into the phone while in the middle of a crowd?
Spare us. Spare us all. Please.
In the nation's capital, the Metro Transit Police arrested a woman for talking too loudly on her cell phone.
Granted, D.C. transit cops tend to be a little overzealous -they also once arrested a 12-year-old girl for eating a French fry on a subway platform.
But in the case of the high-decibel cell, I rather admire their initiative.
In Nature magazine a while back, a University of Pennsylvania professor said the phenomenon of "cell yell" is likely caused because shouters have no feedback.
The schmoes on the other end of the line, in other words, aren't present to telegraph to shriekers just how loud they are.
But I'm not sure I buy this, since all the cell yellers would have to do is notice the frowning faces around them.
Believe me, it is entirely possible to say "put a sock in it" without ever uttering a word.