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I Love This Man
A student not only lets his phone ring but answers it in class -- and the professor shows the student and the phone the respect they deserve. My hero.

In a store yesterday, futilely trying to hear my own thoughts over some cellphone-blathering girl's loud inanity, all I could do was join the conversation already in progress:

"Do you know what I need?" she asked the person on the other end.

"A muzzle, just for starters," I cut in.

Posted by aalkon at October 8, 2006 9:55 AM

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When I first saw that video, Amy, I thought of you. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by: Patrick at October 8, 2006 11:18 AM

Thanks -- and you deserve the credit for it -- I forgot to add that in the link.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 11:20 AM

The professor is an asshole. Bad behavior doesn't condone bad behavior.

And I bet he had to buy the student a new cell phone...

Posted by: eric at October 8, 2006 12:34 PM

The professor was wrong to damage the kid's property -- I don't condone that. But, at the same time, I found it exceptionally satisfying to watch. A fantasy come true.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 12:46 PM

It was that!

Posted by: eric at October 8, 2006 1:18 PM

I saw this video on youtube today, and I knew you would like that. (In fact, I wanted to send you the link, but Patrick beat me to it...)

I think, a cooler reaction on behalf of the professor would have been the Al Pacino maneuver I had told you about some time ago. ;-)

Posted by: Rainer at October 8, 2006 1:18 PM

Could you remind me? Mind like a steel sieve.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 1:41 PM

Eric, the *student's* the asshole. It's certain that the professor had laid out the rules. The dozens of other students in the room had paid good money for his undivided attention, and for the privilege of giving him theirs.

Digg linked this weeks ago. I'm surprised no one's found out where this guy is or whether there were any consequences for anybody.

This blog is all about boundaries. Why do people always think they should be able to tote their most personal freight out in public?

Posted by: Crid at October 8, 2006 1:46 PM

Love it. While hoping to kill time waiting for a flight by quietly enjoying a nice Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen and a newspaper at the San Jose airport yesterday, I got the dubious (dis)pleasure of hearing all about the relationship problems and infertility treatments of the woman behind me who was chatting on her cell phone. Oy.

Posted by: deja pseu at October 8, 2006 6:51 PM

Hello Amy,

in fact, my blog entry about that Al Pacino defense is almost a year old (time flies). So, no steel sieve explanation necessary: If I had a blog, I wouldn't remember any comments someone made a year ago. Here's the entry, thanks to Google site search:

By the way, I've been wondering whether this little movie is staged. First, our irascible professor gets taped with a camera and doesn't complain at all. Second, there is no reaction at all from the audience. In a packed room like this, I would expect at least some gasps as he smashes the phone to the ground. Instead, the students are not reacting in any way. Numb to the bone. I mean, are they on tranquilizers, because his lessons are too thrilling? Or was this supposed to be a rehearsal for a remake of "Invasion of the body snatchers" or "Faculty"?

But maybe the students weren't surprised because the prof does that sort of thing on a regular basis...

Posted by: Rainer at October 9, 2006 1:43 AM

Regarding the suggestion that this was "staged," I'm not the least bit bothered by the fact that the incident was videotaped. College lectures often are.

Some have suggested that proof that the thing is staged is because the professor is dressed casually. So, what? They do that now. I was a theatre major and my acting instructor usually showed up to class in sweats.

One astute individual actually noticed the professor's resemblance to the Verizon "Can you hear me now?" guy. He does sort of look like that, doesn't he? But again, so what? There's nothing extraordinary or unusual about the guy's looks. I'm sure there are many other people who look like him.

Regarding the idea that no "gasps" were heard, so what? Maybe they were more amused and snickered to themselves, but not too loudly, since the professor barely paused in his lecture, and it's obvious he doesn't like being interrupted. Maybe they thought the student deserved it, too. He was being rude, after all. Maybe they were just stunned by it. Also, you have to notice what the mike was able to pick up. It clearly got the professor, the phone ringing and the slamming of the phone to the floor. What didn't it get? The student's phone conversation. I didn't hear one word the student uttered into his phone. So, he was obviously talking quietly enough not to be picked up by the mike, but the professor heard him plainly. So, quite possibly, there were gasps, quiet laughter, etc, but they simply weren't loud enough to be picked up by the mike.

Ironically, there is one thing that makes me wonder, more than anything else, if the thing was staged. The professor didn't say one word pertinent to the subject he was teaching. I have no idea what his subject was. There was some stuff on the chalkboard, but it wasn't clear enough to be seen.

The camera, after the phone rang, panned to the offending student. The videotaper should have stayed focused on the professor.

But in the end, I can't believe this event was staged until someone is able to find out for certain.

Posted by: Patrick at October 9, 2006 4:23 AM

By the way, Amy, thank you for putting this on your blog. I think this video is important enough to circulate. Maybe some of these idiot cell phone users will finally recognize themselves for the rude, self-important, obnoxious pricks they are.

Posted by: Patrick at October 9, 2006 4:39 AM

Lord....this reminds me of a history class I enrolled in a few semesters ago. A girl answered her cell phone, and the professor (completely justifiably) flipped out on her. Her rationale was the she had a sick relative in Saudi Arabia (um, we're on the East Coast? What are you going to do about it?). The next class, he delivered a huge lecture on cell phone usage...and of course she sauntered in late just after he'd finished and missed it. This same girl complained about another student who brought her tiny Chihuahua to class. The dog never moved or made noise, and it was quieter than that idiot's cell phone.

Posted by: amh18057 at October 9, 2006 6:47 AM

"Eric, the *student's* the asshole."

They're both assholes.

I am as equally annoyed with people's cellphone etiquette as the rest of you, but how is it any different from the general lack of civility in today's society? Road rage? Luggage carousel? Hell, I've seen fights at the goddamned post office. I'm seriously considering moving to Holland.

Posted by: Hasan at October 9, 2006 6:53 AM

Just yesterday, I had people defending themselves with my favorite "defense" -- "It's a public place." Yes, it is, which means you share it with other people, and you might be considerate of their desire to think their own thoughts rather than hear the details of when you're picking up your kid. I explained that a one-sided conversation like a cellphone call compels you to listen in a way a conversation between people who are there does not -- it compels your brain to fill in the missing part of the conversation.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 9, 2006 8:40 AM

> I'm seriously considering
> moving to Holland.

Pffft... There's nothing quite as satisfying as calling this bluff.

Dress warm! Be sure and write if you get work!

Posted by: Crid at October 9, 2006 8:51 AM

"But in the end, I can't believe this event was staged until someone is able to find out for certain."

Patrick, I'm not really sure whether it was staged or not. I was just wondering. I found it hilarious anyway. :-)

A couple of years ago, there was this video of a guy in a cubicle who got angry with his computer. First, he used his fists to "operate" the keyboard. The sound was very keyboard-unfriendly. There was another guy sitting in the next cubicle who took a peek over the wall and ducked quickly, when he saw how angry his colleague was. After slapping the monitor a couple of times, the guy took his keyboard into both of his hands and used it as a baseball bat against the monitor. The monitor fell to the floor at the first swing and the guy rose from his seat and kicked the monitor in.

At first glance, it looked very realistic, as the angle of the shot suggested a surveillance camera. However, if it really was a surveillance device that took the shot, why did the footage have sound? I honestly don't know whether these cameras do have sound, so my suspicion might be unfounded.

I never found out whether the movie was a fake or not. After a long day in front of my computer, I just found it very refreshing to watch...

Posted by: Rainer at October 9, 2006 8:53 AM

"The camera, after the phone rang, panned to the offending student. The videotaper should have stayed focused on the professor."

Automated cameras can be programmed to "follow" sound - they will redirect themselves to focus in on the loudest sound in the room. This can include an ability to zoom in and out. Classes are often filmed so that students can teleconference in to class, and/ or recorded so that students who miss class can link to the video through their school's library and "attend" after the fact.

Posted by: Michelle at October 9, 2006 9:10 AM

"A couple of years ago, there was this video of a guy in a cubicle who got angry with his computer."

Rainer, that one is a fake. Look closely, and you'll see that the computer components are not hooked up. Wires are loose.

Posted by: Radwaste at October 11, 2006 2:55 AM

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