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Scabies? Herpes? Hepatitis? An Asteroid-Sized Hemorrhoid?


Maybe this is a giant hemorrhoid blaster
the guy was coming to SF to use?

The following is a rough transcript of the message I left Wednesday afternoon on the voicemail of the guy shouting into his phone on my plane to San Francisco last week, and later, in SFO baggage claim:

I just want to tell you how INNNTERESTING it was to learn about your "PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION." I was the girl seated in front of you on the plane to San Francisco. Actually, I would have preferred to read my book on Emilie du Chatelet and Voltaire to hearing your loud cell phone conversation, but your voice pretty much took over all the available air space, so I was forced to learn about you. Then, in the baggage claim, you very helpfully shouted your phone number, so I thought I'd call you and tell you how I felt. In the future, if you have information you'd like to keep private, perhaps you should avoid shouting it in public places where other people would prefer to think their own thoughts. Just a little something to remember! Bye!

Oh yeah, I forgot. As I was leaving baggage claim, I called across to the guy, "Thanks for your phone number! I'll be calling to discuss your pre-existing medical condition!"

Tragically, when I did get around to picking up the phone, operators were not standing by to take my call.

No fair. How come I have to listen when he feels like it, but he isn't available for a good yammering when it works for me?

Sigh...I guess there's no such thing as an equal-opportunity captive audience.

I just wish I could tie one of these people to a tetherball pole for an afternoon and make them listen to me blather on about my errands or something equally fascinating. Sadly, I believe there are kidnapping charges and jail time associated with that sort of thing.

I do have a new plan afoot. Not for restaurants, cafés, or coffee shops, since I don't want to be an aural annoyance myself, but for the next person who won't shut their big cellphone-shouting yap in a store.

Note to the undermannered with unlimited minutes at, say, the grocery store or the office supply store: Remember, the wine aisle and the pen aisle are the only places the rest of us can buy wine or pens. It's a mobile phone. Assclowns.

Posted by aalkon at February 8, 2007 1:04 PM


Can you supply his/her cell number to your favorite telemarketers/pests?

Posted by: Dave at February 8, 2007 5:14 AM

Posted by: Dave at February 8, 2007 5:22 AM

Ah, man. I used to have a monster crush on Emilie du Chatalet. You know, crushes on dead people are incredibly unrewarding.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at February 8, 2007 7:55 AM

Chatelet, that is.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at February 8, 2007 8:02 AM

As good as with most live ones, but maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Crid at February 8, 2007 8:29 AM

I like the guys with the hand free earpiece that looks like big beetle humping their cheekbone. It's always amazed me that some people don't mind acting like they should be "pink slipped" into the nearest psych ward....

Posted by: HerrMorgenholz at February 8, 2007 8:58 AM

Exactly. Back in the day, if you talked to people who weren't really there you were burned at the stake. Amy extends a proud tradition in western thinking.

Anyone recognize teh tower?

Posted by: Crid at February 8, 2007 9:08 AM

I remember some guy in the Staten Island Mall screaming into his cell phone about an order of protection that was taken out against him. Nice of him to warn us.

Posted by: Mommynator at February 8, 2007 9:45 AM

Did he happen to mention what his pre-existing condition was? After all, if he's going to share it with a planeful of people, certainly you can share it with us.

Posted by: pnwgal at February 8, 2007 4:49 PM

He didn't, he just shouted "I HAVE A PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION!" but I'm very curious now. I'll ask him next time I call him. I'm going to give him my web site address so he can respond if he'd like.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 8, 2007 5:05 PM

Is the objection here to people talking into cell phones in grocery stores, airports and other public spaces generally? Or is it the specific case of the LOUD talker? The latter seems completely reasonable; the former, indefensible.

Posted by: justin case at February 9, 2007 1:22 PM

A girl I know talks on her phone at the Rose in a tone where nobody can hear her. I'm not opposed to the use of cell phones, merely the abuse of cell phones; i.e., taking your conversation and putting it front and center of everyone else's life.

This isn't just a problem with cell phones, it's just more pervasive with cell phone users. Just today, I was at another cafe I go to, one with a "no cell phones" sign. Naturally, the guys who were blathering into their phones (and had to be asked by the staff to shut up) also had an EXTREMELY loud business conversation, about some kind of programming they're putting on cell phones. Everyone was bothered. This very nice woman I know had to leave, because she's just not the type to say something. Lucky me, I bought asshole-canceling headphones -- I'll blog about them in the next day or so -- so I couldn't hear the curs, or a barking dog outside.

Sometimes, however, I don't want to have music on (the noise-canceling alone isn't strong enough to drown out voices) -- I just want to read the paper and think my own thoughts. Far too often, that's impossible, thanks to people shouting, either into the ether or into their cell phones and the ether. I have to find out who one of these people is, then track down their mother. Who was raised to think this is okay, and if they were, why were they?

Oh, and P.S. These guys talking about the details of their business, at a very high decibel, in the middle of the cafe? They're just lucky if nobody who knows anybody who can benefit from the information they were dispensing was listening. Not only rude, but morons, to boot!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 9, 2007 1:59 PM

OK. I get you. Right on.

Ah, Rose cafe. One of the places I really miss about L.A.

Posted by: justin case at February 9, 2007 2:14 PM

I agree with all the above.
I also think another aspect of mobile phones and manners is people who answer their phones while talking to someone. I'm a business person and I avoid answering my phone when talking to people even if its a person serving me in a shop. The only exception is when I might be expecting an important call and I have already told the person, and even then I keep it to a few words or say I'll call back.
If I get a call while in a cafe etc I'll walk outside or ignore it.
I have found that as others I deal with often know I don't answer my phone (I just let it ring quietly) and my attitude they tend to do the same.
The only drawback is I spend more on voicemail.
As for people who answer phones in meetings I (and others)soon put a stop to that.
It would be funny if the guy reads you post about the lady in the coffee shop you put on the internet.

Posted by: Aussi Pete at February 9, 2007 9:18 PM

I also think another aspect of mobile phones and manners is people who answer their phones while talking to someone.

Unless it's possible it's the hospital about taking grampa off life support, or, possibly, the babysitter -- calling to tell you the children have set the house on's extremely rude.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 10, 2007 1:08 AM

If he was talking about a "pre-existing medical condition," he may have been lamenting the fact of being unable to obtain health insurance and, in his distress, neglected to keep his voice down.
I never fly without earplugs. Mack's Ear Pillows do it for me ( Unlike many/most earplugs, they are quite comfortable, especially for a woman's smaller ear.
Many people have hearing loss, which can make it hard for them to understand how loud their voices are. I have super-sensitive hearing, which is a problem of its own.

Posted by: anon at February 10, 2007 11:09 AM

"I also think another aspect of mobile phones and manners is people who answer their phones while talking to someone."

Even more rude is answering your cell phone when you are on a first date with a woman that you are supposedly interested in. I had that experience a few years ago. Not only did he take about 3 long personal calls, he also left the table where we were having dinner when he saw friends go by, to stand outside the restaurant and yak with them. He did this about 4 times. I just enjoyed my dinner and was thinking how funny it was going to be when I told him I wasn't interested in seeing him ever again, and the look of surprise on his face when I told him why. He was indeed very surprised and even called me a few times trying to get me to go out with him again. Tee hee!

Posted by: Chris at February 21, 2007 8:41 AM

I love that story!

Just this weekend, a female minister lost a job marrying a woman when I told the bride how rudely the minister had answered me when I pointed out the "no cell phones allowed" sign in the cafe.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 8:53 AM

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