Thursday, March 23, 2006

Keep the cell phone abusers off the planes!

The FAA and airlines may soon allow the use of cell phones during flights. I think the powers that be need to look at security issues other than possible electronic interference. I think they need to consider protecting the passengers from each other! One can only imagine the horror stories that will become all to familiar when we throw unthinking cell phone users into the mix of what is fast becoming the sardine can method of travel. (Allowing the use of quiet, non-intrusive email would be a suitable alternative. I also think the use of laptops and DVD players should be restricted to quiet use - or use headphones.)

I was on a flight recently that was held on the ground for thirty minutes due to weather conditions at our destination. The captain announced that we were free to use our cellphones for a time so we could alert people at our destination that we were delayed. Several people took advantage of this, as did I. Almost all of us had a brief conversation passing on arrival information, hung up, and turned the phones off. Unfortunately the immature, misogynistic medical student with the foul mouth sitting across the aisle from me used this opportunity to regale his far away buddy with his weekend partying experiences and his opinion of "Harvard Law School girls who only want to talk about shoes and purses." Though for now he's stuck in a lab while the others in his class are doing rotations (leaving one to wonder why he's still "stuck in the lab"), he's apparently looking forward to his rotations at the hospital where all the desperate nurses try and hook up the med students with their daughters. He'll "gladly take advantage of it" but he wouldn't want to settle down with any of them. Boy, was that entertaining...NOT! After about twenty minutes of this, as his increasingly loud voice carried his profanity up and down the aisle, I finally asked him to keep his voice down. Yup, that made me the bad guy, the jerk who had the audacity to infer that his behavior was rude and obnoxious (though several nearby passengers thanked me for speaking up. Why did they feel they couldn't do the same?). Had I not had control of my manners, I would have just come right out and told him he was being rude and obnoxious.

There were no safety issues involved in this situation, although I can see the potential for serious harm should cell phone use be allowed in-flight. Imagine if more than one person had been using their phone in the same manner, and at the same volume, as he was. How long will people put up with this kind of boorish behavior before a serious altercation erupts? Will we have to enlist the aid of air marshalls to control the peace? I think that cell phone use in such a restricted, closed-in atmosphere is a recipe for disaster. Cell phone users will claim a right to use their phones as they want, the rest of us will clamor for our right to a peaceful environment. Why are the airlines even considering opening this can of worms? There are few people in this world whose responsibilities will not allow them to be out of touch with their jobs, families, or friends for a short period of time. If you can't bear it, take shorter flights, or better yet, stay home and leave the friendly skies as they are. I, for one, don't want to be subjected to a cacophony of cell phone users, many of whom don't realize the use of a phone precludes the need to yell so they can be heard, as they all try and scream over each other with the detritus of their sorry, can't-survive-an-hour-without-my-cell-phone, what-do-you-care-if-I-like-to-drop-the-f-bomb-three-times-in-each-sentence, my-needs-are-more-important-than-yours, lives.

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