Cell Phones

I attend church at St. Francis Xavier in downtown Missoula. The church is very old but also very beautiful. Tonight at mass a funny event occurred. For whatever reason, the speaker system at the church was unintentionally picking up a radio station. Because of this, throughout the whole service you could hear the faint broadcast of the station radiating throughout the church. After our priest delivered his homily he walked back to his chair and sat down. Before standing up to start the recitation of the Nicene Creed he addressed the problem by saying “I am sure you noticed the radio interference we are picking up, please excuse it.” Then, just a couple seconds after he said that, someone’s cell phone went off. It had one of those loud, annoying ringtones designed specifically for cell phones. Without missing a beat, Father followed up his request for tolerating the radio station noise by simply adding “…and cell phones.” This got a nervous laugh out of the congregation. As this muffled laughter started, everyone watched in amazement as the person with the cell phone did not embarrassingly shut it off/silence it but rather he excused himself from the pew and walked out the side entrance of the church where he could presumably took the call.
The minute he stepped out of the church, our priest quipped, “This happened to Jesus all the time in the synagogues.”
The whole church roared with laughter and started applauding. It was one of those moments and one of those reactions  that you rarely see during a catholic mass service but it was totally appropriate. Even though the guy had left the church and could not witness himself being put in his place by the priest, I like to think that the laughter and applause was so loud that he could still hear it as he stood outside to take the call.
It amazes me what little shame people have with their cell phones. I can’t begin to tell you how many times cell phones go off during meetings that I am in. I can confidently say that if at least one cell phone did not go off in a meeting I was in, it had to have been because either A). Everyone had simultaneously forgotten to bring their cell phones with them or B). Some catastrophe occurred and destroyed all of the cell phone towers.
Let me set one thing straight real fast. If you know me at all, you know I practically have my cell phone glued to my hand. You might think I am hypocritical in writing this. Yes, I utilize my phone more than the average person  but I do practice what I preach. My phone has never gone off in a meeting, I would never think of bringing my cell phone into church, and I would never let my cell phone take precedent over a person who I was talking to.
It always puzzles me when someone’s cell phone goes off in a setting where it shouldn’t. First off, why do you have your cell phone on ringer mode in the first place? Doesn’t it bug the hell out of you? The only time I have my phone on ringer mode is when I go to sleep just because it will wake me up if someone needs to reach me in the event of an emergency in the middle of the night. Other than that, I have mine set to vibrate at all times. There is really no need to draw attention to yourself by notifying everyone that someone is calling you. You are not impressing anyone with your “Soldier Boy” ringtone….you are just annoying them. Secondly, if you must have your cell phone on ringer mode, how hard is it to silence it before going into a meeting, movie, lecture, etc.?
Aside from having the common courtesy to make sure that your cell phone does not go off when it shouldn’t, the amount of disrespect that people show to others when taking calls on their phone is appalling. It is tough for me to keep my composure when I see people yaking on their phones while ordering their sandwich at Subway, paying for groceries at the supermarket, or while working out at the gym. Why is it that your conversation is more important than the person who is trying to serve you or the people around you who could care less about the latest drama in your life? Nothing speaks arrogance like that.
I always laughed at the people who walked around with those Star Trek Spok type ear pieces. They thought they were so cool having the ability to conduct their phone conversations via a handless device but really they just looked like mentally ill fools because it looked like they were talking to themselves. I feel like I see less and less of people utilizing the Bluetooth devices…I think they finally realized how ridiculous they look. But I think the fascination with these type of devices harkens back to what I just touched on…arrogance.  Before people realized that they looked stupid, I really think they thought it made them look important. It was a status symbol that made them feel better about themselves.
So after rambling for a little bit, I feel cell phones are abused for two primary reasons: Stupidity and arrogance. Some people are just too dumb to make sure their phones are on vibrate. They can’t make it a habit to check the settings of their phone before entering a place where a cell phone should never go off. Some people just hold a self-importance about themselves that they feel their phone conversations are the most important things in the world and other people should not only see them engaging in these conversations but realize that whatever they are talking about is much more pressing than giving courtesy and respect to others at a store, gym, workplace, etc.
If you are stupid or arrogant (and in many cases, both) when it comes to cell phones, please try to change your ways.  Cell phones are great tools but just like anything they can be misused. Utilize your cell phone with common sense and class! Don’ t Blink.

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