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Scold the cell squawkers

December 26, 2007|AMY ALKON | Amy Alkon, a syndicated columnist, writes at advicegoddess.com.

Every day, across Los Angeles, boors on cellphones drag us into their lives. We need to tell them that our attention doesn't belong to them. That their right to have loud, dull cellphone conversations ends where our ears begin.

Sometimes, I do this by making a polite suggestion. Other times, I've become too irritated by the last 10 people who told me where to stick that suggestion, or worn down by the need to instruct another adult to "use your inside voice." That's when I help them see a downside of over-share.

A woman at the Rose Cafe shouted her eyeglass order into her cell -- going into great detail about her family's medical plan (they have flexible spending; they'll pay after the first of the year). So I blogged her conversation, including her phone number, and she got calls from around the world: "Eva, your glasses are ready!" I'm guessing she has newfound respect for others' profound disinterest in her life.

Barry sure does. He shouted his number across a Venice Starbucks. I went home and called it: "Barry, I know everything about you but your blood type." Next time I saw him, he took his calls outside.

Now, maybe you're too timid (or too sane) to do what I do, but please do something. Shush the rudesters. At least glare. Ask restaurants to post "no cellphones" signs.

Peace on Earth might not be doable, but we could try for peace and quiet. For civility, not technology, to be our guide. Perhaps the manners of the future are best informed by our pre-wireless past. Think about it: There's a reason no one installed a phone booth right at table five.

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