Stalking the Rude Cell Phone User

As a kid, I loved when my mother talked on the phone. It meant I could misbehave, and she wouldn’t be able to discipline me because her attention was diverted.

Fast-forward a few decades and my love affair with the telephone has long since ended. I despise being on the phone for more than five minutes, and I don’t own a cell phone.

* Collective gasp * “You don’t own a cell phone, but why not?” you ask.

Well … let me preface by saying that a conversation between two people is not meant to be public. There’s a reason we call it public transit, public restrooms, public spaces—there is no privacy and we should behave with consideration for others around us. So…why am I forced to listen to annoying private conversations at every turn?

Case in point. I was on a bus last week after a concert, still reveling in the memory of the amazing Jeff Beck’s performance only to listen to a man talking loudly on his cell phone:

“Yeah, great trip in Sweden … blah blah blah. It was an awesome film to work on, and the director was wonderful! I’m starving now, gotta get something to eat … thinking of pizza … maybe some chicken, and blah blah blah.”

You get my drift. “Indoor voice” was not in his vocabulary.

To show my dislike for cell phones, or more accurately—for rude users of cell phones, I’m mounting a campaign to let them know it. Here’s my plan.

The next time I’m on a bus and someone annoys me while talking too loudly on their phone—my phone will start ringing too.

“Brrrrring … brrrrring! Brrrrring … brrrrring!”

I’ll look around, appearing confused as I continue. “Brrrrring … brrrrring! Brrrrring … brrrrring!”

Only after passengers stare at me dumbfounded will I say, “Oh! It must be me!” I’ll pull out my phone, pick up the receiver, and say “Hello!”

Of course, I’ll speak in my loudest, most animated voice. “Yes, hi, Martin! How the heck are you? I had a great trip in London, yeah … met the Queen, and we went out for tea. She’s amazing!”

Pause to let my imaginary friend respond.

“I met Prince Charles too! He’s taller than I thought and much more handsome in person!”

Pause, nod like a bobblehead, guffaw.

“Yes! I saw Sir Paul too! What a pleasant fellow he is, blah blah blah, and blah blah blah.”

I suspect by this point passengers will start moving away from me. Why? Is it because I’m talking too loudly, being obnoxious, or … is it remotely possible they just don’t want to hear what I’m saying?

I’ve run this idea by a couple of people, and they think I’ve gone off the deep end.

I consider it quite brilliant, don’t you? 😉


41 responses to “Stalking the Rude Cell Phone User

  1. Could you speak up, Eden? I’m all the way across the continent, so you know you’ll have to shout into the goddam thing for everyone on the bus to hear you. 😀

    Your phone is cute. Have you named it yet? Clearly it’s a mobile phone. The wheels are a dead give-away.

    I think your idea might work if you plop yourself down right beside the offender and look him/her in the eye as you execute your plan. Maybe. Sometimes people are so dense, so self-absorbed I wonder if one of those losers might simply resort to out-shouting you.

    And you’re a Jeff Beck fan, too? Oh Eden, if I weren’t already happily married…

    • Ray, you crack me up!
      Yes, I love my little mobile. I pull it around like a puppy on a leash. Maybe I’ll call it “Pup-Phone.”

      Ah, Jeff Beck yes…, I think I may be an official groupie – 3rd time seeing him in less than a year and a half.

      You’re nutty and sweet 😉

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  3. Love this, Eden. You made me laugh so much!

    Totally share your views on mobile phone users in public – I hate them!

    Although I do carry a mobile – my lifeline in fact, but like you, I can’t stand people talking loudly on public transport, totally oblivious of other people present.

    Will share and tweet!

    Keep them coming my way, please 🙂

  4. I do have a cellphone, but only for emergencies. Having been stuck on the highway at night with car trouble, I’ve decided it’s an important device. However, I’m with you on the annoying users. I want to knock them in the teeth!

    I was in a doctor’s office with my young son. Some teenage girl was in the office WITH HER MOTHER talking about her wonderful night with Random Guy A. I got some interesting ideas for a love scene, but didn’t think it was appropriate around my son. I asked her, politely, to take he conversation elsewhere. She AND HER MOM got mad at me. She walked into the hallway (just as bad) and told her friend about “the B***H in the waiting room”.

    Are they all exhibitionists? Or do they think because they are the only ones involved in the conversation that no one else can hear? (By the way, I’m a Jeff Beck fan too)

    • Hi Dellani! Great to see you here, and thanks for your comment. People are indignant about their cell phone use. I do feel like being childish sometimes and just covering my ears and saying blah blah blah to shut out the noise. At times, it’s impossible to escape, and I’m like you, I’ll ask politely for the person to take the conversation elsewhere, but I’ll only ask once. It’s not worth getting into an argument over it.

      I guess that’s why most of the time I’m walking around with earbuds and music (Jeff Beck hehe)


  5. Whenever someone’s phone rings I have a desire to shout “Hello??? I’m on the bus/train/street”, wherever we may be…much like Dom Jolly sketches (

    I have a 10 year old phone that is forever out of battery and friends laugh at it, wondering why I don’t ‘upgrade’….It rings…I answer it (maybe, if its not on silent ;p)…what more does it need to do?

    I would love to receive a letter now and again…recently got a card from a friend in Korea and I nearly wet myself with delight 😀

    I’m with you on this one xx

  6. Hahaha, too funny.

  7. I’m working as a cashier at the moment while waiting for riches and fame to strike, and I’ve come to the point where I won’t speak to the customers who walk up to me, talking on their cell phones, set down their stuff for me to ring up and never acknowledge me. I no longer acknowledge them either, I ring up their stuff and set their receipt down in front of them and walk away. I’m really very nice to all the customers who are considerate enough to get off their damn phones. Hate them, Eden! And why do people have to be constantly talking on the damn things, anyway? While they’re driving, shopping, walking: whatever. Everyone seems to HAVE to talk talk talk inanely all the time now! What on earth did they do before cell phones?

    • Rebecca, totally agree with your points. I don’t think simple politeness can be underestimated.

      Acknowledging someone standing physically in front of you should trump talking on the cell phone, unless it’s an emergency. From the silly conversations I’ve had the displeasure to overhear, it’s rarely an emergency.

      Thanks for your comment. 😉

    • I feel your pain, Rebecca! I used to work in a high end flower shop and we’d have customers come in all the time on their cellphones to order flower arrangements. It was like they just expected us to be able to read their minds and automatically know what they wanted for their arrangement. And heaven help you if you interrupted their conversation about their latest very extravagant purchase or the dinner party for fifty people they were hosting that weekend.

  8. I do understand your dislike, Eden. I hate it if my phone rings in public. Cypriots are born with cell phones attached to their ears. It is cheap here and EVERYONE has one.

    I adore your idea! LOL you make me smile.

  9. snicker… but I agree 100%. We live in a world where no one interacts or connects with those around them anymore, like we’re in our own private bubble. Very sad.

    • Hi Patti, it is sad. We lose awareness of those around us by constantly being wired. As per Rebecca’s comment above, I still like to look someone in the eye and say “hello” when in a public place. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.


  10. eden, the cellphone is only one (maybe the most obnoxious) ways in which private is becoming public space. People put on their makeup on public transit, young girls tell their sex stories on the bus or the street, people discipline their children – loudly – in public. And with it comes the decline of good manners – it’s sad really, but I’m going out to buy a phone just like yours and will join you in your campaign, though I think instead of the royal family, I’ll choose politicians. Way easier to be rude about them!


  11. If you really want to annoy a guy like that, talk really loud in another language with your pretend friend on the other line 😉 I was in the store once, this woman was talking about her man friend and how he mistreated, her etc. So I told her “yea, dump that jerk.” She looked at me, appalled and said “I’m having a private conversation.” My reply: “Then don’t talk so loud where everybody hears it.” A little ol’ lady at the end of the aisle looks at me and sas “That’s right, honey!” then to the cell phone abuser “And you should dump him!”

    What bugs me are people wanting to text or send me images on my plain phone. I bought it to talk on. Voice is quicker than text.

    • Hehe Rebecca, I don’t mind listening to different languages in normal public speaking voice, but shouting in any language is annoying.

      I love your example though! If people want to air their dirty laundry in public, then they do invite others to comment!


  12. That is funny. My gripe, as a former cashier, is the number of people who talk on their phone while you are ringing them up. Example, “Hi, how are you today?” *they keep talking on phone and do not respond to you* So I skip the next question, did you find everything you were looking for, ring up and then tell them total. “That wll be 25.99.” *hands me money or card, not saying a word to me* “Thank you, here is your change, have a nice day.” *Walk off without ever speaking to me* Ten minutes later they are back…”Did I leave a bag here, or you didn’t give me back the right change, or you charged me too much.”

  13. I just got a cell phone that I use to call home if I am going to be late. I consider a cell phone a leash, and I don’t like being on a leash. I don’t like to talk on the phone, and I certainly don’t want to listen to someone else talk on the phone to someone I don’t know, about something that doesn’t concern me.


  14. Like you, I don’t own a cellphone and I hate talking on the phone. My husband has a very old flip-phone which he only uses to call home to let me know when he’s leaving work.

    Everybody seems appalled when they tell me to text them and I inform them that I don’t have a cellphone. It’s like they can’t wrap their brains around the fact that there are some people out there who don’t want to be plugged in twenty-four hours a day.

  15. HA! I love this post, Eden!

    Brilliant! Absolutely a brilliant idea! It’s amazing how rude most people are when it comes to their cell phones. I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend and we were having a really nice chat until her cell phone rang. I was put on hold so she could talk to whomever was on the other end.

    Don’t get me started on texting.

    I can’t believe, no, I WON’T believe for one second that you waited until your mom was on the phone to misbehave. 🙂

    That Fisher-Price phone pic you have up there is great. I used to have one of those.

    Hey, I call ya! 😉

    • Ha! You’re fab Casey! Okay, maybe I didn’t wait till my mom was on the phone to misbehave, but it made it easier for me to be sneaky! I had one of those phones too — ahh, the good ‘ol days.

      Yeah, call me babe….on the cell I don’t have!


  16. I love the idea but could never pull it off because I was reared with the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” and it is ingrained in my being. I just wish I had a device that caused such calls to “drop” and end. You know it would be on my key ring and look like a knick knack of some kind. I could get into that. I know still naughty but at least that phone call in all its rudeness would be finished. I don’t want to know strangers private business. It is just disconcerting.

    I do have a cell phone. It is for emergencies and private calls in my car when it is parked. I don’t have a land line at home so my cell phone is my only phone. I use it wisely and discretely.

    I share your pain.


    • Hehe Ardee-ann,

      This is a totally tongue-in-cheek post, and I’m being childish, you’re right.

      Sometimes it takes holding a mirror up to someone to show them how inconsiderate they are. In my case, I’ll come off looking like a lunatic, but I might get through to one person.

      😉 eden

  17. Ha! I love your plan. Genius!

    I also do not have a cell phone mostly because I do not want to be found any day, any time, any where I am. I mean, where’s the mystery in that!

  18. I was reading your article, oops…please hold, I’ve got a call coming in! What? Okay, I am back. I also dislike those nasty, inconsiderate calls. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My personal belief is that people who behave in this manner want to exert their self importance to others! It’s all a sham! I say, start the campaign. I am right there with you!

    I also had a peek into the link shared by Paula, what a scream!!

  19. True story from my life, June 2007. This could also be titled ‘why I do not have a cell phone.’ It was a hot day, and I was happy to be on the last train home. The train was late, not 40 minutes as had my train down, but still late. And, due to the bus strike, there were many more people than usual. I did get a seat, and since it was the first seat as one enters, and I sat on the aisle side, most people just went right on by, leaving me eventually alone. I noticed this poor sap type guy, the type that looks as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders, maybe 40, 5’ 6” but stooped over, hair askew. He reminded me of a character from Moonlighting. The one who played second male banana to Bruce Willis’ David Addison character. Can’t recall the name, anyway. He stands there a bit, then sits in the seat across the aisle from me. The guy he sits next to is listening to an Ipod and paying no attention, or so it seemed. . . . .

    OK, so this poor schmedlap gets out his cell phone and calls . . . . “Is this Elisabeth? Hello Elizabeth, this is Fred,” he goes on to ask her about her day, how it must be nice to have air conditioning in her room, blah, blah. He sounds as if he is talking to a child, maybe his child? Maybe he’s separated and talking to his daughter. Tells her how he has been working all day, had meetings with children this AM, lunchtime, after school, and is now on his way to the last meeting of his day where he will get to tell a mother that, “her child acted like an ass at school today.” I gather he must be a social worker, special tutor type. Maybe Elizabeth is a child he works with? Still in this adult to child voice, he says, “I was thinking, maybe I might come and visit you on Saturday, Maybe about 4PM?” Seems she has ‘an appointment that afternoon, so he tries, “OK, maybe I could come by earlier, maybe 11AM. I could order us in some lunch.” This meets with her approval. But it strikes me as odd in some way, just not sure. Yes, I know, the odd part is ME cause I am eavesdropping on this guy’s call. BUT, he is talking out loud, repeating everything twice, so unless I stuck my fingers in my ears, I cannot help but hear him. He confirms that he will be coming for ‘a visit’ Saturday, 11AM, tells her to ‘have a good evening,’ and signs off.

    He then calls a Mrs. So-and-so to tell her the train is a bit late, so he will be there in another 20 minutes, but he will still give her son the 90 minutes he promised her. Again, I figure he is a tutor of some sort, working with difficult kids.

    Call number three is to a male friend of his. Seems a bit more at ease on this one, but still has to repeat himself, says it’s his phone. So now talking VERY LOUD he says to his friend, “You know Elizabeth, the girl I’ve been dating?” at which point I just have to look over at him. He’s dating Elizabeth????? Absolutely no way it sounded like a dating relationship in the voice he used with her when he arranged to come for ‘a visit.’ As I look at him, I see that just about everyone else in earshot is looking at him as well. We, the entire train, are surprised by this development. He goes on to say how he wanted to visit her at 4PM but she had an appointment . . . .” We are hanging on every word the soap opera of the cell phone, no commercial breaks, is he going to ask his buddy for advice. Does he think she’s stepping out on him???? BUT, his damn phone just won’t work properly, so without asking the real questions he wants to, he tells his friend he’ll call him later and signs off. He has no idea we are all now involved in his love life, or surprised to learn he even has one. I see heads turn away in disappointment. The guy next to him sees me looking, so honestly, I grin and shrug my shoulders as in, “Guess we’ll never know.” Dishonest bastard that he is, hey I saw him watching and listening, he looks right through me then away as if he never heard a thing.

    As I get off the train, the poor soul is lost in his thoughts, wondering what Elizabeth is up to. And, I confess, so am I. I want to give him words of encouragement, but I don’t have his cell number, so I just get off. I want to give him my cell cell number so he can let me know how it all turns out, but I don’t have a cell phone. Too bad. Or is it?

    If I want the world to know my business, I do not need a cell phone, I just sit there and talk out loud to myself. Or walk along St Catherine’s having a crisis. People give you a real clear path when you do that, BTW. Some find that crazy. Is it so crazy? I mean, I know everyone can hear me under that circumstance. This poor fool did not realize that the train car knows all they need to know about him and Elizabeth.

  20. Oh my god, JJ, can you be more priceless? You see, this is the very reason I don’t have a cell phone, and even if I did, I would never hold lengthy personal conversations in public. It’s impossible NOT to be overheard because cell users inevitably speak loudly, even though that microphone can pick up the sound of a fart from 20 feet away….I know, I know, I always revert to toilet humour. Please forgive me.

    I personally don’t want the landscape of my mind polluted by other people’s business – plain and simple. I only have so many brain cells, and there’s less every day (trust me, it’s true). There’s enough useless stuff in my head without filling it with the minutiae of other people’s lives whom I don’t know, nor care to know.

    So there…now I sound like a real ranting, surly bee-atch, right? Truth is, I love writing on subways and buses if inspiration hits, and I have a notebook with me all the time, but the distraction of one sided cell conversations kills my ability to write. That’s why I have the ipod to drown out the noise of people like your Mr. Joe Schmo.

    And yes, I agree, you can talk and let others know your business without a cell phone, but then you’d be labeled “crazy” (like me with my Fisher Price phone). Cell phone users are not crazy so people grin and bear it, sit next to them and tolerate their rudeness.

    If you haven’t had a chance to see this video – please do. Paula, a previous commenter on this post left it, and I howled so loud, I peed my pants (well… almost). Toilet humour again…sorry.

    Thanks for your epic comment, JJ. You’re fab!


  21. This article is so timely. It’s funny, I always felt like maybe it was just me being stuffy when I became irritated with listening to other people’s personal cell phone conversations. There was a reason that phone booths were invented!

    I’m just an average Jane, who has been so frustrated with rude cell phone users that I created a free app called “Shut The Cell Up” The YouTube video may resonate with many of you:

  22. Dianne, thanks so much for your response here! eden

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