Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phone Faux Pas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phone Faux Pas

Article excerpt

A SALESMAN loves to tell the story about the time he used his car phone to get even with a guy who had just cut him off in traffic.

A middle school teacher uses the threat of "phoning your parents" to keep her students in line.

An actor complains that more and more people are using their cellular phones at the worst possible times - right in the middle of a play, for example.

And while the people who patrol highways report that car phones have helped rather than hampered their efforts, many of us have witnessed the exception - the driver cruising down the freeway trying to juggle his car phone, steering wheel and attention span.

Have telephone manners gone the way of the rotary phone? When does a cellular phone cross the line between a convenience for its user and an irritant for those who have to hear the conversation?

The rules of cellular etiquette are changing, partly because cellular phones are multiplying like electronic rabbits - 28,000 a day by some estimates.

MTA/EMCI, a communications consulting firm in Washington, D.C., estimates that there are now more than 25 million cellular phones in the United States.

With the rapidly growing number of people using cellular phones in both public and private settings, questions have arisen concerning the correct time, place and circumstance for using the portable phones, according to cellular giant Ameritech.

Ameritech officials have even gone as far as to issue some "basic rules of cellular phone etiquette." But some people just don't seem to care or think.

For many people - like the ones who insist on using their cellular phones to take and make casual calls while standing in line at fast-food restaurants - the cellular phone is a clear status symbol.

"Some people just like everybody to know they're using a cellular phone," said John Steagall, an assistant manager with Ameritech Cellular Services in Milwaukee. …

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