08/04/2009DEAR ABBY: Your answer to "Minneapolis Commuter" (June 8), who was sick of overhearing personal cell phone conversations, missed the mark. I ride public transit to and from Sacramento every day, and most of the time the passengers -- like me -- just want a quiet ride to work and back. Sometimes a rude, obnoxious and very loud person will get on and make life miserable for the rest of us.
Moving to another seat is not an option because their voices carry throughout the entire bus. Often these conversations are laced with profanity, and it becomes an endurance test to remain polite.
I no longer feel that being polite is the best solution with such people. They need to be reminded about common courtesy and respect for their neighbors. There have been days when the bus driver actually stopped the bus and ordered such passengers off. I dare say, you have not been on public transit in a while, or you would not have dismissed the complaint so quickly. -- SACRAMENTO COMMUTER
DEAR COMMUTER: You are right. I haven't used public transit for some time, however, several of my staff use it daily and tell me, as you have, that phone users can be rude and obnoxious.
Contacting your local public transit carrier and complaining seems to be the best way to handle the situation. If they receive enough complaints -- and I'm sure they will -- they may initiate policies to stop such rude behavior. And if all else fails: earplugs! Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Commuter" is far from alone. I am a transit bus driver. Cell phones are an irritation to drivers and passengers alike on our service. To address this issue, our company initiated a cell phone policy that is printed in our transit guide. If using a cell phone on a bus, do not disturb the driver or fellow passengers, or you may be asked to stop using your cell phone. Keep it short, keep it down, keep it quiet, keep it off!
Since this policy has been in effect (it's not perfect), things have improved. I would encourage anyone who uses public transportation to ask their service to put a cell phone policy in place and enforce it. -- BUS DRIVER
DEAR ABBY: Commuters on buses or trains should realize that it is not the library, and they should not expect the ride to be quiet. The writer of that letter should get a set of earplugs or, better yet, an MP3 player with headphones and listen to a recorded self-improvement book, or perhaps, something about improving tolerance.
People talking on their cell phones are making productive use of their commute time, and it might be the only time they have to chat with friends and family. Commuters should make better use of their time than just sitting there and stewing. -- COMMUTER CELL PHONE USER
DEAR ABBY: The reality is that the bus or train is often packed and there is no seat to move to, so we are forced to sit and listen to incredibly personal conversations or insane babbling because the person can't sit still and use the travel time to relax.
I've heard it all -- the woman announcing her new address and phone number, the guy talking about how he's going to lie to the judge during his divorce hearing, the gory details of someone's recent surgery. It's enough to make you gag. I finally got headphones. -- DENVER COMMUTER
DEAR ABBY: I, too, found the conversations on the bus to be quite colorful! I now wear earphones and spend my time listening to music and reading. The convenience of a relaxing ride to work far outweighs the annoyances. I find the bumpy ride is a great abdominal workout, too. -- CALM-UTING IN ABQ
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