DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about cell phone conversations in a public eatery. Granted, most of the time it can be avoided -– and should be. However, there are exceptions, and bystanders should not be so judgmental. I'm a hospice nurse and am often on call, yet not at the office. I must take the calls I receive and often work through complex problems on the phone, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Sometimes the calls are quite lengthy; sometimes there are none at all.
Bystanders who might judge my cell phone use do me a great disservice, and likewise people in other professions. My family is just glad that I can go out and enjoy time with them, even when I'm "working." They appreciate what I do and are proud that I give these worthy patients attention when they need it. Please consider that when you are a bystander, you might not know the "rest of the story." -- NURSE IN ADA, OKLA.
DEAR NURSE: While your cell phone use in restaurants might be necessary, you know as well as I do that most conversations aren't. You are the exception. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: After reading about obnoxious cell phone use in your column, I had to share something I saw. I was waiting in line at a bank while a mother on a cell phone was doing her transactions. Her 10-year-old daughter was at her side.
The mother was in not one, but two conversations: "Yeah, yeah, that's right. No, no, I was talking to HIM. OK, fine! No, no, I was talking to HER." Finally finished and still talking, the woman walked outside, and I went to the teller's window.
I quickly finished my business and noticed the daughter was still standing next to me. I took her outside and found the mother getting into a convertible, still on the cell phone, as was the (male) driver. As the child and I neared the car, I realized the two adults were talking to each other! -- ANDY IN TUCSON
DEAR ABBY: I informed my 17-year-old daughter that when we are together, it's offensive and rude for her to be on the cell phone. I don't mind a quick, "I'm having dinner with my mom; I'll get back to you later." I give her the same respect, even when her father calls me. In other words, all members of this family extend the same courtesy to each other. -- THERESA IN SUGARLAND, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: I work in retail, and this has happened to me. When a customer approaches me while talking on a cell phone and tries to hand me the merchandise, I smile and say, "No, don't give it to me yet! Finish your call. It must be important." Then I just stand there. I'm always polite and cordial, and you'd be amazed how quickly they get the "hint." -- LOVES MY JOB
DEAR ABBY: An old boss invited me out to lunch; however, within only a few minutes of our being seated, he took a cell phone call. I sat there for 20 minutes trying not to listen in, then finally I got up, walked out and went home. He called me later, upset that I had "abandoned" him. My response: "I thought we were having lunch together, but you were busy." We've had lunch several times since, and he always turns his cell phone off as we take our seats. -- READER IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion. If you notice someone ignoring his or her dinner companion and talking at length on a cell phone, it might be a kindness to invite the ignored person to join you. Not only could you make a friend, the rude person might get the hint that such behavior is unacceptable. -- TERI IN LYNN, MASS.