DEAR MISS MANNERS: Here is an issue for our times: I was in a coffee bar recently, and a person sitting a few feet away from me was listening to some sort of recorded content on his mobile phone without the benefit of headphones. It was annoying, particularly on top of the shop's programmed music and other face-to-face conversations taking place.
After a while, I asked, in a very polite and civil manner, "Sir, do you happen to have earbuds or headphones that you could use?" He bristled slightly and said that he didn't realize the sound was annoying, then simply shut the device off, for which I thanked him.
Is what I did within the bounds of reasonable and polite behavior? While I would never question someone's right to engage in a face-to-face conversation or telephone call in this situation, my feeling is that playing anything loud enough for someone else to hear amounts to forcing your choice on others, and is therefore inconsiderate. I would appreciate your thoughts on the issue.
GENTLE READER: Certainly this is rude. Bristle as this young man might, you did nothing wrong by politely and reasonably asking him to use headphones in a public place. In fact, Miss Manners assures you, you likely saved him from a ruder patron's much more indignant objections.