SIKESTON -- Before answering the cell phone amidst a crowd in the stands of a baseball game or airing all of your problems in the checkout line of the supermarket, keep in mind that Cell Phone Courtesy Month is just around the corner.
"How many times have we been talking with someone one-on-one and they get 40 million phone calls and interrupt the conversation?" questioned Kevin Enax, sales manager for Homestead Electronics in Sikeston. "That is extremely rude."
July marks Cell Phone Courtesy Month -- a time to remind cell phone users about the proper rules and etiquette of using their beloved gadgets.
In cases like Enax's, it's the caller ID feature that can help a person determine whether or not to answer their phone, Enax said. If someone thinks it's an emergency situation, then they can answer their phone, he explained. "Most phone calls can be ignored by turning off the ringer," Enax said. "That's what I try to do -- but if it's my mom, I answer the call."
Melenie Broyles, owner of Etiquette Saint Louis in St. Louis, admitted she thinks the lack of cell phone courtesy has become a problem.
"It's one of those things where we're being conditioned to accept -- that it's just life," Broyles commented. "Good manners is not something we emphasize the way we used to."
Broyles thinks today's hurried lifestyles is a major contributor behind the loss of good manners -- and it's not just with cell phone use, it's in so many other areas, too. "It's caused us to simply say, 'My personal efficiency is more important than considering the way I'm affecting someone else,'" Broyles said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1990, there were just over five million cell phone users. Now that number is more than 128 million. That means that four out of 10 of all Americans have a cell phone.
Both Enax and Broyles said there are guidelines cell phone users can follow to cut back on their rudeness.
"One of the first things cell phone users should keep in mind is that technology has come a long way, and people no longer need to shout when they speak in a cell phone," Broyles said.
Another tip is cell phones are really not meant to be used to carry on conversations in public, Broyles pointed out.
"People shouldn't use their cell phones at the dinner table in a restaurant -- if it's worth interrupting, then get up and walk to the lobby of the restaurant so the entire restaurant doesn't hear your business," Broyles explained.
When in a movie theater, church or lecture hall, turn off the phone or set it to the vibrator setting, Enax recommended. And when driving, always use the hands-free kit or pull off to the side of the road, he advised.
"It's just like any situation when dealing with the public -- if you just use common courtesy and good common sense, the world's gonna be a whole lot better place," Enax noted. Take into consideration that there are other people out there, Enax said.
"You're not in world by yourself," Enax commented. "Drive safe and talk safe -- that's my motto."
And Broyles suggested a three-pronged approach to avoid annoying others.
"Put kindness, courtesy and respect first, and we'll have a friendlier, more respectful society," Broyles suggested. Other tips and techniques for observing the rules of cell phone etiquette offered by etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey include:
-- Pay attention to when and where cell phones are used.
-- Turn off the phone completely or at least silence it when meeting a client or even a friend.
-- Use a normal ring tone and not one that will make the boss cringe or co-workers roll their eyes.