Denise Pietzsch was in a public bathroom recently when she heard the woman in the next stall on the phone, breaking up with her boyfriend. "I should not be hearing this," Pietzsch thought to herself. "You should not be doing this. Are you going to flush?"
The rise in cell phone use has made such encounters increasingly common. In the rush to answer calls, texts or e-mails, many mobile phone users seem to forget where they are, who they're with or what they're doing. With mobiles to their lips, they yell at spouses in grocery stores, question coworkers while checking in at the doctor's and chat up friends during movies.
"We're just getting ruder and ruder all the time," said Pietzsch, executive director of Etiquette & Protocol Image Consultants in Worthington.
Pietzsch, who politely scolded the woman in the bathroom, encourages people to take others to task for rude behavior. It's perfectly acceptable to ask people to take their cell phone conversations out of the room, turn off their phones during a meeting or meal or refrain from answering texts during a conversation, she said. The key is approaching them in a polite, calm manner, she added.
"I don't think it should be ignored," she said. "We're letting people get away with bad behavior."
Part of the problem is that people feel as though a cell phone gives them some sort of anonymity to speak of personal situations or other private matters, added Nancy Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute, a training and consulting firm in Columbus.
"People will say things in public on a cell phone that they would never say if that person was standing right there," she said. "There is a real disconnect."