Lately I’ve seen more pedestrians walking and talking on their cell phones at the same time. It bothers me.
It’s not the lack of politeness, necessarily. Although it is impolite — imposing your side of your inevitably loud cell phone conversation on every hapless person who unfortunately happens to be within earshot — anyone who lives in the modern world has long since learned to endure thoughtless louts who can’t conform to basic social norms in more ways than we can count.
No, what really bothers me is that people talking on their cell phones while walking always act like they think they’re the coolest thing ever. They’re inevitably walking, the elbow of the arm holding the phone jutting out just so, with the smuggest imaginable look on their faces. It’s as if they think that getting or making a phone call in a public place is somehow an affirmation that they stand alone at the center of the universe. “Look at me!,” their demeanor screams, “I’m an incredibly important person! And I’ve got friends, colleagues, and clients who want to talk to me even when I’m crossing the street in a busy downtown area!”
This must be a carryover from the early days of cell phones, when handhelds were rare and people were curious to see people talking on bulky wireless devices. But those days ended during the Reagan Administration. Now cell phones are like opinions and certain body parts — everybody has one. The difference between the walking talkers and the rest of the world is that the walking talkers don’t have the decency to remove themselves from the public right-of-way, by sitting on a bench or standing off to the side while they complete their call. Everyone else has the good sense and manners to not inflict their conversations on random passersby. Unlike the walking talkers, everybody else has the instinct to not act like a churlish buffoon.
So here’s a news flash to the walking cell phoners — you’re not cool, you’re boorish. Please recognize that, and if you can’t stop talking on your cell phone in public, at least have the decency to wipe that smug look off your face.