Hang Up and Listen

You have most likely seen the bumper sticker which reads “Hang Up and Drive!”  Apparently, ushers will soon need to stop each concertgoer before they enter the auditorium, so they can be observed actually turning off their cell phone.

Some time back, I was at the movie theatre.  The film was building to a crucial point in the plot.  We’re focused on the dialogue.  The actors leaned toward each other and…RING!!!!

The person was sitting in front of us.  I expected her to quickly grab the phone and turn it off, mute it, or something.  What happens?  ”Hello?”  I can only assume the caller asked what she was doing, because the next sentence was, “Oh, nothing.  Watching a movie.”  By now, we have missed the crucial on-screen exchange.  After two or three more comments, I leaned forward and said, “Would you mind either taking that conversation outside or hanging up?”  She gave me a dirty look and said to the caller, “I’ve gotta go.”  Her husband, in the meantime, is doing his best to ignore her, me, and everyone else, while climbing under his seat.

Something similar happened recently during a performance of Haydn’s D major Piano Concerto by Christian Zacharias and the Gothenburg Symphony.  A cell phone rang, apparently the second time during that performance.  Zacharias was so distracted, he finally stopped and addressed the audience.  I can only imagine the owner of the phone was simultaneously squirming and looking around, hoping someone else looked guiltier.

Maybe we could all vow to take an extra 60 seconds and put cell phones into the glove compartment of the car before we go in for a concert, or at least double and triple check that the phone is on vibrate.  Or maybe we need to take a cue from The Memorial Tournament.  If a phone is seen or heard, it is confiscated, tagged, and given back to you when you leave the course.

Do they make a patch for this?

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