Please Note: “No Cell Phones” signs are for everyone…even you!

I have a new pet peeve. It’s called the “willful violation of posted no cell phone zone” callers. It drives me completely bonkers!

I thought about it the other day when I was waiting in a big down town Boston physician’s office waiting room. All the waiting rooms in this facility are very nicely appointed with comfortable chairs, magazines, and water bubblers. They have quiet, all-ages music piped in overhead at a reasonable level. On the walls are the following signs:

  • check in and check out reminders
  • “this is a non-smoking facility”
  • “No-cell phone zone”…depicted in words and with this symbol: (it was really hard to miss!)
    • The sign also had this text: “This waiting room has been designated a quiet zone. Thank you for not using your cell phones for calls.”
    • These signs were placed every couple of feet so each wall had a few…clearly this was an important policy!

My daughter called, not knowing about the sign. I answered and whispered “is this an emergency?” She said “no” and I quickly explained the situation and told her to use text to communicate with me while at the doctor’s appointment. I apologized to the one person in the waiting room with me who waved it off but I felt I at least needed to acknowledge the sign  and respect it. In fact, I should have warned my girls as these policies are standard in all medical facilities these days.

The waiting room filled up fast. Everyone who came in noticed the cell phone signs – they were hard to miss as the most visible ones were near the check in desk. Most people kept their phones in their bags. A couple took calls and did what I did because they had kids at home and hadn’t warned them not to call.

One lady, however, just ignored the sign altogether. She pulled out her phone and made a call and started talking about neighborhood gossip. This went on for about 15 minutes.

These policies are not meant to block out emergency calls or calls to tell people, like teens at home alone or a babysitter, that we are running late. These policies are meant to block out the loud and obnoxious cell phone user…like this lady became.

It’s a turn for the better that we’re seeing more cell phone boundaries become created in our society but until we find a way to collectively enforce these ad hoc policies, the rude behavior will just continue to spiral out of control. Since self regulation has failed, perhaps facilities should consider fines…like the equivalent of parking tickets!