Ethics

For the week ending 29 October 2005 / 26 Tishri 5766

Soft Sell re Cellphone Nuisance

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Here I am sitting on a bus and someone sits down next to me, places a call on his cellphone and begins a loud, disturbing conversation with someone on the other end of the line. What is the right thing for me to do in such a case?

Answer: Until the transportation authorities finally get around to banning long and loud cellphone conversations just as they ban smoking, you have a problem shared by many passengers. Since you can never be sure that the call disturbing you is not of an emergency nature, you must be very gentle in handling the problem.

How about just turning to your cellphone-calling neighbor and softly saying, "Pardon me, but your conversation is disturbing me. If you must carry on with it, I will have to change my seat."

Most people will react in a positive way by either cutting short the conversation or by themselves finding themselves a place on the bus where no one will complain. (Preferably a place where they have to compete with the noise from other cellphone callers!)

If you want to be even more subtle, you might try asking the caller if he has any earplugs you could borrow. The main thing is to remember that not everyone is aware that their talking disturbs you, so dont get upset. Use your imagination as to the best way to get your message across.

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