Friday, July 21, 2006

Cellular Incivility

Cell phones are ubiquitous with good reason. A cell phone is a godsend in an emergency (as I found out after my car did a header off a slushy road a few winters ago), a great safety edge for teens, and an excellent way of staying reachable if need be. They do a lot of other semi-useful things, like taking pictures and accessing the internet, but one of the best cell phone features also seems to be the least-used: the OFF button. When the fuck are people going to start using it?!!?

Damn right, this is a Cell Phone Rant. And I have every reason to rant: as a customer-service person, I'm constantly subjected to cell phone abuse. In fact, Cell Phone Assholes have become #1 on my long and varied list of irritating customer types. CPAs shove their groceries at me while they yak it up on their fucking phones, and if I have a question for them ("Want a bag, Cell Phone Asshole?") it often takes 2 or 3 tries and a sharp rap on the counter to get their attention. Sometimes there are issues that need resolution ("Hey Cell Phone Asshole, you don't have sufficient funds.") so I, and everyone in line behind CPA, are held up while I try to get his attention, and then again while he looks for an alternate payment method. But my problem is not just that CPA is inconveniencing me and the other customers. It's that it's fucking rude.

Treating someone who is serving you as though they don't exist is rude. People wonder why store clerks don't seem to give a shit anymore? Being treated like you don't exist day in and day out has a way of lowering the needle on your Give-a-shit-ometer. I don't expect meaningful discourse with every customer (or any customer for that matter), but a "How are ya?" makes one feel a little less like a drone, and a little more like one gives a shit.

So this weekend I enacted my new policy for Cell Phone Assholes. If they don't hang up by the time their groceries are on the counter, I say "I'll let you finish your call", push all their groceries aside and move on to the next customer. I've already road-tested it, it works. And while it might get one fired, one really doesn't give a flying fuck.