Thursday, May 8, 2008

Public Cell Phone Use

Everyone has a cell phone, get used to it. They are great ways for people to stay in touch, and continue doing business while they are out of office. I have no problem with people who'd ask that cell phone users keep their voices down; I've noticed that MANY people seem to think it necessary to raise their voice considerable while they are on the phone.

The right call is this:

1. Complainers - Would you complain if two people were sitting next to each other having a conversation at a reasonable volume? If the answer is yes, then you're... I try not to use vulgarity on this blog, as my family sometimes reads it. If the answer is no, then there is no way you should expect that people shouldn't use their cell phones at a reasonable volume. I repeat, "at a reasonable volume."

2. Cell phone users - Keep your obnoxious voices down. You don't need to speak into the phone any louder than you need to speak for the person immediately next to you to hear. Think about the distance between your mouth and the phone's receiver and the distance between your mouth and the ear of the person next to you. It doesn't make sense to increase the volume when the the listener (or listening device) is closer. You pay good money for your phone, and you have every right to use it - until it annoys others, or more importantly me. I don't care and I don't want to hear about how much you hate your boss, how terrible the Yankees played, or how cute your latest purchase is... unless, in some cases, there is a Victoria's Secret bag sitting on your lap. Yet again, on second thought, that conversation could be one of the worst kinds to be overhearing... ::shudder::

Austrian city asking for polite cellphone use
By Eric Sylvers

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
MILAN: 'We'll send it Monday," the man said into his cellphone, making no attempt to hide his conversation from a dozen or so people who could clearly hear him above the hum of the No. 3 tram here.

There was a long pause as the man, dressed in a dark suit, balanced his umbrella on his knees while continuing to hold his cellphone to his ear.

"No, I told you I don't remember what they were asking, but it was high," he said. "Monday - don't worry about all that other stuff, we can decide that later."

More followed, just enough to make it difficult to concentrate on a newspaper, and intriguing enough to try to decipher the dialogue.

The scene is played out daily on public transport from Milan to Sydney to Buenos Aires. But Graz, the second-largest city in Austria, has decided to do something about it.

Graz last month issued a plea to its citizens not to use cellphones on public transportation. No fines are being given to transgressors, so Mayor Siegfried Nagl is counting on the civic sense or shame of his constituents to cut down on cellphone noise pollution.

Rather than send out ticket-writing noise police, the city has outfitted trams and buses with stickers that say "please don't use your mobile phone."

The city decided to post the notices after a poll showed that 70 percent of Graz residents thought that noise was a problem, said Thomas Rajakovics, a spokesman for the mayor, who uses the tram every day to take his children to school. Forty-six percent of the 5,000 people polled were in favor of a mobile phone ban on public transport, he said, though 42 percent were against the idea.

"We asked people in a polite way to turn off their ring tone and just use text messaging," he said. "People have begun to use the phone now in a much more polite way, and if they do take a call, they tell the person in a very low voice that they are on a tram and can't talk and will call back."

Not all residents have seen the same improvement. While older people are more careful, teenagers are using their mobile phones just as before, according to Colette Schmidt, a journalist in Graz who said she had heard teenagers ridiculing the mayor and the initiative.

Graz is not the first place to try. Stockholm previously tried to institute such a ban but withdrew it last year. Rajakovics said he was more hopeful of long-term success, adding that Graz would do more to publicize the initiative than Stockholm did.

On Italian trains it is not uncommon for the conductor to use the loudspeaker to ask for restraint in the use of mobile phones, a request that has done little to temper use. Railways in France, Germany, Britain and elsewhere have created phone-free zones on some trains.

But Graz's attempt to get its chatty citizens under control comes as some airlines move in the opposite direction, equipping their planes to allow cellphone use.

"This is working because of the big discussion that has started, but we'll have to see what happens in three months, when people forget about the debate going on now," Rajakovics said. "When 46 percent of people are for something and 42 percent are against it, you won't see many politicians taking a decision on that issue, because they won't have enough people behind them."

In other words, don't expect similar bans to spread across Europe. If a politician is worried about having a clear consensus before enacting a mobile phone ban, he or she might be advised to avoid Italy.

Indeed, when Marco Riurio, 47, was informed that his loud, one-sided conversation on the No. 3 tram would have made him an outlaw of sorts in Graz, he had something to say about it: "That's absolutely ridiculous."

Several other people within earshot appeared to support his view, continuing to chatter away on their cellphones

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