Rude Cell Phone Behavior

Have you been the victim of rude cell phone behavior? Well, here's your opportunity to read and to rant and to do something about it. Send your stories to

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wall Street Journal Bad Behavior Article

For various reasons, I have neglected this blog. And I also neglected to check the email associated with it. So I missed the opportunity to be part of this great article by Jennifer Saranow which was published in January (I hope it's okay to reprint here. Sorry if I'm breaking any copyright laws, WSJ, if I am just tell me and I will cease and desist):

Bad parking, loud talking - no transgression is too trivial to
document online
The Wall Street Journal
Last month, Eva Burgess was eating breakfast at the Rose Cafe in
Venice, Calif., when she remembered she needed to make an
appointment with her eye doctor. So the New York theater director
got on her cellphone and booked a date. Almost immediately, she started receiving "weird and creepy'' calls directing her to a blog. There, under the posting "Eva
Burgess Is Getting Glasses!'' her name, cellphone number and other details mentioned in her call to the doctor's office were posted, along with the admonition, "next time, you might take your business outside.'' The offended blogger had been sitting next to Ms. Burgess in the cafe.
It used to be the worst you could get for a petty wrong in public was a rude look. Now, it's not just brutal police officers, panty-free celebrities and wayward politicians who are being outed online. The most trivial missteps by ordinary folks are
increasingly ripe for exposure as well. There is a proliferation of new sites dedicated to condemning offenses ranging from bad parking ( and leering ( to littering ( and general bad behavior ( One site documents locations where people have failed to pick up after their dogs. Capturing newspaper-stealing neighbors on video is also
an emerging genre.
Helping drive the exposes are a crop of entrepreneurs who hope to sell advertising and subscriptions. One site that lets people identify bad drivers is about to offer a $5 monthly service, for people to register several of their own plate numbers and receive notices if they are cited by other drivers. But the traffic and commercial prospects for many of the sites are so limited that clearly there is something else at work. The embrace of the Web to expose trivial transgressions in part
represents a return to shame as a check on social behavior, says Henry Jenkins, director of the comparative media studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some academics believe shame became less powerful as a control over everyday interactions with strangers in all but very small neighborhoods or social
groups, as people moved to big cities or impersonal suburbs where they existed more anonymously. The sites documenting minor wrongs are the flip side of an
online vigilantism movement that tackles meatier social issues.
Community organization Cop Watch Los Angeles encourages users to send in stories and pictures of people being brutalized or harassed by police, for posting on the Web. The governor of Texas plans to launch a site this year that will air live video of the border, in hopes that people will watch and report illegal crossings. In a trial run in November, the site received more than 14,000 emails. Tips included spottings of individuals swimming in the Rio Grande, a person wearing a large white hat and a "wild'' boy at the border. In China, Web postings have become a powerful social
weapon, used to rally thousands of people to hound a man who allegedly had an affair with a married woman.
For people singled out, the sites can represent an unsettling form of street justice, with no due process. Chris Roth's driving skills have been roundly criticized online by self-anointed traffic monitors. "This man needs his license revoked,'' wrote one poster,who accused Mr. Roth of cutting in and out. Another charged him with driving on a shoulder and having the audacity to "flip off'' an old lady who wouldn't let him cut in.
Mr. Roth found the critiques when an anonymous writer added a comment to his MySpace profile in late November directing him to PlateWire, one of the handful of new sites devoted to bad driving. There, a user had posted Mr. Roth's license-plate information -his vanity plate reads "IDRVFAST'' - and complained about his reckless driving style. Subsequent posters found and listed his full name,
cellphone number and link to his MySpace page, as well as comments like "big jerk'' and "meathead.'' (He has no idea how they found his information.) "There is no accountability. You can just go online and say whatever you want whether it's factual or not,'' says the 37-year-old Mr. Roth, of Raleigh, N.C., who works in technology
sales. He admits he is an impatient driver and speeds, but he has no plans to change his driving style based on posts by anonymous commentators. "Who are they to decide what is safe or not?'' he says.
If you type "ycantpark'' into photo-sharing site Flickr, there are about 200 photos of bad parking jobs at Yahoo Inc.'s Sunnyvale,Calif., headquarters. The company says the posts were started anonymously around 2005 by employees disgruntled with the parking situation. During that year, Yahoo hired more than 2,100 new employees, and finding a parking space become difficult. "I don't want to have my car posted up there so I definitely think twice about how I park,'' says Yahoo spokeswoman Heidi Burgett.
The digital age allows critics to quickly find a fair amount of information about their targets. One day last November, at about 11:30 a.m., a blog focused on making New York streets more bike-friendly posted the license plate number of an SUV driver who allegedly accelerated from a dead stop to hit a bicycle blocking his way.
At 1:16 p.m., someone posted the registration information for the license plate, including the SUV owner's name and address. (The editor of the blog thinks the poster got the information fromsomeone who had access to a license-plate look-up service,available to lawyers, private investigators and police.) At 1:31 p.m., another person added the owner's occupation, his business's name and his title. Ten minutes later, a user posted a link to an aerial photo of the owner's house. Within another hour, the posting also included the accused's picture and email address. The SUV's owner, Ian Goldman, the chief executive of Celerant Technology Corp. in the New York City borough of Staten Island, declined to comment for this article. According to an email exchange posted on the blog, Mr. Goldman said that he had lent the
vehicle in question to a relative with "an urgent medical situation'' and that he was not aware of any incident. The alleged victim has decided to drop the matter since the damage to thebicycle, which he was standing next to at the time, was under $20.
Last month, Aaron Naparstek, editor of the blog, says he removed Mr. Goldman's home and email addresses from the site after receiving a "lawyerly cease and desist'' email asking that thewhole posting be deleted.
Other sites have also received complaints asking that posts be removed. Most say they will remove identifying information like phone numbers or full names when it comes to their attention or if asked. Yet lawyers say alleged wrongdoers shamed online typically have little legal recourse under libel and privacy laws if the
accusations in postings are true, if they are posters' opinions about behavior witnessed in a public place and if the personal information listed is available to the public. "It becomes very difficult when it comes to the shaming sites in terms of what you can do in creating a case,'' says Daniel Solove, an associate professor of law at George Washington University Law School, who is working on a book about gossiping, shaming and privacy on the Internet. hosts pictures of cars illegally parked in handicapped spaces. (Other objects qualify, too; one photo from Plano, Texas, is called ``Big Rubber Chicken parked in accessible parking spaces.'') Playground snoops can log onto the five-month-old, where users have posted details about nannies committing misdeeds, like feeding children HoHos.
Some of the sites are attracting little attention. lists fewer than 10 U.S. infractions, has about six stories of rudeness and has none. Many ask for donations to cover costs, but some owners are hoping to make money. Mark Buckman launched PlateWire in May after almost getting run off the road a few months earlier by several drivers, including one who was looking in his backseat and steering with his leg. The site now lists nearly 25,000 license-plate
numbers, chastised for moves like tailgating with brights on and driving too slowly in the left lane. To drum up revenue, Mr. Buckman recently added advertising and an online store with branded merchandise. Users in about 15 states can also pay $2 to have a postcard sent to an offending driver, directing the accused to the site. He plans to launch another site this year that will allow people to rate and complain about local businesses and individuals. "If I can create jobs and create an empire that would be awesome,but my main goal is to make a Web site that can actually make real
world changes,'' Mr. Buckman says.
Yahoo photo site Flickr has an "I hate stupid people'' group that focuses on shots of regular people parking or dressing badly,among other misdeeds. It has nearly 60 members, as does the similar "Jerks'' group, for pictures of "neighbor cats pooping on your lawn'' or SUVs parked in compact spots. On Google Inc.'s YouTube, users have contributed videos of minor wrongs, like people cutting in line. On the blogs, one poster refers to this new form of revenge as "blogslapping,'' a word that previously just referred to when one blogger criticizes another's blog.
After Tim Halberg's Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press didn't show up on his doorstep for six days straight last March, he grabbed his camera and launched a stakeout. He stayed up all night waiting for the newspaper to arrive. When it did, he attached a note declaring, "I'm watching you! Don't ever steal my paper again,'' and left it on the driveway. Then he waited with his front door open a crack to catch the thief. The robed culprit: Hisneighbor at the time, a man who looks to be in his 50s. Mr. Halbergcaptured him on video walking up to the paper, reading the note and
walking away. Mr. Halberg never approached the neighbor about the issue
directly, but he found four of the older newspapers in front of his house the next day. The 26-year-old wedding photographer posted the video on YouTube, where it's been viewed more than 850 times.
Online shaming is happening across the world, with several well-publicized cases in China. Last fall, one blogger posted photos and the license plate number of a Beijing driver who got out of his car and threw aside the bicycle of a woman blocking his way.
The driver was quickly identified by Internet vigilantes and soon apologized on television for his behavior. And on a popular Website last year, after one husband accused a student of having an affair with his wife, other users posted the student's phone number and other personal details. After that, groups of people showed up
at his university and parents' home, according to some reports. The student denied the affair.
Some suggest that public shaming could be used here as a tool for social betterment. In a paper in the November issue of the New York University Law Review, Lior Strahilevitz, a law professor at the University of Chicago, suggested that roads would be safer if every car had a "How's My Driving?'' placard on the bumper asking
other drivers to report bad behavior. The neighbor-as-Big-Brother approach is already being deployed offline. Since August, spectators at Cincinnati Bengals home games have been able to call 513-381-JERK to complain about rowdy fans.
When a call comes in, security zooms in on the area with stadium cameras, confirms there's a problem and dispatches security. Initially, the hotline was receiving more than 100 calls a game, about 75 percent of which were crank calls. Reports were recently down to about 40 a game, with less than 25 percent being crank calls.
Posting a snarky message online is often safer than confronting bad behavior face to face. "You never know how people are going to react in person,'' says Scott Terry, 32, who works in advertising in Chicago. Last spring, he posted a photo on Flickr of a "cell
phone bus yapper'' who disrupted his morning commute. The caption: "Can't you use your inside voice?''
For others, posting can be revenge enough. In April, Grace Davis, 51, a stay-at-home mom in Santa Cruz, Calif., captured a "pushy customer'' wearing a Hermes-like scarf and black sunglasses while ordering around sales people at Molinari Delicatessen in San Francisco with words like "gimme.'' Ms. Davis posted the photo online and wrote "Not nice! No fresh Molinari raviolis for you, madam'' over the woman's face. "I can just happily walk away,'' says Ms. Davis, "because as we say in New Age Santa Cruz, 'It's out in the universe now.'''
Trivial Pursuits

Many Web sites _ some general, some specific _ catalog everyday
misdeeds committed by average people. Here is a sampling:

COMMENTS: On these sites, users can report bad drivers and cite
license plate numbers. At some, people can also report good
drivers, though far fewer do so. At least eight PlateWire users
have chastised themselves online, including one in Nevada last
month who apologized for cutting another driver off in a post
titled ``Telling on Myself.''

TRANSGRESSION: Bad or illegal parking
SITES: youparklikeana _
COMMENTS: Parking on the sidewalk, taking up two spaces,
cramping in another driver _ they're all there. doesn't show many photos, but it says it sold
about 30,000 bumper stickers displaying the site address last year,
up from 10,000 in 2005.

TRANSGRESSION: Leaving dog droppings
COMMENTS: Photos and videos on the two sites have captions like
``bad owner.'' One YouTube chronicle, ``a nice doggy's bad owner
leaves a landmine on Dean Street in Brooklyn,'' has been viewed
nearly 1,300 times since it went up in April.

TRANSGRESSION: Leering, whistling at women
SITES: and other HollaBack sites
COMMENTS: Women can post pictures and videos of men who leer or
make comments like ``hey baby, wanna make love??!!'' launched in 2005, inspired by one woman who
photographed a lewd man on the subway. Now, there are at least 14
other local sites in the U.S. and Canada.

COMMENTS: Site doesn't post license plate numbers of littering
drivers, but it does act. Reported plateholders in participating
states (Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina) get a notice _ the
site sends the details to the state, which then mails a letter to
the vehicle owner. For other states, the site may send an email to
the governor.

TRANSGRESSION: Loud talking on a cellphone
COMMENTS: Flickr abounds with pictures of people talking loudly
on cellphones or displaying bad cell etiquette. Could you be there?
Photos have titles and comments like ``TalksTooLoud,'' ``Loud
talker'' and ``Chatty McBlabsalot.''

TRANSGRESSION: Yelling at children
COMMENTS: Five-month-old site has about 190 sightings so far,
and most relate tales of bad behavior. Two more sites for nannies _ and _
have since been launched in reaction.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kudos To Michael Douglas

A friend of mine spotted Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones at a restaurant. Michael Douglas got a call on his cellphone and said to the caller "Hang on a moment" and walked outside to take the call. Ms. Zeta-Jones is a lucky woman.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

At The Drive-Up Bank Teller

Miss Manners addresses how to handle rude cell phone behavior at the drive-up bank teller:

Dear Miss Manners,
I am a bank teller at a drive-up bank. People will often come through the drive-up while speaking on their cell phones. When I try to ask a question about a transaction they are trying to make, I feel rude because I have to interrupt the conversation. I also believe the customer to be rude when they motion for me to wait for the conversation to end. It is especially frustrating when there is a long line of cars behind them. What do you suggest?

Gentle Reader,
Politely motioning them to keep moving, so that you can help the next person in line. Of course, they are the rude ones, not you. While they can spend their waiting time talking, the principle of drive-up lines requires them to be ready to do business when it is their turn.

Should these people continue to ignore you, Miss Manners suggests finding a way to signal your helplessness to the next in line, by tossing up your arms if you are visible to the next car, or by using a microphone to announce, "Next, please." If you can manage one of these, you may be sure that the next driver will start honking—which may be rude, but that is not your responsibility.

Mr Really Loud Cellphone Talker

don dokken told me that just days after I started this blog he heard a new Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercial - Mr. Really Loud Cellphone Talker. Since then, I have heard it several times myself. I spent all of last night trying to find the words to this radio ad. I am getting close and am now in a yahoo group called "Bud Light Real Men of Genius." "Good Luck and Good Night" is sitting here waiting to be watched but, no, I spend my night searching for words.)The things I do for my blogs...

The words are hillarious. I should be posting them here any day now.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rude Cell Phone Speaker Behavior

It must have taken a year for the speakerphone trend to get from New York to Los Angeles. The article below was published in Business Week in March 2005. The authoer talks about the trend being advanced by people under the age of 30. That was not the case in my situation. The women I refer to in this post were way old enough know better.

March 09, 2005
Can Anyone Elighten Me About The Rudest Cell Phone Behavior of All?
David Kiley

I ride the train from New Jersey to Manhattan on most days, and I have recently become aware of a growing trend of the rudest cell-phone behavior of all.

These are the people who not only talk the whole time, filling the car with blather, but they use the speaker function of the phone to boot. In this case, what we get is a garbled fuzz of blather from the sap we can't see, a beep when they are done blathering, and then our train companion's back-chatter. This is roughly like sitting next to a security guard in a mall for the duration of the trip as he monitors all his checkpoints or monitoring a police channel.

At first, I thought this was an isolated incident. But No. This is a bonafide trend. Here goes another Andy Rooney moment I am having. Can anyone explain to me: What is the attraction of using a cell-phone like a walkie talkie or a speaker phone on a crowded train? And, more importantly, what the hell were you people doing when the creator was handing out sense and manners?

What does this have to do with marketing? Cultural trends are always pertinent to marketing. Rudeness run amok must be some sort of flash point for advertisers and their agencies.

So far, this is a trend advanced mostly by young people under the age of 25 in and around New York City, as I observe. However, I'd peg the last phone-goon doing this on my train at about 30 years old.

Soon, I am going to retaliate, as I did a few months ago when some corporate chieftain was blathering through an entire conference call while standing shoulder to shoulder with me on the train. Trying to read my paper in peace, I became so fed up that I began reading the Times op-ed column aloud into his face. When he stopped, I stopped. That was a good day.

Spa Pedicure Cell Phone Behavior

I was having a pedicure and a woman walked in and loudly announced that it was her birthday. She was seated in the chair next to me and shortly after her arrival said to me "I'm sorry to disturb your relaxation but I'm going to have to get on an important work conference call in a minute."

In case you're interested, she was leaving for Houston the next day and it sounded like she was coordinating some sort of concert event and she was very worried about the weather and having the proper clothes. I am sure there were some details actually pertaining to her work in there too.

But cell phones are great because now people can work while they're getting their toes and nails done and their brows waxed and stuff and it is all very efficient.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Stupid Cell Phone Behavior

sputnik posted this in the comments but I think it deserves a post of its own:

Talk about rude cell phone behavior . . . a woman was recently arrested (thank goodness) because WHILE SHE WAS ROBBING SOME BANKS she was talking to her boyfriend on a cell phone. Gees! She couldn't just say, "Honey, I gotta hang up--the line moved and I'm at the teller window now." Or, "'Scuse me, I'll call you back; the teller needs to be able to understand exactly what I'm saying. I need to give her my full attention." The calls were traced. Unfortunately, it wasn't the rude cell phone behavior that landed her in jail. Just the robbing while coincidentally talking on the phone.

Perfume Of Life

Joules informs that rude cell phone behavior is a big perfume of life forum topic:

Le Frite Restaurant

Last night I had dinner at a nice French restaurant. I had the choice of sitting in the back or sitting in what they called the patio area. It was an indoor patio, very bright, very pleasant. Until three tables away from me a group of women pulled out a cellphone, turned the speakerphone feature on, and started having a chat. In the middle of a nice French restaurant. Wow. It is bad enough just listening to someone talk on the phone but to have to hear a conference call was a little much. I asked to move to the back. "Do they think they're in their own living room?" I asked the waiter. "This is a RESTAURANT."

The wait staff was totally on my side and they told me that rude cell phone behavior happens all the time. They said that there is a regular who comes in for lunch and just chats the whole time.
I could see the group of women from where I was sitting in the back and they pulled out the cell phone again towards the end of their meal. I don't know if they were having another speakerphone talk or if they were using the camera feature on the phone and documenting their rude obnoxiousness.

After they left, the waiter told me he did not give them premiere service....the food was good and the staff was nice. They need to work on their clientele.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Purpose of This Blog

I am sick of rude cell phone behavior and I am hoping to do something about it. I don't know what the answer is, though. I know there are ways of blocking cell phone reception but I am not necessarily in favor of because the great thing about a cell phone is that you can reach people if there is an emergency. I think that public places definitely need to develop and enforce cell phone policies. For example, there is a drugstore nearby that has a post office with a sign that basically says you will not be helped if you are talking on a cell phone.

So the purpose of this blog is mainly for me and others to vent when they are the victim of rude cell phone behavior. Send me your stories and I will post them. I will, of course, be posting my own stories as well as pertinent cell phone news.