Sadly, yes. We can ALL hear you now.
Denizens of good manners scored yet another loss late last month as New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) introduced cell-phone connectivity on select platforms in the city's subway system. Riders "lucky" enough to have either AT&T or T-Mobile can now surf the web (and chat) at stations along 14th and 23rd Streets. Although this may seem like progress, I think there are simply places where cell service should not be an option....public rest rooms, funeral homes, houses of worship, movie theaters, airplanes and yes, subterranean subway platforms.
As if the wait for a train is not torture enough. Now everyone nearby can be held captive to the jibberjabbering of loudmouths whose voices reverberate through tunnels even more clearly than most subway annoucements do. And I'm not sure who gets the worse end of this deal...the other waiting passengers or the person on the other end of the line. To wit:
"HOLD ON, CHARLIE! THAT"S THE EXPRESS GOING BY. I'LL BE BACK ON WITH YOU IN A MINUTE. OOOPS. NOW THAT'S THE DOWNTOWN LOCAL. AND HERE COMES THE DOWNTOWN EXPRESS. HOLD ON JUST ONE MORE SEC." By the time the caller gets back on the line, you know this will be his inevitable next comment: "OH. HERE COMES MY TRAIN NOW. GOTTA GO! GREAT TALKING WITH YOU!!"
The one consolation here is that at least the phone will not work aboard a moving subway car. (Yet!) Until that "advance" comes to fruition, let's all follow these guidelines when using our phones underground:
•Surf to your heart's content. Browsing distracts no one but you. (As long as you're not playing Angry Birds with the volume up.)
•Send e-mails and texts--I've got nothing against multitasking--but keep the cute alert tones off.
•Keep your phone calls short and to the point. Unless you're a celebrity (and then, why are you riding the subway anyway?) no one wants to hear your conversation.
•Use the speakerphone when placing calls. It's bad enough that people on the platform have to listen to you. They certainly don't want to hear both parties.
•Keep talking if you've got a bad connection. Yelling "WHAT?!!!! CAN'T HEAR YA!" will endear you to no one.
•Get so caught up in a conversation that you actually miss your train. If you've got an important call to make, wait till you're above ground--and better, yet, more than 10 feet away from the next nearest person.
Is the MTA attemtping to make its incessant delays and crowded platforms and subway cars more palatable by letting us use our phones? I'm not entirely sure, but I will say that the greatest irony in all of this is that my cell phone now works better in the subway than it does in my apartment.
They call that progress?
What do you think? Tweet me @mistermanners.