Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Cell Phone Etiquette: What do you think?

AdventureMan and I were having lunch yesterday and I saw a couple at another table, both on their cell phones. So, like they were sharing a meal, but not really sharing time with each other.

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I’m not that big of a cell/mobile phone fan, although my son and my sister both have iPhones, which I look at with envy and think one day I will get one. I carry it because I think it would really be a bad thing in Kuwait to be in a car accident, not my fault, with our without a cell phone. I carry it so I can reach my husband in an emergency. But sometimes, yes, my bad, I forget it and don’t even miss it. Sometimes I stick it in my purse and remember two days later that it is still there.

Here is how I see it. If you are with another person – like if you and your best-friend-forever are having lunch, sharing your deep down secrets, how do you feel about them taking a phone call, one that really doesn’t matter? I totally understand if there are emergencies, or even if one of the children wants to ask something, but what about a full-blown conversation? Chat chat chat chat chat as if you don’t exist?

AdventureMan and I used to disagree about this. Now, if he gets a phone call and he thinks it can wait, he doesn’t answer. If he thinks it might be important, he answers but keeps it short. If we are in a large group and it is a crisis call, he will leave the group, and not subject us to be unwilling evesdroppers. I am very comfortable with this. if it is just the two of us and a tricky phone call comes in, I just pull out my Sudoku and work on a puzzle until he is free to rejoin me. It works for us.

I feel the same way about texting. Some people are very good at doing it so subtly that no one else knows; I don’t mind that. If you are in a meeting, however, and there is a speaker, don’t you think the right thing to do is to put away your phone and pay attention to the speaker? If you are with a friend, isn’t it rude to be texting all the time to someone else? What kind of message does that send about how much you value the relationship with me?

If you are texting while you are driving, how much attention are you paying to the road? I see you, half in my lane because you are trying to read the response!

I don’t like being accessible to the world 24/7. I think these mobile phones are supposed to be our servants, not our masters. I like seeing who is calling (if your number doesn’t show your name on my phone, I won’t be answering!) I like getting and sending messages. I just have a feeling there is a time and place for everything. If I have made plans to see you – I want you to pay attention to me!

Am I way out of whack on this?

There is a little voice telling me this is generational, that I am falling a little out of step with the modern way of doing things. So, you tell me. How do you see it?

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April 25, 2009 Posted by | Character, Communication, Family Issues, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Random Musings, Relationships | 25 Comments

Horseback Riding Camp

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“Whatever you might have heard from your kids” the camp director started, and AdventureMan and I looked at one another with concern, “it is just rumors. The counselors did not have a big drunken party, and we have the situation under control.”

We hadn’t heard anything. We were there to pick up our son and his best friend from Horseback Riding Camp. They were eight years old and this was their first time away. We had dropped them off a mere week before, at the clean clean little chalet camp in Southern Germany, where they would learn to ride and take care of their horses.

“So, son,” AdventureMan starts with that casual voice grown-ups use with their children when about to launch an interrogation, “tell us about the camp!”

We were driving back, and wanted to get a campers-eye-view of the week. Our eight-year-old son was exhausted and not very talkative; it was only during the following week that most of the details came out.

He hated horseback riding. He hated taking care of horses. The instruction they got was minimal to non-existent. Most days they missed their horse riding lessons because the counselor overslept. The kids got up and got their own breakfast – cereal – until the milk ran out, and then they ate it dry.

Horrors. We had done everything right. We had checked the camp references, had visited and inspected the camp before deciding to send him there, had met the counselors – horrors! In fact, our son enjoyed the week, but mostly because they had a TV, and no supervision. They spent most of the week watching TV.

In the following years, he went to other camps – adventure training camp, karate camps, Space Camp (that was the best organized) and then became a camp counselor himself, teaching karate. Our most graphic memories as parents, however, are of picking him up at horseback riding camp and learning how loosely organized and supervised it was, compared to what the brochure said and the inspection visit promised.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Germany, Leadership, Lies, Living Conditions | 2 Comments