So at one of my jobs, I sit at a desk that faces out of the library through glass doors into the “lobby” area. The library is so small and so quiet that, when a cell phone rings, you know immediately who has it. Basically, people just take their phone call outside to talk–sometimes people answer it inside, then say “wait,” then take it outside the glass windows, sometimes they try to finish the call in under 10 seconds inside (but that’s generally frowned upon), and sometimes they pretend that they don’t speak English or that another language isn’t as bothersome to other people, or that because no one stares them down like a gunslinger, that it “really is just a second, nothing more.” Any way you look at it, it’s rude and intrusive. Even just the ring can set other people off. It’s also surprising to me that folks can’t get the “vibrate mode” concept down.
Nonetheless, what interests me is often outside the glass windows. It’s like a lion’s den–people on their cellphones pacing back and forth. Sometimes they look inside to the library, but continue talking. Sometimes their voices come so loudly that it comes through the door and I can hear their frustration and all the details of their struggle. Sometimes they stand in front of the doors and people try to come in, but have to make them move by tapping them on the shoulders. Sometimes they look at their watches and gauge the time they have left. Sometimes they smile and laugh loudly, getting more and more excited, pacing faster and faster.
I’m not sure they even know that they are on display–like a person in a glass cage in front of a group of people working at desks. So far, I haven’t seen anyone throw their phone. I have had people complain. Unfortunately, there’s still no generally agreed upon etiquette for cell phone use.