Picture this: You're in a theater watching the latest blockbuster movie. Just
as the plot begins to thicken... A piercing ring cuts through the actor's lines.
It's the all too familiar sound of a certain gadget we love to hate. The cell
If you're stoked over this scenario, you're not alone. Movie-goers nationwide
are fed up with cell phones breaking the silence in theaters. In this decade,
the information age, some people are not willing to put up with the annoying ring
of a cellular phone at meetings, food joints and especially movie theaters. And
now they may not have to.
Star Theaters, an affiliate of Loews Cineplex Theaters and Entertainment,
recently declared "phone free zones" in at least ten of their theaters in the
state of Michigan. Moviegoers are warned of the implications of pulling out
their phone in the theater as soon as they buy their movie ticket. They get
a coupon that says: "phone free zones -- please turn off your phone while in
Guests are again reminded via a sign at the entrance of each theater. Those
who are caught with their cell phones ringing or their beepers beeping, are
approached by a theater attendant who hands them an attention-getting, glow-in
the-dark card asking them to switch off their gadget.
Because the number of complaints about cell phone use in theaters is increasing,
Krys Bylund, President of Star Theaters, says the company decided to "nip it
in the bud" by mandating a set of rules and regulations. Bylund says nearly
all the customers she's talked with are 100 percent behind the company's new
policy. In the future, "you'll probably see theaters around the country (taking)
a more aggressive stance," she says.
The bothersome sound of a cell phone and disruptive behavior of its owner
is not just a problem exclusive to movie theaters. Some restaurant owners are
also growing more and more ticked off.
"People are no longer considerate," says Russell Gravatt, manager of Sushi
Ko, a Washington, D.C. restaurant. "They only attend to their own needs and
are not aware of other people around them." In response, a sign is posted in
Sushi Ko that reads: "In consideration of our fellow guests, we ask that you
refrain from using cell phones in the restaurant." The sign works about 85 percent
of the time, according to Gravatt, who adds that the remaining customers simply
choose to ignore it.
College campuses across the country are also experiencing the unpleasant cell
phone phenomenon. Many university staff and faculty are growing tired of the
disruptive rings in classes, hallways and throughout the grounds.
"There are many times you may be in meetings with student leaders and you
may be in the middle of an important topic and the cell phone may go off. And
quite honestly it is a distraction," says Michael Gargano, Assistant Vice President
of Student and Academic Support Services at George Washington University.
Gargano says it might not be a bad idea to create a one-hour session about
cell phone etiquette on campus. He adds, "Part of it has to do with respect
and common courtesy."