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I am sick and tired of cell phones in the theater

It happened again. In the middle of a poignant moment on stage, that man’s cell phone rings, and it’s so loud that I, with maybe 10 people in the straight line between us, can figure out which of his deep pockets the offending cell phone is ringing its not very distinctive tone. The actors freeze on stage. The entire audience’s attention is now on the man’s cell phone. The man finally realizes it is his cell phone ringing, reaches so deep in his pocket the phone must have been touching his calves, and it’s still ringing, by now it’s truly annoying, not the ringing itself but the unbelievably clueless man. It is in his left pocket, maybe he’s right-handed and slightly slower with his left hand, we don’t know. Finally we all see the phone, a late model expensive type of course, and we all think: press the top button until a slider comes up on the screen and slide the slider. But no, the man checks whose name or number is on his screen, and by now it has stopped ringing, so the actors are about to resume where they were. The man has pushed some button or whatever, but has not turned off the phone, so guess what? It starts ringing again, and the public starts finding his inability to turn off the phone appalling. Fortunately, it was not back in the pocket, so he silences that second ringing pretty quickly, but the entire audience now watching the man has noticed he has not really turned it off. So now we fear it will ring again. We forgot what was going on on stage. The actors seem to have trained to freeze and resume, but our minds are now on the man’s phone.

I am tempted at the end to catch the man and ask for my ticket money so I can buy a new ticket and hope the play won’t be interrupted then.

I hope theaters start scrambling cell phone signals to disable them. Or shame patrons by shining a spotlight on them when their phone rings. But perhaps they could have a video at the beginning to explain how to turn it off. I’m serious. Most people, because I can see them do it, seem to have trouble figuring out how to shut it off. So they go through menus as the house goes dark, and we can still see them making sure they’re not completely turning it off because who knows what that would do, maybe they wouldn’t be able to secure an Uber right out of the theater before other people do it.

To the man whose cell phone rang tonight: congratulations on ruining hundreds of people’s theater experience.

And by the way, that phone on vibrate is as annoying to the people who happen to be sitting closer to your bag than you are. So don’t even think about vibrate. TURN IT OFF!

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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