Darrell Huckaby - Cell phones ringing in the decline of Western civilization

Is it just me or have good manners gone the way of the dinosaur?

My mama and 'em used to drill us every day about our manners. "You'd better do this" she would tell me and "I'd better not ever hear of you doing that, she would say.

I think they called that "minding one's p's and q's," and you'd better believe that we minded them, too.

Not any more, though. Oh, I suppose people still say please and thank you and once in a great while a person will hold a door open for another human being, but my mama would be aghast at the way some folks choose to behave these days. I blame it all on technology - primarily the cell phone. Communication is destroying communication. By that I mean that people are too busy talking to and chatting with and texting the people in their "network" to pay any attention to the people in their presence.

Where is it written that you have to answer a cell phone call, no matter when it comes in or where it comes in from? But folks do, don't they?

Think about it. Have you ever been riding along in a car, having a conversation with someone and their cell phone rings? Sure you have. And I bet you dollars to donuts that they stopped in mid-sentence and answered that sucker, too. That's just what folks do. And then for the next 5 or 10 minutes - or even longer - you get to sit and listen to one side of their conversation. Am I the only one who finds that irritating?

My mama would roll over in her grave if she knew that I ever did anything like that and my daddy would blow a gasket if he knew that I put up with other folks doing it - but I do, of course.

The people who take calls don't irritate me nearly as bad as the folks who initiate calls. After all, when you take a call there is always the excuse that it "might be an emergency," although I don't remember what we did about emergencies before everybody was connected with everybody else through the magic of satellite communication. But I know folks who as soon as they get in the car with someone take out their phones and start punching in numbers.

Excuse me. I am right here. If you want me to be your chauffeur you should buy me one of those fancy leather caps and sit in the back seat - and pay me!

I ain't talking about a friend who has to make a quick call to check up on one of the kids or find out what time they are expected to be home for supper. I am talking about the folks who carry on a long conversation - or, worse yet, a series of them. That's just plain rude.

And the whole texting thing isn't that much better. I bought my lovely wife Lisa an iPhone for Christmas last year and I don't mind admitting, I created a monster. We already have less to talk about than we used to, and nowadays, every time we do find ourselves in a conversation, her phone will go "ding, ding" and I am forgotten as her thumbs fly over the keyboard, texting a response to whoever it was that dinged her in the first place.

Don't even get me started on my kids. I will spend an entire afternoon shopping and preparing a nice home-cooked supper and my 16-year-old daughter Jenna - Queen of the Eye-Roll - doesn't understand why I have a problem with her sitting at the table texting her friends throughout the entire meal.

It doesn't stop there, of course. I have seen, and even been in the presence of, folks who will whip out their cell phones in a restaurant, at a table full of people, and make a call. Not only do these folks annoy me and the other people at their table, but everybody else in the general vicinity as well. And these people never talk in a quiet voice, do they? 

You know, they act as if the whole world is hanging on their every word and they want to make sure that the people standing in line at the cashier counter get to hear all the important stuff they have to say, the stuff that couldn't possibly wait until they were in private to discuss.

I have said it many times before, but I will say it again. We are presiding over the decline of civilization and aren't even smart enough to realize it.

Actually, I have a lot more to say about this issue, too - but I have a call coming in on my cell phone. I really need to take it. It might be one of the kids. It might even be an emergency. You just go right ahead with whatever it is you were doing and we'll talk some more later. 

But when we do, don't even get me started on folks who can't show up for an appointment on time.


Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.