You will recognise this guest at every table. Communicative but not respectful of the conversation going on around them; butting in without respect for the subject, the guests, the food or the precious time being spent with the other people. Demanding attention, physical and mental, and completely distracting.
I’m talking about mobile phones, PDAs, smart phones and the like. In the good old days when pagers were around, these were at least only used for important types; doctors and surgeons for example. Today we are all far too important and far too busy to have a two-hour meal without interference from such devices.
I appreciate it must be left on for those with children for example or a pregnant wife, but use the setting that enables you (and the rest of the party) to be disturbed ONLY if nominated people call you. A text message will not be notifying you of anything that needs immediate attention like a kidnapping, birth or death.
Mobile communication is no substitute for real conversation. Time is precious. If you don’t want to be with the people you are at the table with, don’t book to see them, or at least, if it is imperative you meet, feign illness and leave.
Should you be expecting that million – dollar deal / baby arrival call, inform your party on arrival that you may have to leave the table should this call come through. And once taken, you can switch it to silent and keep it away from the line of sight.
Remember, your device should facilitate communication, not terminate it.
A new game is sweeping the USA and UK, whereby, people who have to have their beloved phones on the table lay them on top of each other face down, and the first person to look at theirs / has a call or message come though – has to pay for that round, course or meal. A game that should be introduced in every country.
Send your etiquette queries to Mr Right on firstname.lastname@example.org