Diamond Jim's Corner: Cell Phone Etiquette

Posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 at 11:14 am by Jim

For all of you old timers out there, remember the good old days when there were NO cell phones? In those days the world did not care what you were going to wear to school on Monday, or that you were bored, or that you were going to feed your dog. Everything was on a need to know basis. If someone really needed to know something, such as grandpa just had an accident on the tractor, then someone would rush to you to tell you... but only IF you needed to know at that moment. Otherwise, someone who NEEDED to know was informed. There was no emergency to get in touch with someone, and better yet, their privacy was preserved. Today anyone who wants to contact anyone else simply dials an iPhone and butts right into an ongoing face to face conversation. The rudeness of the person having to constantly call is bad enough, but the rudeness of those compulsive enough to actually believe that somehow it is good manners and proper etiquette to TAKE the call in the middle of a conversation is worse yet. In fact, it is intolerable! So now I'd like to describe an incident that happened recently, and explain what I chose to do to make the point of how I feel toward this NEW AGE RUDENESS. I had a male and female customer call me out of my office for my acknowledged expert opinion on the value of an older Rolex watch. I did not charge for my expert opinion of value, although it is no different than the valuable expertise and training necessary to give an opinion on a possible appendectomy. These folks apparently did not understand the value of a professional written appraisal, seeming to think that a verbal estimate of value was going to enable them to sell a Rolex. As an aside, the charge for a written appraisal would have been well worth the charge because it would have provided absolute credibility and proof of the value... which of course would have allowed the folks to sell the watch for more and therefore cover their appraisal cost plus. But I was willing to give them the free verbal assessment. After diagnosing the potential problems with the movement, I began explaining the value of the watch and bracelet, taking into consideration that the bracelet was hollow and not genuine, and also explaining how the value of this particular watch had declined not only due to the condition of the watch and bracelet, but also because of the drawbacks of the particular older movement which was not even a single-quick mechanism. This is important stuff, folks... and the exact sort of thing that is necessary to sell it. In the middle of my short dissertation on the watch, which had taken on the atmosphere of one of the Antiques Roadshow segments on television, the fellow simply reached into his pocket, removed a cell phone, stared blankly at me, and began conversing while I was in mid-sentence. He turned... and unbelievably, walked away to take his call. I was genuinely stunned! I was speechless which is rarely the case with me. His grown daughter stood and stared at me. I looked at her, set the watch and bracelet on the counter, and told her that I thought that was one of the rudest displays I had ever seen. And that I thought it was ruder still because he was asking me for my time, at no charge, to provide him with a valuation that could ONLY be done by a professional. She only grinned and said she agreed. He continued with his call. I could only stand there awestruck. She meekly asked if I knew how much the watch was worth. I told her that I knew EXACTLY how much the watch was worth, and said no more. She smiled and asked if I could tell her. I said that I could tell her, but that I had chosen NOT to tell her. I explained that this was not arrogrance on my part, but was an act of defiance against the crudeness and rudeness exhibited by her father. I told her that I was making a choice to decline to help him further because of his unmitigated act of rudeness toward me. Now I'll tell you what this lack of common sense has begun in my business to try to stop this abuse dead in its tracks. I have posted a new sign as follows: CELL PHONE ETIQUETTE * Please hang up your cell phones while being waited on. * Please do not answer your cell phone while being serviced. * If you have to answer your cell phone, please excuse us to work until you are finished, and take your place at the end of the line if waiting for repair. * If you have a Blue Tooth, we refuse to compete with your caller. Please let us know when you are finished.