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Private Phone calls in Public Places and Why we Hate them.

Updated on October 16, 2015

Private phone conversations..

Cafe conversations.
Cafe conversations. | Source

Phone conversations in different spaces

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Long phone conversations.Public spaces
Long phone conversations.
Long phone conversations. | Source
Public spaces
Public spaces | Source

Don't tempt me please!


Love it or hate it we all do it sometimes..but private details need to be kept PRIVATE right?

On a beautiful sunny day recently I decided to go out for lunch and headed for a local cafe overlooking the water. Deciding on a long lunch to take advantage of the warm weather and hoping that I could get some writing done I settled in to a cosy spot up the end of the verandah area out of the way of other patrons.
Tucked away in a corner I felt reasonably confident that it would be unlikely that I would be interrupted and pulled out my laptop and started tapping away at the keyboards immersing myself in a dramatic plot of a new story oblivious to my surrounds except for the view.

Imagine my surprise when an intrusive loud voice starts in on a phone conversation at the table beside me breaking the tranquility of the spot, oblivious to other patrons.
Impossible to ignore, the conversation continued on in graphic detail outlining the said middle aged male customers experiences and frustrations of baby sitting a friends cats.

Now don’t get me wrong I love cats.

And I don’t usually have a problem with other people talking beside me when I’m out for lunch or dinner. I mean after all that’s what’s so enjoyable about going out to eat with friends enjoying good food over conversation.

But this time listening, and believe me the guy was so loud I didn’t have a choice to do anything but listen, to a phone conversation about the cats waking him up in the middle of the night, jumping on the bed, scartching and claws into sensitive areas ( no imagination necessary) etc etc including coughing up fur balls, vomiting on the sheets, the color of the plegm?? and how sickly the cats seemed to be was not the most inviting conversation I’ve heard recently. Nor was it fit in my mind for a conversation to be had in a cafe. At lunch time. While other patrons me included were trying to enjoy their lunch. Describing the ins and outs of cat sickness is not my idea of good conversation at any time especially not in a public place.

And all of a sudden I wanted to grab the phone and shove it down the guy’s throat.

Blessed with a usual abundance of patience:) I was taken by surprise at my rather volatile reaction and found that I longed to grab the guys phone and shove it down his throat.

Needless to say my reaction got my attention and I started to think about why we get annoyed with people who do this and what we can do about it and brings me to the point of this article.

What do we do with those annoying intrusive private phone calls in public places?

I’m sure we have all been somewhere publicly and experienced and had to endure one if not many private conversations that should be kept exactly that. PRIVATE.

For example how many times have you been stuck somewhere.

Think: elevators trains, buses, planes; restaurant/cafes; in lines waiting for concerts, football/sporting events; etc, and had no choice but to listen to someone banging on about issues such as problems with a monster boss at work; an annoying colleague/ neighbor; love/sex life or lack there of or alternately their sexual prowess and or action between the sheets; the babysitter never turning up on time; childcare costs; boy friend/ girl friend problems; disgruntled friend issues; marital or financial issues; problems with the kids; annoying mother in law or ex’s.

I mean it’s usually the long problem based issues that are most offensive right. It’s not so likely that pleasant short conversations make your hair stand on end is it?

So what can we do?

In my situation no amount of throat clearing, loud sighing, fake coughing or moving things around on the table in a thumping kind of way seemed to make any impact on stopping the conversation.

A more subtle or..not so subtle plan of action might need to be implemented.

For example if you are caught in a similar situation where punching someones lights out is the only thought on your mind some of the following ideas might just work and stop the next babysitting cat worrier from uttering another word:

Stand up and pretend to trip over and fall against the offenders table. Be careful not to harm yourself or them (remember it’s too early yet) but do make sure that the cutlery hit’s the floor; or coffee/tea/latte/juice whatever sloshes in large puddles across the table or better still over the offenders clothing(results in deep satisfaction to offended one:)

Pretend to faint. This can work well if cleverly acted out in full eyecatching view of said loud voice as the offender will have to put the dam phone down and try to aid the fainting one. Who knows there may even be music to the offended’s ears with the words being said. “Sorry I have to go” and ending the phone call.

Scream “Fire” Or “I smell smoke” or I don’t know. I’ll leave this one to your imagination, I’m sure you can think of something er a little.. or a lot sinister to get the affect your after.

Lunge yourself at the offender pretending there is a human eating spider or some other equally nasty creature on their head. A bee, cock roach, wasp in their hair will suffice and proceed to swat at their head.

Perhaps a more rational approach is needed.

Failing all of the above and a little or a lot of self talk later when feeling exponentially more rational you might like to try another approach.

Gently ( note I said gently ) tap the offender on the shoulder and ask him/her to tone it down a bit. Of course this risks the offender becoming so offended and glare you down. Or becoming angry with a 'How dare you' kind of an attitude. (Neither of which after fifteen or so minutes of a cat sickness report you give a hoot about).

Or alternatively ask your waiter/waitress to intervene. Now this may or may not work depending on the waiters personality. Keep in mind that a timid approach usually doesn't work and it might be best to ask the more assertive type for their help to approach the offender and ask them to speak a little quieter so as not to bother other customers. It may be just the answer to the problem.

And lastly up and move yourself . To another table, carriage, seat, planet..far away from the offending cat worrier and try to enjoy the rest of your meal/ journey/commute.

Private phone conversations in public places.

How do you deal with annoying private phone conversations in a public place?

See results

Gotta love this!


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    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      You know poetryman6969 usually I take it as with most other things in life in my stride.. but sometimes loud phone conversations in public places just get to me..

      Thanks for reading..Cheers

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      3 years ago

      Why does this have to be explained at all? (And yes, I know it does) Doesn't anyone do any parenting? And can't the schools shoehorn some manners training alongside the propaganda they spout in their re-education camps?

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks is a rudeness that prevails across society..regardless of age it seems..


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      3 years ago from North Carolina

      I cannot imagine that anyone has not dealt with this problem in our current techno age. It is annoying. I get so frustrated with rude, obnoxious people. It's as if they have never been taught a single thing about etiquette. There must be something about this that is linked to having a narcissistic personality-after all, when the voice escalates and the person on the phone is oblivious about who is around them and how disturbing the behavior is, it's all about "me, me, me!"

      Well said, and lets hope we can maintain our civility and not punch the offender's lights out, lol UP/U/F/I

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thank you Thelma..oh you poor thing stuck in a train has got to be the worst hasn't it?? Glad you had a laugh..Cheers

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      4 years ago from Germany

      It happened to me many times inside a train or in a cafeteria. People just don´t think about others while in public. A good laugh hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh thank you Nell u r too kind.. This one is a bit of a hoot & did write it in one of my ah, funnier(read wanting to

      smash the next mobile phone I see) moments..seriously thanks for dropping by..Cheers

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Came back for another laugh! lol! its getting worse isn't it? if I see one more bimbo or himbo with a cell phone yacking away or even worse tapping the keys with those silly fingers I will,, well you get it! voted up and shared, love the new buttons!

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Well that is a reaction I've never quite had before but so glad I made you laugh!! From the sounds of it you get what I mean right? Thanks for dropping by Violet Jean..looking forward to more of your insightful hubs..


    • Violet Jean Frost profile image

      Violet Jean Frost 

      4 years ago

      Haaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaa I cannot stop laughing at this article! You are just hilarious!

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks Erin with the increase in mobile phone use & public etiquette no longer heeded by some ie phone calls @ restaurant tables it gets a bit crazy & annoying @ times..cheers

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Public phone conversations annoy me to no end. Some of your solutions were funny and some were actually useful. Great hub! :)

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Hello my lovely friend! Firstly let me say that it is very kind of you to make suggestions to help me out with my hubs..I really do need to get on to the ones that are idled and make the necessary changes and hopefully I will get to them before too long, but this year I have returned to work part time and don't get to write too many hubs. I am also working with an editor on my novel for publication so most of the rest of my time is taken up creatively writing!! And thank you for your comments about this hub and what a way to stop the guy from talking through the night!! You poor girl being exposed to that!! Anyway thanks for dropping by, I do appreciate and enjoy your thoughts.. and your excellent hubs..keep writing those fantastic social justice feel hubs!!


    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      You know you can download music on the Smart Phones. I know because my daughter has one. My phone is a stupid phone and only does the basics. Anyway, you could turn some music on rather loud so that the person on the cell phone would move in order to be able to hear. Once they step outside, you can turn the music off again.

      The only problem I have with cell phone use in public are those people who walk around with the ear piece in all the time and it seems like they're talking to themselves. If I don't see them right away, but hear them, sometimes I'm not sure at first if they're talking to me. That's irritating, but otherwise generally most people where I've been don't have loud conversations.

      However, if I did have to listen in on some loud discussion about a problem such as you described above, depending on the mood I was in, I might tap them on the shoulder and tell, "Since you've including me in this conversation, I have such suggestions on how to deal with that," etc."

      I live in a large apartment complex and sometimes my neighbors get loud. Loud around 2 AM or so when you could almost hear a pin drop because it's so quiet due to the time. They don't seem to realize their voices carry, and I can hear them like they were standing right next to me. I did have to hear about sexual problem one of them complaining about. I saw that neighbor a couple of days later, and I stopped him and gave him some advice, since I have studied sex and sexual problems at the university. I was considering it for a major. Well, he was surprised I knew about it and I told him that he had told me about it himself. Then I told him how he did that and now he holds his voice down. After all, if I hadn't overheard his conversation, I would have had no idea about his problem. That's the way it should be. I don't want to know, but often just telling someone they're talking too loud ticks them off and they get defensive. He did at first too, until he thought about it and realized I really did overhear his conversation and my windows and doors were shut and locked. So, that told him to hold it down or share with the whole neighborhood.

      Anyway, interesting article. I think a lot of people are trying to be more considerate, or maybe I've just been lucky not being in places where people just let it all out.


      Beyond this specific article, may I make a recommendation to you? I note that you have published 58 hubs, yet only about half are visible and available here on your profile page to be read.

      To correct that, go to your profile page. Click on "Edit Profile." Go to almost the bottom of that page where it says "Show only Featured Hubs on my profile:" Click on the 'NO' box and then all of your hubs will be visible again on your profile page.

      I realize they have been idled, which is why they aren't showing, but that's no reason not to make them available for readers interested in them. After all your work of writing them, let people who wish to read them do so. The advertising remains on them, so benefit all you can from them even though they are not currently indexed by Google.

      It has been my experience that some of my hubs go in and out of idleness in streaks as they become popular for a while and then not again. Back and forth, back and forth.

      The reason they are idled is because they do not get enough traffic. It isn't because they are defective. While it never hurts to edit and edit one's work for spelling and grammar errors, etc. (one's own eyes never seem able to find them all, but going over it again and again is helpful), the main thing is to use words in your title that someone might use if they were searching for information like the info in that specific hub. Ask yourself what words would you use if you were searching for this info. Use those words in your title.

      Snappy titles look great on the newsstand and on a magazine you have just purchased, but people using the Google search box aren't going to try to think those up when they're searching for your information. So what I'm saying here is that titles matter for search purposes. Changing the title to reflect the contents of the hub may affect the popularity of the hub, but the main reason a hub gets idled is because of little or no traffic.

      Otherwise do everything you can to get your hubs traffic. Promote your hubs whenever you get the opportunity, but also make them available to people who visit your profile. I visit people's profiles all the time looking for a hub that interests me. It's my way of saying thank you for taking time to read and comment on my hub. I realize that when someone comments, or especially if they share one of my hubs with their followers, that hub gets exposure and it may be just what is needed to make it successful.

      Wishing you great success!

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh gosh well done Nell..8 times now that would be more than torturous!!

      Thanks for getting my humor & for your very welcome comment my friend.. Cheers

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Oh this did make me laugh! lol! the reason? this happened to me on a train! the guy behind me talked so loud that was bad enough, but he phoned about 8 people to tell them he had been promoted at work! In the end I turned round and virtually yelled, well, loudish voice, said, 'will you please shut the hell up? I have heard this conversation 8 @@@dy times! shut up or move!' Haha! the look on his face was a picture! He humbly apologised and put the phone away! He looked like a little boy told of by his mum! lol! so funny! so you can imagine what I would have done to that guy! lol!

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I'm sure you are right about the short in the brain Till.. and appreciate your votes & comment especially that you got my humor:)

      You know I love my cell phone and carry it with me everywhere & can't function without it daily as it's my mini computer but I don't get sharing private info around other people..just don't get it!!

      Take care my friend..cheers

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      I love the ban on cell phones in the hospital and the movies, and yet, people still use them. I think excessive use of cell phones causes a short in the brain that doesn't understand bans and other people's space.

      I truly enjoyed this hub Carter. Well done and just the right touch of humor!

      Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting.

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks so much Bill..yep some sure are oblivious and it can be sooo annoying!! Why can people not get it??

      Take care my friend..cheers

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Phone booths with no phones, what a great idea! lol

      How many times do people look right at you talking and act offended and jerk away when you say, "pardon me?" Actually I love doing that, lol.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi carter. A great take on what has become a very annoying occurrence today with everyone having cell phones. Some people are just oblivious to their surroundings. Great job. Have a great day.

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks Mhatter for dropping by seems my friend you are indeed one of the luckier individuals :)

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I hear you xstatic!! Very tempting isn't it sometimes?? But your right it spoils our enjoyment even further..thanks for your comments..cheers

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this and well done. Life has spared me this nuisance.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Very perceptive and well done. I am tempted to throttle the offender, but it creates such a scene, spoils your lunch and everything.

    • carter06 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks are so right!! We so don't want to hear every sordid detail!! That conversation really did my head in:(.. thanks for your comments..cheers

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      People should really think about these things. Just because we have cell phones available for any use at any time, doesn't mean we want to hear every sordid detail of someone's life.

      The worst for me is in the middle of the grocery store people asking the other person on the phone what they want over the phone and blocking the way.

      Also, I'm starting to feel we need phone booths with no phones so people can gab away and preserve the sanity of the rest of us.

      Great hub!


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