Imagine, after an extraneous few hours of classes, retiring to one of Rush Rhees’ more luxuriantly furnished reading rooms for a refreshing respite. Then, just before the first droplet of drool edging from the corner of your mouth has come tantalizingly close to falling upon the page of your favorite textbook, you are rudely awakened with a start and an embarrassing splash of saliva to the electronic tinkle of “Wanksta.”

Sound all too familiar? I am sure it does to you as much as it does for this writer. The customized ring of the cell phone is the bane of sleepy-eyed, hungover college students everywhere, whether they be napping in class, the library, or in one of our fancier dining establishments.

To retell their insidious creep into every facet of living would be the redundant and clichd carp of the hack writer. Yet, their entering into the background buzz of our daily lives ought not go by without some questions as to how they should be used.

The omnipresence of the cell phone may be something many of you take for granted. Some of you might even argue that cell phones have been the single greatest enhancement to your social life-unrivaled by anything save AIM and wireless internet.

What of it, then?

What of some basic rules and regulations of etiquette, some agreed upon standards in society that will fully justify the shouting down, shaming, and ultimate banishment of offenders to long-lived pariahhood?

Legislatures have already taken swift action when its come to driving and using a cell phone, and other points of decorum are quite obvious, such as shutting off your phone in class.

Other points of proper public cell phone behavior are, from anecdotal evidence, to be judged less obvious by many of us.

Cell phone use ought to be discontinued while at urinals and in toilet stalls. Why not? If the cell phone user can not find any personal modesty to prohibit him or herself, then for no other reason than to respect the rights of others to make sounds unique to a restroom without broadcasting them to foreign parties.

Also, while cell phone users should be applauded in any and all efforts to sequester themselves in some kind of privacy while talking, they should not make themselves so inconspicuous as to disconcert passersby.

This way, unhappy happenstances such as believing a shrubbery is talking to you can be avoided. Small headsets, too, while perhaps being of the greatest convenience to the user, often give the first impression that the person is babbling to themselves.

Common courtesies such as these are always something readily agreed upon publicly, but apparently violated in the privacy of anonymity. Far be it for me to recommend something as stringent as ticketing for violation of these new rules of cell phone etiquette, but next time you observe any irksome behavior or infraction, do as I will be doing – staring impolitely.

Ellis can be reached at

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