The Cell Phone Game
While I was in Houston with Mike & Sara, they constantly joked with me about how my cell phone is always buzzing, ringing or making some sort of noise.Then, every time I’d look at it I’d hear “look at Bobby Laurie, he’s addicted to that thing.” Well, that’s partially true. I’m addicted to it when I have it, but when I don’t have it on me, I don’t even think about it.
That mentality passengers need to adopt. On a recent flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles I had a first class guest who boarded texting on one phone and talking to someone on another. Once he sat in his seat he whipped out his two iPads and began sending messages.
After we closed the boarding door, I made my announcement in which I ask all passengers to turn off their electronic devices. Suddenly, Mr. Gadget began twitching. He knew I was going to walk past him and ask that he turn off his electronics, but he didn’t want to. As I walked through the cabin preforming my checks, I leaned over and politely said, “I’m sorry to have to do this, but I do need to ask that you please power down all of your electronic devices.” He looked at me and simply said, “Okay,” but continued to type.
I walked through the rest of the aircraft giving him sometime to comply before I came back and asked again, and when I returned, I said: “one more reminder Sir, I need all electronics off, please.” He finally packed them all up, sat up straight in his seat and crossed his legs.
Once I sat in my jumpseat, I noticed that he had taken his phone out again and began to text. I locked eyes with me and just mouthed “no more phone.” He put it away. Then, I noticed the first signs of withdrawals. His leg began to shake and his foot rotate in circles. He was looking at me and out the window, back and forth and back and forth as if to say “hurry up and take off already” with his eyes. On the take-off roll he began to scratch his head, shake his foot and put his head in his hand. He kept repeating the same motions over and over..until the portable electronic device light went off, and he could re-connect to the world.
It was kind of amusing to watch. I’ve never seen someone who was so addicted to connectivity, but wondered if what I witnessed was what Sara & Mike thought I was doing. I can honestly say, I’m not that addicted.
Also amusing is the idea that passengers think that flight attendants can’t tell if their phones are off. I love walking past someone, asking them to turn it off, and watch them put the phone in standby mode. When I question them, and say, “I’m so sorry, standby mode won’t work, please turn it off” and they get all defensive “it IS off” I just answer by saying, “Actually, I had that same phone for a year.. and I know how to turn it off and put it in standby mode..you need to hold down the red button, not hit the mute button.” Then they just look at you and snarl. Or, my other favorite.. when I walk through the cabin and you see someone looking down texting, and just as you approach their row they quickly hit the standby button and flip the phone upside down in their lap like you didn’t just see the circus trick they pulled. I think for passengers they like playing the game. You know you’re not supposed to use it, so why do you? Can you really not put it down for a few hours? I usually walk past their row, by one row until they think I’m gone.. and then make a U-Turn and say, “can you please power that off? Thanks!” I catch them off guard but hey — I know how to play this game too.
Some flight attendants get very upset and agitated when passengers don’t turn off their phones.. and some, like myself, remind you a few times.. but short of ripping them out of your hand and putting them in a cup of coffee (like that old TV commercial), what more can we do? I’m not going to stand there and embarass you in front of everyone waiting for you to turn off your phone.. but, if you try to insult my intelligence by hiding your phone or putting it in standby when I can still see the “new message” light blinking.. well then, I’ll play along.