Cell phone Use in Public Restrooms

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about cell phone law:

Please tell me there a law in somewhere in California regarding banning cellphone use in public restrooms? I personally feel that it is extremely rude when someone is carrying a conversation on their cell phone in the restroom. I feel it is rude to the other person on the phone and extremely rude to anyone else who has to use the restroom. Do people not have manners/a sense of decency anymore? I feel that it is infringing on another person’s privacy and completely inconsiderate!

Signed, Tired of the Talk

Dear Tired of the Talk:

There are no laws about cell phone use in public restrooms, and probably won’t be. The logic for that is that one could carry on a conversation with someone else in a bathroom if that person were present–so why not be able to do so with that person 50 miles away but on the phone? At least this way there is only one side to listen to. (If you’re like me, that is even more irritating. And people on cell phones talk louder than they would to someone right next to them.)

However, I agree with you that the incessant talking on the phone has become truly offensive and ridiculous. I especially dislike those who use Bluetooth earpieces so I can’t tell they are having a phone conversation. When they look right at me and talk, I think they expect an answer from me! I have responded to dozens of people who, when they realize I’m talking to them, frown at me and say, “I’m on the phone.”

I don’t know of a solution, apart from actions that become equally rude. Unfortunately I have acquaintances (not necessarily friends) who are masters at such rudeness. For example, I have a friend who, when in the presence of someone who is talking loudly on the phone, goes to the tools section of his phone and goes to the ring options, then listens to all the loud ring options repeatedly, back and forth, back and forth. On several occasions he’s been told to turn the noise down. He always says, “You turn YOUR noise down.”

That usually leads to unhappy results!I know of a guy who has a noise-making device (I’ll leave the noise to your imagination.) When he’s in a public restroom and someone irritates him for any reason, or just when he wants privacy, he makes the maximum amount of noise. Very soon there is no-one left but him.I have another acquaintance who pretends to be talking on the phone to someone else, and listening to shocking news.

So, if someone is talking on the phone near her and being too loud for too long, she will pretend to make a phone call, say hello, then say, “What? Calm down and tell me that again. She came home and CAUGHT THEM TOGETHER??? Oh my gosh, what did she do? You’re kidding me! I didn’t even know she OWNED a machete! She cut off WHAT???”

It goes on that way for some time. She finds it an enjoyable way to block out the other person. And, in her defense, she doesn’t do it if there is a third person present who has to listen to both conversations.Those are not solutions to the problem and create problems of their own. But I think people get so frustrated they want to lash out in revenge. Here is the sadly funny thing: There are two issues which I mention to almost every audience to which I speak–cellphone use and inappropriate use of email. I always ask for a show of hands of how many people find the loud use of cellphones in public places to be offensive. EVERYONE raises their hands! I ask for a show of hands of how many people wish others wouldn’t send forwarded or foolish emails, and once again everyone raises their hands.This shows me that 1. People can find excuses for their own actions when they would condemn those actions by others. Or, 2. The people who attend my training are saints and all the jerks chose not to be there. I’m hoping that one day this current bad habit will lessen. As it is, I go down different aisles, leave rooms, or ask to sit in a different location, when I am disturbed by anything that is unreasonable.Best wishes to you!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.