It’s good to talk - do it in person

I want to meet the Sainsbury’s staff member who refused to serve a woman who was talking on her mobile. If I had been behind the woman on the phone I would have walked right up and shook the hand of the staff member who decided - ‘you know what, have some manners.’

In my mind, the only reason you can’t hang up your phone when you’re about to be served by another human being is maybe if you’re Barack Obama and you’re in the middle of international peace talks. No other excuse is acceptable. If Barack is in buying spuds for the dinner and somebody rings him about the ousting of an Egyptian president, that’s allowed.

But to not be able to remove an electronic device from the side of your head to engage with another human being for all of one minute, is really just anti social and frankly, a bit rude.

Inappropriate mobile phone use is rife these days. The other day, approaching Fountain Hill from Strabane Old Road, I saw a woman driving a car with a child in the passenger street. She navigated the roundabout and proceeded onto one of the steepest hills in the city, with a phone stuck to her ear. Clearly, this woman’s offence was much worse than the Sainsbury’s customer. She was risking the life of everyone in that car by not being able to postpone her chinwag to a later date and of course, she was breaking the law.

Both the examples, however, expose a bigger truth about how about 95 per cent of mobile phone usage is absolutely unnecessary.

Don’t even get me started about the types who use speaker phone and hold their handset as if they’re in an episode of the Apprentice. That’s a whole other column.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been on the bus to Belfast and heard passengers give about 15 updates on their location between the Glenshane Pass and the Altnagelvin bus stop. Unless there’s a major delay - which their rarely is on this service, these calls serve no real purpose. How did anybody get on a bus from one station to another and actually arrive at their chosen destination before the invention of the mobile. How did anybody ever get picked up that station. Let’s face it, if it was that big a problem, there would probably still be weary travellers hanging around the Foyle Street depot having gotten off a bus in 1995.

Because we are constantly preoccupied with ultimately meaningless nattering we are letting the art of actual, face to face, conversation die out. As for that Sainsbury’s worker, was she really asking for too much by not wanting to be treated like a self service till? Definitely not.

The phrase may have been a marketing slogan for the biggest phone network in the UK, and I’m aware of the irony here, but, it’s good to talk.