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Cell Phone Etiquette: Talking in Parked Cars. Okay or Not?

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By Melanie Yunk | October 12, 2015

Recently, I monitored a conversation about cell phone etiquette in a private online group. Cell phone etiquette is one of my favorite topics, and I wrote about it for If you’re interested, read Mobile Phones at the Dinner Table. Acceptable or Etiquette Nightmare? Anyway, a group member asked a question about the etiquette of someone using their phone while parked in their car. At the time of this writing, the thread includes more than 50 replies.

Evidently, the person posting arrived at a gym’s parking lot and spotted someone in a car talking on the phone. The driver waited for the parked car to exit, but the person did not end the call and did not signal to the driver to move on.

The driver believes staying in a parked car to make a call when others need spaces at a busy gym is rude. In the driver’s opinion, the parked person should have moved the car out of the lot and parked elsewhere to take the call, to open the space for arriving gym members.

The majority of the responders clearly stated they did not believe the person in the parked car was out of line. As a paying gym member with a need to use the phone, many thought the parked caller should’ve remained in the car instead of trying to drive and talk. Others pointed out that if the caller had stayed in the gym, people might have been inconvenienced. Also, the driver never would have known this person was taking up a space for a phone call by staying inside – so why worry?

Only a handful of responses agreed with the driver that the action was rude.

My response to this comment is this… As a consultant with multiple clients and vendors, I must always be available to take calls. Sometimes, my only option for a quiet place to use the phone is in my car. When necessary, I’ll take a call while driving using my hands-free option. However, my preference is to focus on the call and remain in my car while parked. This option is safer for other people on the road and me, and my call isn’t disrupted by road noise… or my occasional outrage at bad drivers. Just kidding. Sort of.

Certainly, I try to pay attention and wave people on if they’re waiting for my spot. However, I may not notice when deep in conversation. I’m not trying to be rude. In fact, my aim is to stay safe and limit my cell phone use while driving.

I believe the parked caller was okay. Cell phone etiquette wasn’t violated, and the space was the caller’s to use as long as necessary.

What’s your opinion? Poor cell phone etiquette or not?

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