The post about Cell Phones and Williamsburg got me to think about cell phones. My rule is that cell phones are allowed when/where people can talk to each other, at the same or lower volume they use to talk to each other. So I would classify talking in a cell phone at a restaurant as fine, as long as you aren't shouting. I remember the very recent post about the guy on a bus having an argument with his girlfriend over the cell phone. At first, it seemed very rude. Now, I am wondering why it would have been less rude if they were both on the bus having the argument. What do y'll think?
Rude cell phone story: Maybe 5 years ago, my dad was chatting with a young woman at an office party. A young man at the party did not want to do the normal party thing of joining the conversation. So, he called her cell phone while they were both at the party. My dad is an extremely nice guy, whom everyone loves. If the turd had just walked up, dad would have excused himself.
Also, I actually appreciate the "Turn off the cell phone" reminder at the beginning of the movies. I would forget otherwise.
Okay, my general rule of thumb is similar to yours. If I would have thi conversation @ this level of volume in this place or situation with someone in person,then I will do it on the phone. I will talk on the phone while dining alone or while shopping alone or even while driving, but never if I am out with others (unless it is a quick call for a specific purpose). Also, if I need to address someone else (cashier, salesperson, toll booth operator...) I will either get off the phone completely or put the call on hold and remove the phone/headset from my ear.
anywhere where any talking would need to be so quiet that the person I am on the phone with would have trouble hearing me (the movies, the library...) I will either turn off my phone or leave it on vibrate and excuse myself if I get a call that I need to answer.
BTW... My pharmacy recently put up signs saying that due to new Federal Privacy regulations they will not service customers who are on the phone. I didn't think anything about this until I went through the drive through last night to drop off and then pick up my prescription with 3 other people in my car.
They had no trouble servicing me then, when it would have been a much bigger privacy violation b/c the people in the car are MUCH more likely to hear our conversation than someone on the other end of the phone. If you don't want to deal with rude people talking on the phone while you are trying to help them, then just put up a sign saying you will not service people who are on their phones. Why blame it on Federal Regulations? Besides, the same notice @ the front counter (where you cannot purchase prescriptions, just normal OTC stuff and other purchases like lawn chairs and toys...) kind of gives it away that it's not a privacy issue...