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Old 09-19-2006, 02:32 AM   #7
Jae Onasi
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Let me say first, I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. I hate that they ring at the wrong time. I hate it when I forget to turn the ringer off at an event. I hate when I'm in the middle of an exam and the person hears the phone ring and feels they _must_ answer it. I had a lady one time talk for 5 minutes about pizza while in my office. Crazy. I just about said to her, "I'm sorry, I seem to be interrupting your call. Would you like me to come back later?"
Now, I just say to anyone old enough to carry the things around, "If it rings, do you mind if it goes to voice mail?" People almost always turn the ringers/phones off at that point. Now if it rings, I don't give them the opportunity to answer it, unless they tell me it might be an emergency. I just keep doing whatever it is I'm doing and ignore the phone.
Our church has signs on every door into the sanctuary that says 'please turn ringers off.' For the most part, we do. Every now and then someone forgets and either silences it quickly or makes a rather embarrassed run for the foyer.

Personally, I don't need someone knowing my business 24/7. I'd like to take a shower and go to the bathroom in peace. I'd like to have a meal without the phone interrupting (emergencies excepted, of course). When I'm with someone in my office, I'll take a quick look at the caller ID to make sure it's not a school emergency, and then it goes to voice mail. The phone stays on vibrate (mine's not too obnoxious) so it's less distracting.

However, I've used my phone more than once in emergencies, and so for that reason I'm leery of anything that completely blocks a signal. I've dealt with a couple emergencies in the church sanctuary, and one of those needed EMS. I received an emergency call at my office that my son had passed out (not a good day for us, fortunately everything turned out OK). I drove an hour to/from work for an office at least once a week for awhile, and in Wisconsin where the winters can get nasty, having that peace of mind of instant access to help is good.
I'm also mandated to help in emergencies, even if it's nothing more than calling 911. I can't tell you how many accidents or just plain weird things I've called into 911 (weirdest being a guy on the side of the interstate squatting behind his car with his pants down. I was afraid the idiots who were staring at the guy were going to cause an accident. The conversation with dispatch undoubtedly made their entertainment reels that year).
Since so many places have taken out pay phones and don't offer in house phones for use because so many of us have cell phones, it would make it a lot slower to call 911 (or your country's equivalent) in an emergency. How many of you, off the top of your heads, can think immediately where the phone is at your church, school, theater, grocery store, and so on? How many of you think you could find it in an emergency when the adrenaline has your heart racing?
Needing to call 911 is a hopefully very rare occurence, but when you need them, you need that immediate access. Blocking the signals throughout an entire building could cause problems with timely access to emergency services. I'm willing to live with a few rings in church in order to have access to fire/police/ambulance.

People also work in jobs where they're required to be 'on call' (lots of medical personnel, police, fire, etc.), and jamming their phones would make them inaccessible. Sure, you could argue that they shouldn't go to the places that jam signals. In the case of my church, however, I'd rather not force someone to skip church because of a cell phone signal. I also don't want people to be out of touch in certain situations, like if they have a family member who's critically ill, a spouse who's in the military and whose hours are very irregular so there's not regular time to call, parents who live in one town and work in another and need to be available if the school/daycare or the child has an emergency, those sorts of things.

I'm not comfortable living with signal jamming, but I really like toms' 'switch to silent' idea. People would be able to see the flashing and leave for a spot where they could talk. They'd be accessible without the ringing, and that's the best alternative I've seen suggested yet.


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

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