Can you hear me now?

You used to see them in airports, parking lots and street corners. The phone booth is a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, it is getting downright difficult to find a public phone these days. Actually, the pay phone has evolved from inside booths, to hanging on the wall, and now has found its way into our pockets. Today’s “pay” phones come with cool features like cameras, music players and expensive monthly “calling plans”…and do we pay!
The proliferation of mobile phones into our society today has made the traditional pay phone go the way of vinyl readers and VHS. But make no mistake; we still pay for these phones. Just ask anyone with a teen in the household.
The good thing about mobile phones is that they work everywhere (at least that is what the TV commercials boast). The problem with mobile phones is that they work everywhere…including restaurants, airplanes, churches, libraries, lobbies and any other public places. People take and make calls in places and at times most inappropriate. Somehow, the person on the other end of the phone is more important than anyone nearby. People respond to their disruptive polyphonic ring tones, taking calls at inopportune times and places such as during meetings, in the middle of conversations, in quiet public places and in very close proximity to strangers.
Disturbing also, is the volume in which people speak on the mobile phone. Something about speaking into a small electronic device and the physical distance to the person on the other end cause people to speak much louder than they normally would. People can be sitting in a restaurant speaking with an individual at their table quietly as to not interfere with others (or to not be heard by others). Once the mobile phone is in use, that all flies out the window and everyone in the entire restaurant is privy to the entire vociferous confab. Airplanes are just as bad; I really don’t care that the guy in seat 21C just landed and will be home in about an hour (well, unless I am in seat 21C).
Of most concern is the trend that people seem to speak louder the smaller the phone. As if the small device needs extra help to shoot the words all the way to the far away person on the other end. Now that Apple is in the phone business we could be in trouble. If the Apple phones shrink like the iPod we are in for some noisy times. I think it is time to bring back phone booths. Besides, Superman needs a place to change.