I love the movies! I enjoy movies at home, but I find a good movie playing out on the big screen irresistible. Until the last few years I was occasionally annoyed by a talker, crying child, or a seat back kicker. That is until cell phones and texting became the norm for nearly everyone. Now, nearly every movie I see includes at least one occasion of a text addict with something so important to say or know that it cannot wait. Suddenly a smart phone and its annoying beacon appear like a lighthouse in the middle of a dark room. Yesterday was the epitome of my in theater cell phone experiences.
I immediately knew it was an unusual matinee when cell phone screens continuously popped up in different areas of the theater. It looked like fireflies in mating season as the users sent and read text messages. A person directly in front of me used his phone several times, but the screen was so dim I hardly noticed. However, two empty seats to my right a man in a baseball cap used his phone every few minutes. When he did he held it inches from his nose to read and type, which he did so slowly that the key taps looked like a woodpecker in super slow motion. The screen was bright to the point of being unbelievably distracting.
I endured several instances of this behavior until the cost of admission and my enjoyment of the movie collided with my patience. I leaned over and in a relatively low voice told him that his phone was very distracting and asked him to stop using it. He seemed to ignore me so I raised my voice a bit, increased the sternness of my tone, and asked again. Finally he acknowledged me and put the phone away for the duration of the movie.
The others in the theater must have heard me, but obviously thought my displeasure did not apply to them because they continued to use their phones.
When the credits began to roll the man I had spoken to jumped up and left the theater. I suppose he wanted to avoid me, but I too was happy to not have to deal with him in the light of day.
Leaving the theater I was nearly through the lobby doors when I heard a man call to me. “Sir,” he said as he crossed the ten feet that separated us. Surprised, I stopped. He immediately shook my hand. “Thank you for asking that guy to put away his phone. It was so distracting that I had to shield my eyes with my hand and I did not have the nerve to say anything.”
The grateful stranger made my day. He reminded me that I am not alone in my belief that cell phones have no place in the movie theater. If your message to the outside world cannot wait go to the lobby and focus on your communication. Please do not ruin the movies for the rest of us. It is your right to pay for your ticket and waste it. However, you do not have the right to waste mine.
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