Was this rude or not?

I was walkkng down the street talking to my friend on the cellphone when a older woman interrupted me and asked for directions. I obliged, politley, but was inwardly annoyed because I was clearly on the phone and engaged with someone else (I was not wearing a bluetooth). But should I have been? I don’t think i would have been annoyed if I was walking with a friend chatting and someone asked me for directions, but being on the cellphone seemed rude to me.

I suppose it depends on context - I wouldn’t think it rude if the woman was obviously stressed out or couldn’t find anyone to help her. Was it a particularly urgent call or was it something that could be handled later?

I think you’re being far too sensitive. And why do you think you’re entitled to any more privacy, by virtue of being on the phone, then being with someone else in person?

I think it was rude. It is a social courtesy to be willing to give directions. People should be respectful of the fact that you may be busy and not particularly inclined to help with directions. The woman got herself lost and should be respectful if she wants help to get found.

I think if posers and showoffs hadn’t ruined it for cell phone users, people would be more respectful of someone using a cell phone. But I think cell phone users themselves have been so incredibly rude by taking what turned out to be senseless calls and text messages, and making unnecessary impromptu calls (my wife is the worst), people would have more sensitivity to the fact that you were “on the phone.” And I disagree with **Red ** – when I’m talking on the telephone, I’m busy, leave me alone. If I’m sitting at my desk talking on the phone, people may wait patiently until the conversation is over. Otherwise, there’s a whole reportoire of body language, throat-clearings, etc., that help communicate the urgency (or lack thereof) of the interruption in relation to the importance of the phone call, etc. All of this is missing when it comes to cell phones, and I think rude cell phone users are to blame.

As described, I don’t think it was rude for the woman to ask for directions while you were on the phone. I’m assuming that she said “excuse me” or something like that in a nice manner and didn’t just barge up to you, shake her fist, and demand you put down the phone.

I think it depends on your body language regarding the phone call. If you were casually chatting on the phone like you might have been chatting with a companion in person (“Hey, did you watch Family Guy?”) and if she said excuse me, I don’t think she was rude. If you were leaned up against a building facing away from passerby, apparently closing the deal of the century or instructing someone on how to deliver a baby, it would have been rude to interrupt you for something less than an emergency. In an intermediate situation, say, getting directions to your destination, I think you could respond to her excuse me with “I’ll be on this call just a few more minutes.”

My thought is that for one thing, when I’m on the phone, I’m paying for it. I know that most people have either unlimited plans, or plans with more minutes than any human could use, but still. Also, when you interrupt two people walking down the street to ask one of them a question, they can both see and hear you and you’re basically getting both of their permissions to do so. When someone is on the phone, I have no idea if the person on the other end of that conversation is having an emergency, or paying through the nose to call from Malawi, or what.

Those are all rationalizations, though. Mostly it’s just ruder because…well, because. :slight_smile:

It’s not rude to ask for directions. You could have told her you were busy. If she then got offended, she’s wrong. If you gave her directions, you can’t fault anyone but yourself- you just gave her permission to interrupt you.

I think she was a bit rude. If the call was important and your signal coverage patchy her interruption could have caused you to miss something important. Also, you might have only had a short time to complete the call, or the person you were calling might have been someone who wouldn’t take kindly to such an interruption. It’s not a huge deal but it was a bit thoughtless of her. She should have asked someone who wasn’t on the phone, IMO.

My observation skills are not the best, and sometimes I find myself obliviously talking to someone while they’re on their cell phone. Especially when I’m lost and in need of help.

I know you have to pay for minutes, but I really don’t see it as any more rude than interrupting someone who’s talking to another person face-to-face. As long as that person says “excuse me” and waits for acknowledgement, of course. A cell phone user wouldn’t be my first choice for assistance, but if they’re the only person around? Or if everyone around me is talking on a cell phone (as is frustatingly common on college campuses)? Yes, I would interrupt them. Being on a phone does not take you out of the world.

I think that sounds quite sensible. As monstro said, when we are out in public, talking on our cell doesn’t instantly move us into our own little private bubble. Its better to make important calls in private, but if it just can’t wait, then a 2 second interruption to say “Sorry, important call” probably isn’t going to make the deal fall through.

I appreciate all the thoughts. I can clarify a bit, however, the woman did say excuse me, but then went right into her question without even giving me a chance to let my friend know I needed a second. I didn’t think it was a huge deal, just wondering what others thought.

Not rude at all, assuming she first said, “Excuse me, could you help me?” My response would have been, “Let me call you back. There’s a young lady here who needs my assistance.” Then, I would turn to the woman with a smile to put her at ease and say: “How can I help you?”

Scenarios presented by George Kaplin above can be handled by saying, “I’ll be with you in a moment.” If a phone call is of a highly personal or sensitive nature, it should not be conducted in public where one might be interrupted by, say, a policeman, a panhandler, or a lost “older [?] woman.”

Bottom line… a human being in your immediate vicinity was in need.

I think that’s the key right there as to why you felt it was rude. I don’t have a problem being interupted on the phone, if I’m asked politely and allowed to answer and, of course, if it’s an emergency, allow me to say so, and go ask someone else. If it’s not, I’ll gladly give directions.

I’d feel similarly miffed, if I were walking down the street and someone did the same thing.

I would say no, you should not have been.

And then, after you were out of earshot, I would turn to the person next to me, bemoan the fact that now the people who are walking around on cell phones are complaining that other people are being rude to them, and take the Lord’s name in vain.

I think it’s mildly rude. It gets more rude if there were other people she could have asked directions from and less rude if you were the only one.

I was also going to ask if there was anyone else around. if you were the pnly one around, and I was genuinely lost/confused, I’d interrupt your call, but I certainly would apologize. “Excuse me, I’m so sorry, but I’m lost and need help, can you help?”

Are you suggesting that I was being rude for talking on my cellphone?

It’s not overtly rude, especially if the person is older and may not have a handle on newer-tech etiquette, like what’s not proper when someone’s on a cellphone. I say the same as a couple of others: If you couldn’t answer, just shake your head no and move on. If you stop to answer, your wasted minutes are on your head, not hers.