SAVANNAH, GA--The sight of someone on a cell phone these days is about as common as seeing people walking in downtown Savannah during the weekday lunch hour.
It's expected. And for many, it's an expected annoyance.
"Hate them," said Frank Cavalieri. "Because people use them whenever they want. You take someone out on a date and you're out to dinner and the woman starts getting on the phone or the guy for that matter is on the phone and all that shows is that they didn't want to spend any time with you."
And this feeling of being disregarded by people on cell phones is why so many businesses have posted signs asking people to turn them off while inside.
It's not the cell phones that are the problem. It's the way we use them. From annoying ring tones going off in inappropriate settings to even more annoying loud conversations, also in inappropriate settings. And the lack of cell phone etiquette is causing many businesses to change the way they do business.
Belford's in Savannah's City Market, is one of many businesses that has been affected by the lack of cell phone etiquette.
"I think it's a real big problem," said Belford's bar manager Donna Israel. "It's terrible when we're really busy. You go over to a table, you got two people on a cell phone and will hold their hand up as, 'don't bother me. I'm on my cell phone right now.' When you're trying to run a business, it does cause a few problems because that puts that server behind having to wait on those people to get off of the phone."
But it's not only bad cell phone behavior from the customers. "We actually have problems with servers using cell phones, text messaging, so we have to ban them from the floor," said Israel.
"Your cell phone comes with instructions of how to set it up and do all that, but it doesn't tell people how to use the cell phone appropriately and politely," said etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey.
Ramsey has been in the etiquette business for 12 years and if there's one issue that makes her shake her head in disbelief, it's cell phones.
"I'm just appalled that people will answer their cell phone in front of other people," said Ramsey. "I'm appalled at people going into meetings, take their cell phone, will have it ring, they might even, there are stories I've heard, I haven't witnessed this, people who actually just answer the cell phone and have the conversation in the meeting or they answer it and they start talking and they do get up and leave the room, but it's like the people that they were with in that meeting are not as important as that phone call."
Ramsey says the "mannerable" thing to do is not to even acknowledge you've received a call until after your meeting or luncheon is over.
"There's really very few things that can't wait until you can excuse yourself politely and go to a private place, check your phone calls and return the calls," said Ramsey.
She says there is no occasions where proper manners are not acceptable.
So whether you are in a restaurant or in a Savannah square, the next time you accept a phone call in public, ask yourself, am I minding my manners?
For more information on social and business etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey, log on to www.mannersthatsell.com.