My wife and I went out for pizza at our favorite place a couple of nights ago. Halfway through the meal, I heard what sounded like audio from a cell phone, as if when we got out of the car, the music had kept playing despite being disconnected from the Bluetooth.
I checked mine: nope. She checked hers: nope. So I looked around and, at the table behind me, saw a mother and her two young sons, each of them enjoying a slice of pizza — but the younger one was watching some video on his phone without headphones, forcing the rest of us to listen along to whatever he was enjoying whether we liked it or not. He wasn’t hiding it from his mother, who was obviously aware of what was going on, but didn’t care about whether it might bother other customers.
Perhaps she would justify her inaction because it kept her son quiet and in his seat, but if we’re going to share a somewhat civilized world, it’s incumbent upon parents to teach their kids how to behave in public. That includes forcing them to withdraw their attention from an electronic device and become aware of the world around them, their impact upon it, and its effect on them.
I could have spoken up, berated the woman, and risked looking like an insensitive jerk, or I could have tried to ignore it for a few more minutes while we finished our pizza and got out of there. There was a time I would have chosen the former, but I was not in the mood to lecture yet another human being about how she and her family should act in proximity to other humans, so I chose the latter.
Unfortunately, I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity when her kid won’t stop texting during a movie, or blocking my view while shooting video of a concert on a phone directly in my field of vision, or checking out a full shopping cart in the 20-items-or-less line, or talking too loudly during an entire flight while in the row behind me, or smoking a cigarette directly in front of a busy doorway, or a myriad of other annoying acts.
In retrospect, I should have pulled out my phone and recorded the scene for a minute or so and then played it back with my volume turned all the way up and the screen pointed towards her. But I have a feeling Mommy Don’t-Care wouldn’t have understood my subtle message.