Ringtone Conundrum .:. kentbrewster.com

Brewster's Ringtone Conundrum: the longer the ringtone, the higher the number of protective layers the user will have to fumble through in a crowded theater before locating the phone.

The guy whose phone emits a single quiet chirp will have it hooked to his belt. The (ahem) non-guy whose phone bleats out Kraftwerk's 1982 rendition of the entire freaking William Tell Overture sixteen freaking times will have it safely ensorceled within its case inside a handbag inside a backpack, underneath a long winter coat ... and will not quite manage to get the thing out before the call goes to voice mail. So the phone will go back into its case, the case will go back into the purse, the purse will go back into the backpack, and the backpack will go back under the long winter coat ... and thirty seconds later, the damn thing will start ringing again.

Later that weekend: this morning the brood and I were in our local coffee shop, enjoying omelets and the world's best blueberry coffeecake. A woman in the party of a dozen seated next to us pulled out her cellphone, put it on speaker, and shared with the entire restaurant about twenty minutes of a small child loudly interacting with Dora the Explorer, in Spanish. Shrieking. Singing. Laughing, dancing, bouncing around the room.

Nobody in her group said a thing, so I am wondering now: is this a cultural phenomenon in other lands that I've somehow missed out on? Is it normal and natural in (say) Peru, to leave your kids in the hotel next door, use the cellphone as a baby monitor, and to expect your fellow diners to talk over it? I'm pretty sure that I'd get lynched if I tried something like that in Paris....

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