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An Open Letter To People Talking On Their Phones In The Library

I have a fairly stable routine this semester. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have a 9 a.m. class. Since I am coming to campus from my apartment, I wake up around 7 a.m. to make sure I get there on time. I’m not exactly leading the misery competition, but the point is that I don’t want to be up. 

I am a night owl, like your average college student. That means that I am productive at night, and my greatest enemy is that horrible iPhone alarm that sounds like a dog whistle. Most people here take morning classes not because they want to, but because they need to. People are usually considerate to one another during those hours.

I get out of class feeling pretty good about myself but still sleepy. I head over to the library to hit Starbucks for an extra jolt. The next stop is the reading room on the second floor of Pattee with the big, cushy chairs. It’s affectionately known by students as the Harry Potter Room, even though I think the designer was going for something classical. Whatever. I sit down, ready to get some work done, when, like clockwork, someone’s ringer goes off. 

People who leave their ringers on are generally psychopaths. You’re not going to miss an urgent text from your friend because you’ll see it 10 seconds later when you check your phone again. Most of the actual phone calls people get nowadays come from scammers offering to fix their computer in exchange for their Social Security number. 

You, the person loudly answering your phone, have decided to be today’s culprit, so you now have the attention of everyone in the room. Maybe that’s what you wanted. Instead of looking slightly embarrassed, you defiantly pick up the phone and start talking. The entire room is now your audience.

When you’re speaking to a crowd, you need to be either entertaining or informative. It’s hard to do that on TV or with a podcast, even as a trained professional. It’s even harder to appeal to a bunch of people who don’t actually want to listen to you. 

If you’re Al Michaels calling the Super Bowl, great. You have my undivided attention. If you’re mid-rant about some homework a professor assigned you, that is less endearing. I love Al, but I can mute him. I cannot mute you. 

There are a few things I respect about you, though. You speak authoritatively, with a booming voice, as if the whole world needs to hear what you’re saying. When you’re done talking, you hang up and go back to what you were doing as if dozens of people weren’t just shooting daggers in your direction. You’ll be very successful with that mentality.

I hope you do well in whatever class you’re complaining about. If it’s public speaking, you’ve got this!

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About the Author

Adam Babetski

Adam Babetski is a junior majoring in communications. He's from the only part of Virginia without tractors and southern accents. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBabetski for hot takes about sports. For serious inquiries, email [email protected]

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