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I Used My Phone At Dinner Because It Would Be Rude Not To

April 18, 2017

The business dinner included 16 people, half of whom I was meeting for the first time. We were mostly competitors, invited to Sacramento by our common client. It was the first time the client had invited all of us to the same event. This was the dinner the night before our conference. The setup was that awkward two sided table, eight people down one side and eight down the other. You basically could talk to the four or five people right around you.

Overall the dinner went well. The mood was light and congenial. We each told not too embarrassing stories and slowly got to know each other. Jacob worked for the client and he was on call. His phone rang. As he came back to the table, he mentioned,

Agents are reporting an issue with posting notes to a record. Just the travel agents.

As suppliers, we each owned different types of calls from the client. I was one of the bigger suppliers. We had all types of agents, including travel agents.

I pulled out my phone and sent an email to all of my supervisors.

Could you check with our travel agents and see if they are having an issue posting notes. Let me know.


Several other suppliers who had travel agents also pulled out their phones. Some had travel, others were simply checking to see if the problem was wider spread. One of the surprising things was how natural the conversation continued at the table.

We each told stories of getting calls from the client at all times of the night and day. We all had examples of how we simply keep going about our lives during outage phone calls. The only one who really had an issue at dinner was Jacob. As the client, he had to join a conference call. I got email back from my supervisors.

We are seeing this issue, but it’s very low volume, maybe 10 calls today. Please advise

I checked with Jacob. His team was working on it, but it didn’t appear to be high enough volume for us to worry about opening our own call. I replied to my production floor.

Let’s just monitor it for now. No need to escalate. If it gets worse, let me know.

I set my phone down face up next to my plate. As emails came in, I scanned to see if our issue was getting worse. In the mean time, I enjoyed the Mexican food and the conversation. All around the table, people placed their own phones within easy reach.

You know those “detox” camps where people have to give up their cell phones and they end up going through withdrawls? Yeah, I hate those people. I can’t wait for a job where I don’t have to be tied to my phone.

There were knowing nods around the table. This group more than most understood how rude it would be if we refused to use our phones during dinner.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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