Store clerks say 'hang up the phone'
Customers consistently ignore this sign at a store in Atlanta and clerks are reluctant to enforce it.
October 5th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

Store clerks say 'hang up the phone'

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN

Editor's note: This story is part of the CNN series, "Our Mobile Society," about how smartphones and tablets have changed the way we live. Listen to the complete story in the audio player above.

(CNN) – Have you ever wondered what the clerk behind the register really thinks when you talk on your cell phone while trying to pay?

[:23] “I've had someone holding up the line because I kept trying to tell them what to do on the credit card prompt machine and they kept canceling their transaction. and we do it 3 times and the line keeps getting longer,” says Ya’Al who works at a pharmacy in Atlanta.

She says when people prefer to talk on the phone rather than interact with her, it makes her feel ignored as a person.

She’s tempted to say something, but customer service always trumps her feelings.

Her co-worker Cheryl Lesner has found a way to deal with cell phone talkers.

[2:14] “I feel I can't be rude to people . I have talked really loud to people so they have no choice but to pay attention to me, but that's as far as I usually go.”

People are not able to be in two places at once and that’s essential what they’re doing says Scott Campbell, a communications professor at the University of Michigan who studies cell phone use.

[1:03] “When we're on the cell phone we might be occupying one physical space, but we are actually occupying two social spaces. So we're juggling those 2 social spaces and we become consumed by one of those spaces and when you're on the phone that's where the attention gets directed.”

And we ignore the people right in front of us.

It’s a phenomenon sociologists have coined “absent presence” and it’s expected to grow as our mobile devices beckon us to be available to our social network any time, anywhere.

Listen to the complete story above and join the conversation below.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Customer

    Hello Store Clerk, I would like you to hang up the phone too. I am standing here with my money in hand while you answer the phone. They need to be put on hold until ALL customers in the store are taken care of appropriately.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SomeNameHere

    I am so sick and tired of all of the obsessed phone phreaks. When someone is talking to you, put the phone away immediately. No phones at the dinner table, while driving, or otherwise interacting in the real world. Stop it with the selfishness.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ThatTexasGuy

    People don't realize that you're not just inconveniencing the others in line behind you. Many stores keep track of the time-per-customer for their clerks, and taking a long time makes them look bad. Your rudeness actually impacts the clerks pay raises, so don't be surprised if it makes them grumpy.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. krggles

    I worked as a clerk in a drugstore for 5 years and I can tell you I had my share of idiots who wouldn't hang it up so I can \get them through the line. I heard conversations that I never should have heard and I felt totally ignored. It got so bad I quit a month ago and will never work as a clerk again. I understand your point clearly. Boos to the idiots.

    October 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |