What Father’s Do

There is a man talking far too loudly on his cellphone and none of us are interested in listening to his conversation. He is ignoring the three kids at the table and his wife. guffawing loudly about jokes we can’t hear and gesturing for effect.

My family looks at me and my daughter asks why he is so rude. I make eye contact with the woman but she ignores me, doesn’t pretend to be uncomfortable. It is more important to her to let her boorish pal brag.

The waiter refuses to say anything, he is afraid because the man looks to be like some kind of hothead. I raise my voice and say “I am not interested in your conversation,” but it is a half hearted effort. My voice carries effortlessly but the question of whether this is the kind  of effort I want to apply it to weighs upon me.

I check him out and see I am bigger than he is. Am clearly taller and outweigh him, probably have plenty of muscle to rip the phone of out of his hands and force it down his throat. Let’s see how he feels when someone doesn’t care what he thinks, but I don’t.

My son wants to know if I am going to say something  because he heard grandpa make a comment about how obnoxious this guy is. I shake my head and say he is not worth it.

But the truth is that I won’t because my family is there and I think this man will want to make a big deal, it will escalate and I don’t want my kids to see that. I have no fear of this man and I know it, but my job as dad is to protect my family.

I won’t let them see the ugliness that I am sure will come. They don’t need to be exposed and there is a teaching moment here about picking and choosing battles.

He sees me glaring and glares back at me, still talking.

I stand up but don’t move other than to adjust my shorts. It is part of the silly game men play, I want him to get a good look at me and understand if necessary I will place him in the trunk of his car.

The manager is nowhere to be seen. I sit down and think this will make at least 5 different blog posts. It makes me smile, Jack isn’t just a dad, he is a writer who doesn’t know why he is talking about himself in the third person.

A photo of the jerk is taken and uploaded to Twitter. They leave and their absence is palpable, it is quiet. The meal is finished and my kids are smiling.

Mission accomplished.

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12 Comments

  1. Joe October 29, 2012 at 8:03 am

    There should be a law silencing cell phones in restaurants and other public places. End of story. Old-school.

    • Jack October 29, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Hi Joe,

      I think about it sometimes. It is not like I never make calls in public, but I am conscious about where I am and how loud I am speaking.

      No one needs to be a part of that other than myself and the person on the other line.

  2. Tim Bonner October 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

    My wife used to phone me at work sometimes and because it was an open plan office I used to hate having a conversation!

    Then she’d phone me on the bus home and it would be packed. Another place I don’t like speaking on the phone, public transport.

    You were the bigger man in how you handled the situation in the restaurant. Things could have turned ugly and that’s never a good thing when you’re family are around!

    • Jack October 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Hi Tim,

      When I worked in an office like that I made a point to take all of my calls outside because I didn’t want everyone involved in the discussion. I imagine public transport is awkward too.

      Things would have turned ugly with this man and it wasn’t worth the trouble.

  3. Jens P. Berget October 29, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I was waiting for a more “violent” ending, but this one was great as well 🙂

    I’m not a loud talker at all. I never answer the phone in public. I just phone back whenever I’m ready. I want my phone calls to be as private as possible. And especially when I’m around my family.

    • Jack October 29, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Hi Jens,

      If I were Jack Reacher that guy might have had an attitude adjustment. 😉 Is it common in Norway for people to take their calls in public?

  4. Kallay October 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Ugh… loud cellphone talkers. Yuck. I always feel so self conscious if I have to speak on my phone in public. So, I don’t understand the appeal to talk loudly about private matters in a public place for the sole purpose of disrupting others and gaining attention for yourself, especially when the attention is not great.

    • Jack October 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Hi Kallay,

      I am the same way. I try not to have any conversations in places where people have to listen to my conversation.

      I don’t want that kind of attention nor do I think anyone cares.

  5. a.eye October 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Love this story and that you didn’t confront him and make it a bigger deal. Sometimes just showing yourself can cause some one to chill. Glad it worked in this case.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kenya G. Johnson October 28, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I loved this post Jack, very entertaining and very well written. I tell you that is one of my biggest pet peeves. My phone calls are private. I don’t chit chat on the phone in public. If I am calling anyone for anything its something like, “Can you look in the cabinets and see if we have anymore popcorn.”

    • Jack October 28, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Hi Kenya,

      I try do the same as you. I am not interested in listening to other people speak and I don’t expect them to listen to my conversations either. It is just not necessary.

      This gentleman was so obnoxious yesterday, yelling in his phone- showed a complete disregard for everyone else.

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