So I'm in an airport men's room, relieved at being back on the ground where the restroom is larger than a coffin, when a guy steps up to the next urinal and starts talking.

Now I enjoy a chat as much as the next person, but there were several things wrong with this scenario:

1. I didn't know this guy.
2. I didn't know what the heck he was talking about.
3. We're in the MEN'S ROOM, where I prefer to keep to myself, thank you very much.

Just as I was about to answer -- something along the lines of "Hey, buddy, I'm a little busy here" -- I realize he's not talking to me. On the far side of his head, he's got one of those little "Star Trek" headsets attached to his ear. He's on the phone. Conducting business. In the men's room. Which brings a whole new meaning to the term "hands-free calling."

I had to wonder whether the person on the other end of the call knew this. Wouldn't it be obvious? What about the background noises -- flushes, hand dryers, nose blowers, echoing tiles?
But the biggest question: What was so danged important that Mr. Urinal Phone couldn't wait, oh, 60 seconds to make this call? Was this an emergency? Is his business so precarious that he can't take even a minute for himself? Doesn't he know he's irritating everyone else in the men's room, to the point that we'd like to give him a "swirlie?"

I've grown accustomed to people walking around, apparently talking to themselves. I've learned to tune out all but the most annoying yakkers. But I'm still regularly amazed by the stupid and/or rude stuff people will do in the name of talking on the phone:

--I witnessed a young woman emerge from a curbside parking space and pull a slow U-turn across four lanes of rushing traffic. She had a phone to her ear and seemed truly peeved that the resultant chorus of honking interrupted her conversation.

--Several times lately, I've had to alter my shopping pattern at the supermarket to avoid people carrying on long cell-phone conversations. The callers probably saw this doubling-up as an efficient use of their time, but the rest of us didn't care to hear about Aunt Agatha's goiter while trying to decide between Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs. We're trying to read labels and compare prices, and this chatter doesn't help our concentration. Isn't the Muzak annoying enough?

--As a plane taxied to the gate, a passenger turned on his phone, and we were serenaded by his "ring tone," a 200-decibel rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." My ears are still ringing.

--A woman in a doctor's waiting room entertained the rest of us patients with a lengthy, emotional conversation, complete with tears and ululating. I believe she was talking to an estranged lover, but I'm not certain because the whole conversation was in an unfamiliar language, possibly Urdu.

Where will it end? Will all privacy be surrendered to the forces of technology? Will we all be forced to hear everyone else's conversations all the time? Can't we even hide from it in the BATHROOM?

Tell you what: Next guy I see talking on a cell phone in a men's room is in for a big surprise. I plan to snatch the phone right out of his hand, and toss it into the nearest porcelain receptable.
Will the person on the other end hear the flush?

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