21. Talking on the phone in a bus or train or at the table
Carrying on a phone conversation when you’re surrounded by fellow commuters or are sitting at the dinner table with family, friends, or co-workers, is an expression of disrespect for those around you. Sometimes, admittedly, the cellphone rings and it’s something important — that vital business connection you’ve been waiting for; the babysitter informing you that who-knows-what — and you simply have to take the call. Okay, but keep it as short as possible, speak softly, and go someplace quiet if you have to talk for a while.
22. Playing video games or listening to music without headphones
As with yakking on the phone in the midst of others, as on a train or plane or in a restaurant, using any device that makes noise — an iPod, a Game Boy, whatever — in public is an intrusion into other people’s space (and peace and quiet). Use earbuds or headphones. Parents sometimes protest that they have to keep little Johnny amused and he doesn’t like things in his ears. Too bad. Give him a coloring book.
23. Talking in movie theatres
You’re sitting in the dark next to a friend or mate and you’re a little bored by what’s up on the screen, so why not catch up on the latest gossip or chat about weekend plans. Because, again, you’re surrounded by other people and affecting their experience. If you want to natter while you watch, get Netflix and stay home. (Talking on the phone at the movies is just as bad, or worse, and even texting in the dark can bother other people.)
24. Making noise in concert halls
This applies mostly to classical performances or other acoustic entertainment (obviously nobody’s going to notice a little racket if it’s Metallica onstage). Serious musical audiences tend to get caught up in the moment and distractions like unwrapping snacks or repeated coughing break the mood. If you have a coughing or sneezing fit, leave the auditorium until it calms down. (If you’re really sick, of course, you shouldn’t be out in public anyway.) And if you’re new to classical music, be careful not to start applauding unless everyone else is; many compositions are divided into movements and the convention is to applaud at the end of the entire work, not every time the performers fall silent along the way.
25. Grooming yourself in public
Putting on makeup, flossing your teeth, brushing out your hair, and other kinds of personal care may be important to you and also, by extension, to those you come into contact with. But that doesn’t mean that anybody else needs to witness these processes. If you can’t take care of necessary grooming at home, well, that’s what restrooms are for.