Etiquette For Cell-Phone Users

Cell phones, which used to be an international symbol of status, are now so common we can't help but overhear perfect strangers. It's not that we're so nosy, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger, it's that they're so noisy.

Danny Meyer, owner of the trendy Union Square Cafe in New York, is trying to start a new trend. He's asked customers not to make phone calls at the table.

"I think cell phones are in some ways addictive," says Meyer. "I think the fact that people can talk means they do talk. But that doesn't mean they should talk. Can there be a sacred haven or two out there left where we don't have to be inputting and outputting information?"

Meyer's idea is catching on. At one London restaurant, patrons are required to hand over their cell phones at the door. Meyer would rather rely on tact, which he feels should be taught.

"This technology has increased so quickly that nobody was ever taught the etiquette," Meyer says.

Peggy Post, a distant relative of Emily Post, the etiquette expert, concurs. Peggy, who is carrying on the family tradition, believes cell phones pose a new problem with an old solution.

"Just use common sense," she advises. "Avoid talking on the phone in a movie theater or at a religious service, or at a restaurant table or at a meeting."

With 75 million cell phones in use, this country could use a lot of common sense. One community is trying to put some teeth into the fight against big mouths.

"If you're gabbing, get off the road, park on the side and carry on your conversation."

That's not a suggestion, it's the law in Brooklyn, Ohio. The town that had the first seatbelt law, now has a penalty for driving while gabbing: a fine of up to $145.

Mayor John Coyne's gotten a lot of compliments on the new law including one phoned in from a car; a local resident was violating the law even though he was complimenting it.

"Yeah, it's just a bad habit," observes Coyne. "That's why he said 'Oh,' and hung up.

New rules are tough to get used to. Progress can breed problems as quickly as a convenience becomes an annoyance.