Since my ride hasn't arrived yet, I continue to rant.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Having a cell phone means you can use it anywhere. It doesn't mean you should. The phone evolved as a device for use in one's primary space, the home. Your home, your space. Cellular technology has brought phones out into the secondary spaces, the places where strangers interact. That does not mean one should act as if in one's primary space. When receiving a phone call, excuse yourself and take it somewhere private. It doesn't matter if you're in a store, on a sidewalk, or in a park. Find a place where you will not disturb others or call the person back once you can. The few exceptions to this are in cases of emergency (help, I'm underneath a truck, can you come get me?) or immediacy (ok, so I'm in the park, where are you? The movie starts in 10 minutes!). In the latter case, it's usually just a brief call. But to just blithely walk around (or worse, stand at someone's counter) having a conversation about everything and nothing?
1. Plan your shopping ahead of time. Write a list. Do not call home and ask the wife what you need to buy.
2. Plan outings accordingly. Get good directions, and verify them with whoever you're going to visit. If you are meeting in a public place, choose a significant, specific, and recognizable landmark at which to meet your party.
3. Your sweetheart does not need to know that the train is running five minutes late. You are just making busywork because you are bored sitting on the train. Get a book. They're free for a predetermined rental period at your local library. If you do not know what a library is, consult google maps for your locality.
4. Write a letter. You do not need to catch every single one of your friends up on every minute detail of your day. I know it's great to be able to think aloud, all day long, nonstop, but don't do it in public. Letter writing encourages economy of communication, because it's more time consuming. You actually have to pick and choose which details are the most important to convey. Alternatively, start a journal. And if you must call someone when out in public, at least compose your thoughts in advance. Don't give your money to cell phone companies just so you can go "ummm... uhhh..." into the ether.
5. Realize that you are not that important. You may feel like the fate of the free world is in your hands, or the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It's not. You do not need to juggle 80,000 things at once. You do have time to just stroll down the sidewalk, soaking up what's around you. You have the time to do one thing at a time.
There are more, I'm sure. The most important, rule 0, is: Remember, people got along just fine before cell phones. Your toddler does not need a phone. Your friends and family do not need to know at all times where you are and what you are doing (that's the gov't's business). Relax. Enjoy life. The phone is a tool. It's a great tool, but still only a tool. Use as necessary and then hang up. Let go.