Fight or flight at the library

I’m at the library again, doing my best impression of The Little Engine that Could. My study carrel is in the quiet section that is liberally decorated with these signs:

About an hour ago, a man had a conversation on his phone within spitting distance of one of those signs. Several people glanced around as if to say, “What the hell?” but no one did anything. Including me. I figured we all deserve one free pass and that was his. Well, the dude started up another phone conversation. So I channeled my inner Pete Seeger who once said, “If there’s something wrong, speak up!” (and yes, I do realize that Pete was talking bigger issues than cell phone etiquette.)

I stood quietly by the man’s carrel as he continued to talk. And the longer he talked and refused to acknowledge me standing there, the more uncomfortable I felt. But I stayed put and when he hung up, I held out the sign and politely said something like, “I wanted to remind you about this.” He finally looked at me and his faux surprise at seeing the sign was laughable, but he did say, “Oh, okay.”

And that was it.

I’m taking the time to blog about this because I couldn’t believe how much adrenaline was pumping through my system after that interaction. I felt physically ill because of one polite conversation regarding cell phone usage, and I’d like to figure out why.

At this point, the only thing I know for sure is this:

Pete Seeger quotation





8 thoughts on “Fight or flight at the library

    • Lorraine! So nice to see you here. As for speaking up, I can visualize you doing the same thing without getting filled with adrenaline. Your zen-tude would carry you through. I do thank you, though, for the love.


  1. Ugh, I get the same way in these situations! Usually people either say nothing or get very aggressive (and the latter often escalates the situation as the original offender gets defensive). It takes strength to approach the person calmly but firmly. I always remind myself the person might really not know better–I myself have accidentally gotten on the “quiet car” of the train–and even if they do know better, getting called on it quietly enables them to save face rather than lash out defensively.
    You just know everyone else on that floor wanted to cheer for you!


    • Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone in these feelings, Jenn. I’m happy to say he didn’t use his phone in that area after that and I did notice him leaving a couple times so maybe he went outside to use it.

      It’s funny you said that about everyone wanting to cheer me…I do think they were grateful I spoke up but when I was getting ready to leave hours later, I knocked over my stainless steel water bottle and it made a huge noise. I cringed and looked around and a guy who’d been next to phone guy gave me a big smile. I was instantly forgiven!


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