Are you troubled by people who blather away on their cell phones in public?
I propose a new medical condition, which I’m calling Cell Phone Echolalia. Cell phone echolalia causes the sufferer to repeat everything a person who is talking on a cell phone in public says, at first in a whisper, but escalating in volume until it becomes a shout.
This is how it plays out:
“I’m on the train,” the person in the seat beside me says.
“I’m on the train,” I echo quietly.
“I’ll be home at around six.”
“I’ll be home at around six,” I echo in normal speaking tones.
“Should I stop for take-out on the way home?”
“Should I stop for take-out on the way home,” I say loudly.
“I don’t know. Moo shoo?”
“I don’t know,” I shout at the top of my lungs. “Moo shoo?”
At which point, the cell phoner will interrupt his phone conversation to demand, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
When confronted by the cell phoner, you say, “I am terribly sorry, but I suffer not only from having to listen to your insipid blather, but from a dire and incurable mental condition known as cell phone echolalia. As long as you are within hearing distance of me and continue to yammer away on your cell, I have no choice but to repeat whatever you say, however boring and banal.
They may continue to protest. Your response?
“I’m not sure why you’re affronted — clearly you think that every word you speak is a pearl of wisdom that everyone around you should be delighted to share. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be incredibly rude for you to inflict your inane chatter on the rest of us?”
Will this cause the cell phoner to come to their senses, apologize for being a source of annoying noise pollution, and put their phone away? If only. These folks are far too addicted to the sound of their own voices to ever behave this sensibly.
However, given that there is no cure for CPE, you leave them with just one option, which is to move, until they’re so far away you can no longer hear them.
Problem solved! (You’re welcome.)