Rude Interruptions when I’m on my Smartphone

I’ve noticed an increase in people talking to me while I’m busy with my phone. These days, nothing seems to say “strike up a conversation” like a person engrossed in something more important.

Top offending questions:

Is that your child wandering around over there?

Yes, that’s my son. I don’t need reminding, but thank you very much. And yes, it does appear to be smoking a cigarette. It must have bummed that off someone. I don’t keep tobacco products in the house.

Do you need a bag?

Other versions/same annoyance:

Cash or credit?
Do you need a receipt?
How many people in your party?

For God’s sake, figure it out. I thought you were a professional. You’ve seen millions of people just like me walk through your doors. Do you really need to go through every question on your script?

Can I ask you something?

This question should be handled with sensitivity. The person asking, usually a family member, is trying to get a leg up by feigning a respectful approach. The answer to the question is “No” but the interesting part is how to respond without looking like a jerk.

Two options — pretend like you didn’t hear them and hope they lose interest; or pivot your facial expression to suggest you are being tolerant of their question, then say something like, “Actually, I’m looking up directions for an important meeting on Wednesday. Can we talk in 45 minutes?”

Occasional follow-up (from wife):

Are you working on your Facebook?

This is a punch to your gut — and you both know it. Hit back with a slightly aggressive, slightly self-righteous standard: “I’ve told you a million times, Facebook is an important channel for me.” Neither of you know what that means, but it usually ends the conversation.

How are you?

Let’s take a step back. Remember that movie The Matrix? In the 22nd century acres of humans are housed in towers that fill the landscape as far as the eye can see. They are immersed in a warm liquid, protected from the outside world by a hard plastic shell, nourished quietly and painlessly through a tube.

Remember what happened to Neo when they pulled the tubes out? He started coughing and screaming and looking around in horror and rage. I think he may have drank some of his own piss.

That’s how I’m doing when you interrupt me when I’m on my smartphone.