(All incidents are based on personal observation or reliable informants).

 Amazing as it may seem, cell phones are now more ubiquitous in Mexico than tortillas!  People cannot take a walk, ride a bus, work out in the gym, or even take a leak without them. So if you are a tourist or new resident of Mexico and you have your cell phone in hand,  it behooves you to learn the national etiquette for this omnipresent apparatus.

First off, be sure to carry the device with you no matter where you are going.  Don’t think for a minute that you can go even a half hour without checking for calls, texts, or messages. If you are meeting friends in a restaurant, immediately place the phone on the table the way smokers used to immediately place their pack of cigarettes along side the knife, perhaps symbolic of this cutting-edge activity. If you have tactlessly omitted your usual mail check while driving to the restaurant, by all means do that immediately before the waiter brings the menu.  Your table mates are accustomed to this behavior and are probably doing it too.

Culinary Connectivity.
Photo by Jim Horn

If you are dining with a long-time spouse or with someone you have dated for too long, use the phone periodically to relieve the likely  boredom.  If you are in a prestigious dining room that might make your friends envious, give them a quick call to gloat with an imperative  “guess where I am!”  If you are a spouse or dating  this  compulsive  caller, be sure to have your own phone with you and make your own calls simultaneously to flaunt equality of connectivity.  If reception is bad, no problem going outside seeking a better signal.  You can leave companions  alone at the table for quite some time without taxing their patience.

While dining, be sure not to turn off your phone because you may get  a call from a friend who hasn’t phoned in over an hour.  If you don’t answer the friend will think you are anti-social, and your tablemates will understand completely since they are likely to be calling or texting at the same time.  And be sure to take the phone with you to the washroom when duty calls. Of course it’s easier for women to chat while sitting, but masterful males can manage at a urinal one-handed, or even no-hands, and if one dribbles a bit on his pants that’s a small price to pay for connectivity.

Cellular Urinals

Urinary Connectivity:photo by Ben Cordova
No closeups or enlargements please.

While driving  any distance, be sure to have the phone handy so you don’t miss a call. How well you can do this while weaving in heavy traffic is a tribute to your skill even if you scare the bejesus out of your passengers.  Just be sure to slow to a crawl while talking and making turns.    The impatient person honking behind you is just an antiquated technophobe.

While shopping, you don’t need to bring a list.  You can always call home and chat about what you are doing there and how much the cost of eggs has surged.  At the cashier, don’t worry about taking a call while checking out. The line of people behind you know the cashiers are notoriously  slow. Besides, you have already waited interminably for people to  pay their bills, cash  in their coupons,  add minutes to their cell phone, or insist on  a price check.   No one expects checkout to be quick, so nothing is lost if you are talking instead of paying the bill.  The cashier will wait until you finish.

When walking on Mexican sidewalks, it is too boring an activity not to be chatting on the phone at the same time.  Given that huge gaps in the pavement and even open sewers can swallow you up if you aren’t careful,  at least you have your phone to dial emergency services.  And if the guy texting while driving runs you over, you can phone to report him if you are still conscious.

No Sweat Workout

No Sweat Workout.
Photo by Jim Horn

While at the gym, you might burn more calories if you could turn the phone off for an hour, but that would be so tedious. And the gym should really be a social occasion, so don’t sweat it. Anyone with experience can spin on the bike and trod on the treadmill while texting or talking.  While taking a rest, make yourself comfortable by lying down on the inclined sit-up bench. People waiting to use it will be patient and understanding as long as you don’t talk for more than ten minutes,  and they can use the extra time to make a call.

Cycling Connectivity

Cycling Connectivity
Photo by Jim Horn

When in church, etiquette reportedly varies with denomination.  Catholics can request a papal dispensation to text if the sermon is boring. Evangelicals are out of luck since they have to keep their arms waving and must wait until the spirit subsides.  Members of other denominations need to check individually with their celestial counselors since there are almost as many churches as cell phone distributors.

When on a plane, waiting for takeoff and before the inconsiderate announcement to shut off all electronic devices, be sure to get in as much conversation as possible and as loudly as possible since you are going to have a long spell of abstention. On landing, pull out the phone as fast as possible and start gabbing so that everyone knows how wired you are and how important. The sign in baggage retrieval says cell phone usage is  forbidden, but that is typical government intrusion on your rights and no one is likely to bother you if you disobey.

To flesh this out further, while  making love, don’t miss a potentially important call.  If it’s not urgent, males can just tell the caller something big has come up and you will call right back. Women are probably used to this kind of distraction and might even be grateful for the break, or they can set their phone on vibrate for compensatory satisfaction. At any rate it’s a post-modern form of coitus interruptus and  inexpensive family planning. Of course, a man will probably want to avoid taking a call if he is having his semi-annual erection, or his annual semi-erection, although that should not be an issue now than Mexican pharmacies sell generic viagra for a pittance. So use it to keep up  your calling frequency too. Given the lack of romance among cell phone abusers, many partners have learned to be self-sufficient.

Prostitutes servicing a man may  answer the phone a few times to avoid losing a potential john. A man may object after the second call but she is likely to  respond that she didn’t expect you to take so long.  And don’t begrudge her wanting to kill two birds with one stone or, better said, two johns with one phone

If you are planning a visit to Mexico and don’t own a cell phone, unlikely as that may be, you should now understand the ubiquity of the device and its indispensable significance  in social behavior.  Be sure to own at least one  and don’t risk packing it in checked luggage.  It’s the first thing you will pull out if you want to blend in with the local population and not look altogether alien. Just be careful in the airport lobby with the hundreds of people meandering about, obliviously absorbed in their contraptions. You wouldn’t want to bump into one and  appear to be rude would you?


  1. It wouldn’t be so funny if it weren’t so true. I would add the most irritating thing at the movie theater last week was the glowing LED screen of the guy with the cell phone texting whomever. Nice post, Jim!

    • Not nearly as irritating of those Mexicans, and believe me there are a lot of them, who insist on talking continuously through movies. And if you want to know you’ve ruffled some feathers, just ask them to stop talking during the movie. They to a person just go ballistic at the very thought of an American asking them to stop talking during a movie. They seem to take it as a god-given right, just the same as their apparently god-given right to play loud music and party until 3 or 4 a.m.

  2. Very funny! And, as my very serious daughter said, “this could apply to anywhere these days!” Abrazos, Adriana


  3. Reblogged this on Applecore and commented:
    We have often observed the pre-occupation some people have with their SmartPhones, even when in the company of friends and family. My learned colleague, Jim Horn, has captured this phenomenon with his rapier wit in this smart satire of our cell phone culture.

  4. absolutely hilarious…the bad news is…this is true even for a country like India…the good news,…if you come visit…you will feel right at home! 🙂

  5. You forgot to mention when the phone is used seeing a movie and disturbing people sitting near. So what, they don’t care if you paid a ticket to sit silently and enjoy.

    • I should have added that, but then there are so many others. I stopped going to movies on Fri and Sat
      early evenings when the juvie crowd flocks to the cine with their phones…

  6. You hit the nail on the head! Is there any polite way for one
    to show even the slightest bit of discontent with this obsession?

    • I mean it all depends on how close you are to your friends, you can tell them to stop using it while you talk to them ,I do that with my friends, but I of course do not use mine when I’m with them.

  7. I know, you are totally right however, I can´t understand for the life of me, how in the US, a law has not been passed prohibiting cel phone use while driving, well, at least in Florida it hasn´t been passed.

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