Mabel, Mabel, Strong and Able, Keep Your Cell Phones off the Table

Can we all agree here? In this week of Thanksgiving, as we gather together, let’s be there, with one another,  eye to eye. Much as I want to see the picture of your cat in her pilgrim costume, it can wait until after dinner. Much as you want to text your boyfriend for the seven-thousandth time, he can wait, too.

I’m not going to insult you by saying calls, pings, Facebook, and Twitter can also wait, because you know that. Tell me you know that.

 Sarah Aynesworth, etiquette consultant in Texas, says, “ENOUGH.”

I can listen and text at the same time. I can multi-task. Not. Screen Shot from The Britishes ”Stop Looking at Your Phones”

“Manners,” she says, “are about how you make others feel. More important than any rule is making the person you are with feel like she is important to you. Would you verbally say to your fellow diners, ‘You eat your salad while I answer this email…’ ? Never! And yet that is what happens.”

Oh sorry, I didn’t think you’d notice. Screen Shot from The Britishes ”Stop Looking at Your Phones”

“We’ve all seen a table of teenagers, sitting across from each other texting instead of talking. I only hope they can make eye contact and carry on a conversation in their first job interview,” she continues. Srsly! But Sarah believes adults are beginning to be just as bad. “Beginning” is generous if you ask me… “Rarely can you have a phone-free evening these days,” she says, woefully correct.

Phones on the table are not okay, either. A table prepared for a meal, be it humble or grand, is a place of sustenance and nurturing, of coming together and camaraderie, of story-telling and family squabbles. Whatever. These are connections. These are relationships. These are life and love. We should respect the table and hold a reverence for it, however light-hearted. Slapping a cell phone down beside your place is just that: a slap.

Right then, all phones in the middle of the table. Whoever answers first picks up the tab. Unless of course it is at your own house. But hey, that’s a thought…Screen Shot from The Britishes ”Stop Looking at Your Phones”

Stop Looking at Your Phones, a funny Downton Abbey-ish spoof is circulating on YouTube, btw, where they all heave their huge, circa-1914-ten-pound phones to the table… We are amused. And yet not. (Warning: video dialog includes f-bomb and c-word. 😮 )

They make the phones so small nowadays… Screen Shot from The Britishes ”Stop Looking at Your Phones”

And finally, advises Sarah, “With the holidays approaching and dinners with loved ones and business associates ahead, I challenge you at least to think about it. Put your phone away and focus on your fellow diners. Be present, appreciate the moment, give your full attention, make them feel like the most important people in the world.”

Talk about a gift that keeps giving. Thank you, Sarah.

If it’s really important, you’ll get word soon enough. Screen Shot from The Britishes ”Stop Looking at Your Phones”

To learn more about the lovely and superbly etiquette-d Sarah Aynesworth, or to contact her, visit her website here


  1. THANK YOU! I plunked someone’s cell into a pitcher of water recently. They were not amused. I was even less amused. Manners are out the window these days. Oh, dear, I’ve become a curmudgeon.

    On a nicer note, my Thanksgiving centerpiece and place cards are looking fabulous, thanks to you!

  2. Thank you Frances,just in time for family gathering. Have forwarded it to all the super technical people in my family. Love E.B.’s comment. My Mothers doctor put her cigarettes in the hospital sink and filled the sink with water!

  3. That video is hilarious but so true! I just retired from a university…it is impossible to teach or even talk to college students because of cell phones. And cheating is rampant because of them. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you Frances. Have a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving! Wistful seeing the photo of Frannie last year but I’m sure she’ll be with you in spirit.
    Laura xox

  5. Absolument, Frances! Thank you for writing this in an era where technology so often trumps manners. I wrote an essay a while back called “The Perils of Modern Correspondence” you might enjoy…Happy Holidays!

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