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Let's Build A D.C.P.A.
(Designated Cell Phone Area)
By Suzanne G. Beyer

From Fifty Something Magazine

Fifty Something Magazine

If there is one advantage to arriving at the airport two hours before flight time, it's the opportunity to sit at a less congested gate, where one can catch up on reading and writing, sip Starbucks, or simply snooze.

With no check-in luggage, I avoided Line #1 and hopped directly onto Line #2, the security check. After shuffling along with the crowd for half an hour, more than an hour remained before my flight boarded. Luckily, I packed a lengthy manuscript in my carry-on bag, to critique. Placing my pile of work on the seat next to me, I looked forward to the full hour that lay ahead.

"WE HAVE TO REVIEW THOSE BOOKS NOW. I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU WOULD DO THAT!" boomed a voice from behind. Startled, I jumped from my seat, scattering my pens and papers following the loud blast. I turned to see a man engaged in what would become a long, loud, cell phone conversation. He appeared totally unaware of my reaction and perhaps cared less that others all the way to the next gate could hear him as well.

Now I'd lost my place and couldn't concentrate on my job at hand, listening to the unavoidable, ear-piercing chatter behind me. I was about to pack up when the Public Address System announced a change of gate. "Alaska Airlines Flight 190 now boarding from Gate 2."

Thank goodness, now I can move.

Once more I settled in at the new gate. Now with less time to edit my manuscript, I nonetheless, recreated my work station and jumped in.

"CHARLIE - HOW ARE YA? I'M AT THE AIRPORT AND JUST THOUGHT I'D CALL AND SAY HI," shouted the person in the seat facing mine. Charlie must have been most pleased with the call. And I?…packed my belongings once again, for yet another move. But to where? The cell phone users had overtaken the entire gate. I counted at least 20 of them carrying on conversations.

Relatives, friends, and co-workers who used to accompany the passengers to the gate, now found themselves on the other end of the phone being talked to in excruciatingly loud voices. The rest of us reluctantly found ourselves becoming a part of their sometimes most personal discussions.

Who would pick up Stacy at soccer practice? Which movie did Luke want to see? And, where would they meet? At this point, I felt like interrupting with a few quick, easy suggestions to hasten their annoying conversations. What ever happened to using cell phones for emergency purposes only! As my daughter later told me, "Get used to it Mom! They're not going away."

To this rude, public disturbance, I say, "Build a D.C.P.A. - Designated Cell Phone Area!" for everyone to scream into their phones in one spot. Remember when we all used to talk in soundproofed booths at the pay phone? Those little holes in the cork board muffled our talking quite well. Signs with a cell phone icon and a red arrow could be posted throughout the airport directing the cell phone users to the closest D.C.P.A.

"Alaska Airlines Flight 190 now boarding for Los Angeles," the gate attendant announces. "I'll return to my manuscript on board," I think.

As I buckle my seat belt, I heave a sigh of relief knowing cell phones are banned before take-off, and continue my reading.


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