So you’re on a cheap date at a burger joint and the ring tone on your cell phone lets you know it’s your best bud in the world, probably calling back about those football tickets he was getting for you.  You tell the girlfriend, or boyfriend, to excuse you a minute, and you take the call.  No big deal, right?  Cell phones are so ubiquitous today that funeral homes offer to bury your loved one with a cell phone – in case they wake up or something, I guess.  We talk on our phones in the bathroom, the office, on the bus, in the car, at the movie theater, while waiting in line, and so on.  But there are occasions when you should put your cell phone on ‘vibrate’ and leave it alone, if you want to avoid losing a client or getting slapped by your date.  Here’s the QT:

When you’re on an important business lunch or romantic date at a plush and expensive restaurant, the kind of place that has REAL waiters, not busboys in used usher uniforms, and where you know the tip is going to exceed the gross national product of Cambodia, you should cool it when it comes to answering your cell phone, or playing with its aps.

Of course, restaurants can be both casual and expensive, and if that’s the case you can usually get away with taking a call, or even initiating one if you have to.  Also, if you’re in a bar, even a fancy one, it’s okay to have the trusty cell phone in hand and talk to anybody you want, whenever you want.  You may not be able to smoke in a bar anymore, but you can darn well talk to anybody you please on your cell phone.

The rule of thumb is that if you have to dress up like you’re going to church or synagogue or mosque, then it’s the kind of restaurant where the cultured clientele will not appreciate your ring tone shredding the air with “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  If you find yourself going to fancy-schmansy restaurants often, you should consider ring tones by Mozart and Hayden, instead riffs by Jimmy Hendrix.  Also, make sure you tell everyone at your table that the call is from your money market manager, even if it’s just the plumber calling about your clogged toilet.

Best of all, if you REALLY want to impress your dinner date or business lunch guests, don’t bring your cell phone along at all, and breezily inform your co-dinners that you no longer have one because it’s too distracting.  Instead you use a personal messenger service.  That will impress the heck out of them.  The downside is that they’ll probably stick you with the bill . . .

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