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What to do about cell phone usage at the cineplex

No, not yours! Your phone should be hidden somewhere so far away you wouldn’t even be able to find it until the film’s long over.

But when other people pull them out and use them—and they do—it’s time for some serious ego whooping worthy of the action star you paid to see.

After all, you didn’t shell out $13.50 to be blinded by the glare of a rude person’s phone and deafened by the clanking sound of their infernal texts. You paid to be blinded and deafened by a movie!

Just because they can’t go two hours without communicating urgent stuff like “I’m out right now” and “Duane Reade later?” doesn’t mean you have to blankly sit there and take it.

And when they actually make calls—or answer them—that’s really the limit! You’re trying to hear Meryl Streep give an Oscar worthy performance over the sound of someone screeching to a friend, “Her makeup looks weird. Like some kind of Munster of something.” Don’t take it sitting down!

So what do you do?

Well, various approaches almost work for me, when I get up the nerve to use them. But whatever you do, you must do it immediately, the second the problem becomes evident. Nip it pronto rather than wait till you’ve hit the breaking point, by which time it’ll seem odd that you’re suddenly complaining about a situation that’s been going on for 45 minutes. Your delayed aggression screams out your own character weakness and they know they will win.

So right away, you should:

(1) Politely but firmly say, “Could you put that away, please? Thanks so much.”

(2) If the genteel approach doesn’t work, take it up a notch and let your anger be known. “Stop that! We’re trying to watch the movie! We paid money!”

(3) Still no results? Stare them down as if surveying a decayed rodent. Your most withering look—the one you use on loved ones during the holidays—will be really chilling.

(4) Still nada? Then actually lean over and stare inquisitively at their texts. When they bristle, simply say, “Well, since you’re disrupting the whole movie for everyone, I feel we all have a right to see what you’re up to.” That will creep them out (and will remind them of third grade) and they’ll probably move many rows away.

(5) Run out and get an usher (or even the popcorn girl–anyone) to come in and provide some official-seeming discipline. This is an absolute last resort since you’ll be missing some of your precious movie—but you weren’t enjoying it anyway because of all the horrid texting sounds.

(6) And the after-last resort is the ultimate passive-aggressive tack: Just move somewhere else in the theater.  If someone’s texting there too, just go home and wait two weeks for the DVD, for God’s sake.