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College of Human Ecology

Director of K-State's Hotel and Restaurant Management program incorporates proper cell phone use into etiquette instruction

Monday, February 12, 2007

MANHATTAN -- Pat Pesci knows a little bit about rude and bad behavior.

Known as "Mr. Etiquette" by some and "Mr. Manners" by others, Pesci, director of the hotel and restaurant management program at Kansas State University, helps students brush up on their manners before interviewing for jobs. Pesci has been conducting dining etiquette workshops at K-State for more than 15 years. He also has worked with groups both on- and off-campus, including K-State athletic teams, on professional behavior and etiquette.

As the popularity of cell phones increases, Pesci sees the need for a new area of etiquette instruction: proper cell phone usage in public.

Pesci said loud ring tones and prolonged conversations in restaurants, movie theaters and other public places are just some of the annoyances caused by cell phone users who feel the need to be connected anywhere, anytime.

"It's kind of bad when you go out in public and people hold you hostage to their cell phone use," he said. "The problem is even popping up in the checkout line. I've seen signs in the last year telling customers to turn their cell phones off when they are in the store. Some retail people don't even talk to people going through line until they are off their cell phone."

Cell phones also can be a problem in the classroom.

"We have students that have their cell phones on constantly," Pesci said. "It's getting to the point where I have to announce in class to turn cell phones off or put on vibrate and leave them in the student's backpack. I do not want the cell phone out on the desk or table. It's a distraction."

Pesci said he also has noticed more students text messaging to other students during class, which can be a problem during tests.

"I usually have students put their backpacks and cell phones in the front of the room during tests," he said.

The problems with cell phone use in public, according to Pesci, show a lack of civility and respect, as well as a misplaced sense of entitlement.

He questions whether there is a happy medium.

"I guess at one time it was supposed to be hip or cool. We're past that; it's really abusive," he said. "And, its not just young people. I've been in the middle of a meeting with adults when someone's cell phone will ring and that person will have a five-minute phone conversation right in front of 10 other people."

Pesci recalls taking a group of students to a prestigious meeting in Chicago that was attended by several CEOs from major corporations. Rather than network or pay attention to what was going on at the meetings, two of the students spent the majority of the event on their cell phones, much to Pesci's chagrin.

Pesci has since laid down some guidelines to students attending his dining etiquette workshops about cell phone use. He tells them that when they are attending industry-related events -- such as a conference -- students should turn their cell phones off or put them on vibrate.

"That's the first thing I'll say," Pesci said. "If you're at a job interview, you would turn your cell phone off. I just want people to think. Many people believe they are the only person in the room when they are on their cell phone. Cell phone users also may talk a little bit louder when they are on the phone, forgetting that someone may be right beside them."

When encountering someone talking on a cell phone in a public place, Pesci said it is best to try and walk away from that person, if possible.

"People using their cell phones in public places didn't just start doing so yesterday," Pesci said. "That's how they have done it for some time. A lot of times, they will look at you as if to say, 'Who are you? Mind your own business.' It's going to take a grassroots effort to institute change."

Source: Pat Pesci, 785-532-2210, patpesci@k-state.edu http://www.mediarelations.kstate.edu/WEB/News/MediaGuide/pescibio.html
News release prepared by: Keener A. Tippin II, 785-532-6415, media@k-state.edu

This article was posted on Monday, February 12, 2007, and is filed under College News, Hospitality Management.