I was enjoying the show with my wife when the person two seats away from me received a cell phone call. Everyone around me heard it. This phone was not on vibrate. The social shaming began when we all turned our heads to look at him, in the dark, to give him our best scum-of-the-Earth-look. I expected him to quickly shut it off and apologize. But he answered it. Guffaws from the crowd followed. I said something like "oh no, you're not going to answer it!?" The woman in between us, I assume his wife, said to me "it actually is an important phone call." I said back, "then why is he here?" I then tried to hear Bill Maher, but I couldn't hear the show over this call which continued. It sounded like someone was "safe" and was checking in. It seemed to be a perfect use of text messaging and a phone set to vibrate. This is where I got pissed and I said loudly, "Is he going to pay for my ticket?" It was an expensive ticket and I was very tired from my drive Boston that morning. My wife said to me, something like, "you are getting louder than him." This is one of her jobs after all, stopping me before I go too far. I do the same for her sometimes. I was becoming part of the problem. This is a real problem of the modern world, when you get so incensed about a problem that your resolution and/or complaint becomes a bigger problem than the actual problem. Hopefully, you are all lucky enough to have someone to stop you from going that far.
Below is my letter to Higher Ground, one of the best businesses in the Burlington area, who sponsored the show. At the Higher Ground I have seen Aimee Mann, Wilco, Brett Dennen, Billy Bragg, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Andrew Bird, Martin Sexton, Erin McKeown, Guggenheim Grotto (aka Storyman), Johnny Winters and Michelle Shocked among others. I love this place. In no way do I want this to reflect badly on them. I just don't like to be pulled into someone else's bullshit. I would like a better solution to this problem other than punching the next person who does this. I don't want to become part of the problem. I will let you know what comes of this, if anything.
Dear Higher Ground,Thank you for bringing Bill Maher to Vermont. It was very entertaining and socially relevant which is rare. I appreciate your on-going effort to bring quality entertainment to our region. I am a loyal and frequent customer and plan on being for years to come.I wanted to bring something to your attention. During the show, a person in my row (he was seated in Orchestra row O seat 10) answered a cell phone call during the show. The ringer was on and he answered it. He had a loud conversation during the show. I missed several jokes not only because of him but because of the people (like myself) that were shushing him. Eventually someone got the attention of one of your ushers but by then his call was finished and the damage was done. To my knowledge, nothing punitive happened to this man as a result of his anti-social behavior … other than the social shaming.I bring this to your attention not because I expect the ushers at Memorial Auditorium to be able police every rude person, but that nothing was said before the show about cell phone use. This gentleman’s wife stated that it was a very important call which means to me that he should not have been in his seat until after the call was received and completed. Shouldn’t something be said before a show … particularly a show that costs over $50.00 a ticket … that this behavior won’t be tolerated? I suggest that you announce that people will be escorted out of the show and their credit cards will be fined if they use their cell phone during the show.I am grateful that a fist fight did not break out. I am sure you are as well.Thank you for your time, respectfully, Mark Peloquin, Westford, VT