On Sunday I sat to the right of a young man who in turn sat to the right of an elderly man.
During the sermon and then later during communion, the old man's cell phone went off six times. At least the young man sitting next to me claims it was the old man's phone all six times, though my ears discerned some of those rings from another direction.
The young man was becoming increasingly agitated and mumbled something to me. Finally he said something to the offender, and the man nodded his head as if in comprehension, but did nothing. At this point the young man rose ostentatiously from his chair and exited the church in a huff.
After the benediction, I went up to the older man and we exchanged a few pleasantries. I asked about his rib, which he had started to tell me about before the service - that it was broken and that the VA hospital said there is little you can do about a fractured rib but wait for it to mend itself.
After a few minutes he told me that the young man between us had said something to him during the service but he couldn't understand what it was. I seized the opportunity to ask the gentleman if he knew how to put his cell phone on vibrate. He replied that he did not.
Later that day I saw the young man again and told him that the old man did not know how to silence his phone and was not being intentionally rude. How much better it would have been, I suggested, if he had asked the old gentleman if he could help him turn off his phone. The young man replied that the old man should have at least left the church rather than cause a disruption, which is probably true.
There is often missing information in a situation that may mitigate a harsh judgment. My husband once told me that if you place a ball or other object across a room from you and look at it, you can see it only from one angle and there are 359 other angles you don't see - and that's just on a single plane. There are an infinite number of other planes.