Phone Stack

illustration by mark stivers

I have had far too many conversations and dinners with friends disturbed because someone couldn’t turn off their damn phone. Granted, I’ve done it myself and, yes, we all have little situations we’re keeping an eye on, but unless you have a serious emergency (in which case, why are you at dinner with friends?) just put it down. No one likes it when their dining companion puts everyone on hold to talk to someone else.

But recently, a friend told me of a nifty little game that’s almost guaranteed to ensure that this never happens again. It’s called Phone Stack. Here’s how it goes: Everyone puts their phones on the table in a neat little pile—sound off or on, it’s up to you. The phones are not to be touched. At all. No matter how much it rings or beeps. You may reach for it out of habit, but resist! Because whoever grabs their phone first foots the bill for everyone else.

After that, the phones are still in play. If another person grabs, they buy everyone a round of drinks, covers entry for the club or whatever.

The point is to focus on the people you’re with at a meal rather, than the people who aren’t there.