I recall being in my favourite restaurant some while ago, when someone started playing horridly distorted, loud music on a nearby... well, no, wait, it wasn't on a boom box after all — it was on a mobile phone. A diner at the next table was receiving a phone call (and wasn't answering it, letting it continue to "ring").
Yes, in these days of downloadable ring tones we're subjected to all sorts of customized noise in all sorts of environments, from offices to commuter trains to restaurants to loo stalls. In an online discussion a year or two ago someone recounted a tale of working in an open-plan office where a co-worker would habitually leave his mobile phone on his desk and go away, inflicting his annoying ring tone on the others in the area. It seems that this gent also left a half-full cup of coffee behind one day, and one of his co-workers combined the two, to the amusement of all (except, I should guess, the phone's owner).
Well, now just a couple of days after hearing about Cingular's embarrassing "la Migra" ring tone (which they've pulled from their web site and for which they've apologized), the Washington Post tells us how the ring tone of a member of the Iraqi parliament caused parliament to be shut down and triggered a fist-fight.
So, everyone, you're on notice: We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take this any more! Enough with the annoying ring tones. They're not cute, and they're not funny. Just set your phone to "vibrate", and spare us all.