There's been a lot of kerfuffle about the cashier who refused to serve a customer until she'd stopped talking on her mobile. Having worked as one myself (cashier not mobile, don't get smart!) I must admit that my sympathies are on the side of the cashier. It's a thankless job at the best of times. You are going to tell the customer just how much they must cough up for that trolley of goodies, take the money off them and keep smiling and friendly while you do it. And all the while most of them look right through you as if you didn't exist. Their thoughts are already on driving home and cooking some of the stuff or having a cup of tea before getting started. You are just a little supermarket incident in their day - unless you make the mistake of wanting to be treated as if you were a living breathing human being.
We've all been distracted by people chatting loudly on their mobiles. Every time I get on the bus someone sitting fairly close to me is having the ultimate chat: 'yeah I'm on the bus'; 'I should be home in about 10 minutes'; 'so what did you do then?' (this at least is more intriguing even if I can't hear the other end of the conversation). I was once on the train from Sutton to Victoria Station in London and got the full extent of a landlord's problems. It seems that the tenant in Flat 1B had moved to Flat 5C and the new tenant in Flat 1B couldn't figure out how to use the washing machine. He was talking to the tenant in Flat 5C and running through the solutions with her/him. By the time we got to Victoria Station I felt I could have set up an advisory service for his tenants. At any rate I felt I could get the washing machine in Flat 1B working without too much trouble. Maeve Binchy said she often got ideas from her novels from listening to conversations on buses. This would have been a perfect plot for something like "Murder in the Cold Rinse" or 'The washing machine had me at Start'. Hmm, the possibilities are endless. Next time I'm on the bus I'll pay more attention. There's sure to be a story there somewhere.