As you may have heard, over the last year or so, financial institutions have started to become more accepting of the iPhone, in some cases allowing employees the option to use one instead of the standard-issue Blackberry and in others, getting rid of the latter all together. For employers currently contemplating making the jump, however, a word to the wise: make sure your staff has gone through full iPhone-training before releasing them into the world, lest anyone suffer an unfortunate mishap that basically ruins their lives.

The unmistakably jarring sound of aniPhone marimba ring interrupted the soft and spiritual final measures of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday night. The conductor, Alan Gilbert, did something almost unheard-of in a concert hall: He stopped the performance. But the ringing kept on going, prompting increasingly angry shouts in the audience directed at the malefactor. After words from Mr. Gilbert, and what seemed like weeks, the cellphone owner finally silenced his device. After the audience cheered, the concert resumed. Internet vitriol ensued. But no one, it seems, felt worse than the culprit, who agreed to an interview on Thursday on condition that he not be identified — for obvious reasons.

Maybe you think this sounds like really not a big deal at all? Maybe you think wrong, hombre. The “culprit,” described as “a business executive between 60 and 70 who runs two companies,” is still reeling from the incident and, from the sound of it, may actually require counseling to move forward.

“You can imagine how devastating it is to know you had a hand in that,” said the man… “It’s horrible, horrible.” The man said he had not slept in two days. The man, called Patron X by the Philharmonic, said he was a lifelong classical music lover and 20-year subscriber to the orchestra who was friendly with several of its members. He said he himself was often irked by coughs, badly timed applause — and cellphone rings. “Then God, there was I. Holy smokes,” he said. “It was just awful to have any role in something like that, that is so disturbing and disrespectful not only to the conductor but to all the musicians and not least to the audience, which was so into this concert,” he said by telephone.

And while some would suggest that it could have been worse– the conductor, for instance, could have taken a page from John Castle’s playbook and broken Patron X’s hand, ensuring he’d never touch that screen again, or just killed him right there before going on with the show, it almost sounds as though Mr. X would have preferred such a fate, rather than suffer the “shame” and hell he’s been through this week, which may follow him for the rest of his life. What’s worse, this all could have been avoided through proper education.

Patron X said he had no idea he was the culprit. He said his company replaced his BlackBerry with an iPhone the day before the concert. He said he made sure to turn it off before the concert, not realizing that the alarm clock had accidentally been set and would sound even if the phone was in silent mode. “I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” the man said.

A cautionary tale to ignore at your own peril.

Ringing Finally Ended, but There’s No Button to Stop Shame [NYT]

27 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (27)

  1. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    May God have mercy on his soul.

  2. Posted by Kramerica | January 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    At least he didn't put a Pez dispenser on anyone's lap.

  3. Posted by Steve Bartman | January 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Mr X, Call me.

  4. Posted by guest | January 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM


    -Patron X's Secretary who hates the prick and set his iphone alarm for him!

  5. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    that guy was more outta place than carrot top at the apollo

  6. Posted by John Castle | January 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Ya schmuck!!

  7. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Why wouldn't he just shut the damned thing off instead of going to "silent"?

  8. Posted by Abe_Froman_ | January 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Totally unacceptable!

    -Maestro Greenspan

  9. Posted by Chitown | January 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    I'm still reeling from this incident last next, trying to remember what she wanted to do…

    Lot of layers to this thing ya know.

  10. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Maybe because he wanted to check his email every ten seconds like everyone else.

  11. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    file under "white people problems"…

  12. Posted by MrMoe | January 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    We're unrelated.

    -Prof. X

  13. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM


    -Terminator X

  14. Posted by Malcolm | January 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    ….I'm actually his dad, but I'm not sure he's aware.

  15. Posted by FKApmco | January 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Because he's in his 60s and this new fangled technology is complicated for old people.

  16. Posted by Where's The Beef? | January 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    All I get these days on my Iphone is a blizzard of Groupon discounts on local avocado oil eyelid treatments and nose hair bleaching.

    -Guy Who Wishes He Was Short Groupon

  17. Posted by E. Texas Gas Trader | January 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Why don't the conductor and his band prank the phone holders in the audience? Everone in the band would start playin' the Aggie Fight Song while a band member secretly hidin' in the audience would create the sound of his phone rangin'. Then, the conductor and the band would stop and harang the "audience member" (wink-wink) and everone else would quickly shut off their phone.

    Idears like that is why I am the axe in physical natural gas.

  18. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Seriously- that drives me up the effing wall. Wtf is it that people think they're going to miss if they aren't on email for 10mins? Are they under the impression that someone is going to send them a limited-time offer to achieve immortality?

    -guy in his mid-30s who realizes this makes him sound like he was born in 1902

  19. Posted by Hullabaloo | January 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    If the dude just changed his ringtone to the sound of a fart the conductor would have just blamed the wind section like we do.

    -Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

  20. Posted by NYP Marimba Player | January 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    What about my stress?

  21. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I'm a big fan of tequila and can't wait to try this new Patron X.

    – UBS Bottles and Models analyst

  22. Posted by Guest | January 13, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Want to make a large group of strangers hate you quickly? There's an app for that.

  23. Posted by Spanishmoon | January 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    So, when the conductor stopped the orchestra, it almost became the……..Unfinished Symphony!!!

  24. Posted by B models | January 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    I wasn't aware UBS had a Boston office.

  25. Posted by Carlos Mencia | January 13, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Can I use that?

  26. Posted by Guest | January 14, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    wait, he's married? heteros go to the symphony? Now that's news

  27. Posted by UBS AM Quant #2 | January 15, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Aha! This is proof that we should keep RIM as our largest long position.