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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

It Takes a Village to...Teach Some Manners?

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

It Takes a Village to...Teach Some Manners?

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disgruntled
Today, I was surfing the 'net at work and actually being productive in a way that might have real-life tangible benefits, looking for examples of punctuation errors that can lead to embarassing misunderstandings for a writing sample that I was doing. As is often the case with surfing the Internet, I ended up reading something completely unrelated to my original topic and far more interesting.

Most know Lynne Truss as the author the no-nonsense approach to grammar Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Incidentally, that book was the reason that I ended up on her site, ended up clicking a link to her other book, Talk to the Hand, and ended up spending nearly an hour reading the introduction that is posted on her homepage.

Talk to the Hand is about the loss of politeness and subsequent overwhelming rise of rudeness in modern society. Even just reading the introduction, a lot of sense was made for me on points that had before been a bit baffling or simply beyond categorization.

I tend to be an overwhelmingly polite person, to the point of being old-fashioned. I hold the doors for my elders, let them walk first, use all those little "please" and "thank you" lost in the hustle-and-bustle of modern life. My politeness has always baffled me, not because I found it averse (quite the opposite) but because it felt very old-fashioned, and I am far from an old-fashioned girl. From my political leanings to my comfort discussing sexual topics to my style of dress all seem to suggest a person for whom "old-fashioned manners" feels a bit incongruent.

Of course, I was raised that way, ingrained from a young age to say "please" and "thank you" and make minimal gestures of respect, like holding doors or picking up my garbage or not being obnoxiously loud in public places. Manners seemed, to me, to be a long list of do's and don't's. Do pick up your soda cup when leaving a movie theatre. Don't have loud cellular phone conversations in a restaurant. They felt intuitive to me but rules nonetheless, codes of behavior that had somehow been decided.

I suppose that I had never given much thought to how they were decided and so figured them to be rather arbitrary. Alas, the excerpt of Truss's book suggests that this is not the way of things at all. It was not the books of etiquette that led to the evolution of good manners, the lists of how to hold a fork and cross your legs and address various persons of importance. Instead, good manners are simply making an effort to be considerate of others' comforts and needs. I don't talk into my cell while ordering at Panera Bread because it's rude, but I don't need Miss Manners to tell me that. I know that I am delaying the folks waiting behind me with my conversation. I am treating the cashier who should have my full attention with less than that and so am being disrespectful. I am forcing strangers to listen to me argue with my husband over a J.C. Penney bill or talk with my friend about my wicked-bad menstrual cramps or moon about my problems at work. I don't do these things because I know that the comfort of others is sacrificed to make room for my rude behavior.

Then it clicked why I can generally detest bureaucracy and rules and yet embrace good manners to the fullest: Because it is not so much an issue of rules as empathy, and I've always been pretty darned good at that.

Then, of course, we get into the issue of why manners have devolved so over the last few decades. Sure, rude people are not new, but I think that we will all agree that rude people slowly seem to be taking over the globe. People talking on their cells and holding up traffic or the sandwich line; people letting their kids scream and throw Cheerios all over the floor in a restaurant while they lean on their elbows and chat to their girlfriends; people using the merge lane to get a few car-lengths ahead of we poor saps who have been sitting in the backup for a half-hour without reprieve. How did this come about? Is it the media? Our lackadaisical upbringings? Air pollution? Rap music? Please, give us answers!

Truss's theory is that the crumbling sense of community is leading to a decline in good manners. When we live in a society where we feel that we are part of a community, it is easier to think of the person in line behind us as a human being just like we are. It is hard to make a choice out of comfort or laziness that will inconvenience that person. But when community goes away, we become more insular. Our world becomes me-me-me. The person behind us delayed by our cell call or our decision to strike up conversation with a long-lost friend in the middle of the path: Screw 'em. Bobby and I both have been cut off by drivers, nearly involved in an accident because of the other driver's inconsideration, and they flip us off for having the impertinence to honk our horns. With our cell in one ear, iPod in the other; in our suburban communities where we don't care to know our neighbors' names so long as they aren't of frightening ethnicities, it is easy to lose a sense of community and easy to forget that the people we are hurting are people, just like me and you.

Interestingly, two days earlier, I had been reading the July issue of National Geographic, an interesting article about global warming and how the environmental movement was failing to address it in a way that was generating any solutions. The author brought up the same point as Truss: Global warming is largely caused by our lack of community. For one, we don't know our neighbors well enough to knock on their doors before we go to the store and ask if they need a gallon of milk, much less carpool for grocery shopping, picking up the kids from school, or riding to work. Secondly, it's that me-me-me attitude again: Why should I inconvenience myself with walking ten minutes to the store across the street when I can drive there in two? Never mind the impact my actions make on my community, on the world as a whole. Me-me-me.

I suppose that I am bemoaning nothing new: People have been attributing drug use and crime to a lack of community for some time now. But it intrigued me, seeing these two separate pieces of writing that attribute vastly different problems--one as massive as global warming and the other as seemingly insignificant as a person's failure to say "Thank you" for a held door--to the same cause: a lack of community and the subsequent failure to identify with our fellow human beings as we once did.

I know around here, people make no secret of being "in a hurry" through much of their lives. The attitude of climbing on your friend's head to get that promotion is rather exalted...so long as it results in a three-storey home in Waverly Woods and two Mercedes in the driveway. Is it any surprise that the people with a cell phone in one hand and a latte in the other, zipping down the Capitol Beltway at 88 mph while steering with their elbows are apt not to have time--or concern--for some hippie-looking, government-bureaucrat nothing like me? Even to give me a turn signal before cutting me off and nearly sending me into the jersey wall? Because what's my life to her meeting?

Me-me-me.

Because I don't want to sound too highbrow, I will now allow myself to grumble about the most annoying ways that people are rude.

  • People. On. Cellphones. I know that I'm not new in stating this, but the sight alone of a person with a phone in the ear makes me grit my teeth. This summer, Bobby and I stopped at Rita's Italian Ice on our way home from hiking. The guy in front of us was on a cellphone. He maintained his loud conversation all while standing in line. He ordered in between yakking. I proclaimed, "Oh, how rude!" and everyone around us turned in relief. "Oh, you think so too?" Of course I do! Are we so ingrained in "cell phone culture" that holding up a mass of people waiting in line and showing blatant disrespect to the cashier taking one's order is acceptable because "this is a really important call"?
  • People who inch alongside you with their signal on and, when you let them over, promptly drop to 10 mph below the speed limit. Usually because they're taking a cell phone call.
  • People who walk abreast on the sidewalk and--when I'm coming at them from the opposite direction--won't step aside to allot my half to me, forcing me to step onto the curb or into the street. Is it really so hard to step aside so that I don't chance getting splattered by a Ford F-150 (whose driver is probably talking on a cell phone?)
  • People who can't seem to grasp that I don't want to spend my entire meal listening to their baby screaming. Look, I know parenting is hard. But that doesn't change the fact that twenty-five people are paying fifty bucks a pop for meals that they can't enjoy because your baby is screaming, and you don't want to interrupt your own meal to remove him/change him/feed him/hold him (maybe because you're on your cell phone too?) and are too damned cheap to pay a babysitter.
  • On the same thread, people who bring babies or small children to R-rated movies. If I couldn't get into G.I. Jane when I was sixteen, then what makes someone think that Hostel is a good place to take a four-year-old? Again: pony up. Pay a babysitter.
  • On the same thread, people who feel the need to add running commentary to the movies. "Oh! He's hiding behind the car! Oh! He's going to get her! Look out! Look out! (She's good as dead, you know.) Ha! Look at that stupid muthafucka. Woo! Yeah! Hit him harder! Git that dog! Woo!" Ugh.
  • People who think that they're cool because they have a sound system in their car that makes my teeth hurt (and I'm three cars away) and feel the need to drive around with it turned all the way up.
  • People that think that the ground/gutter/building hallway is but a big trashcan. Which really says, "I'm too lazy to carry my garbage for the three feet that it would take to put it in the bin, so Dawn can pick it up for me."
  • People who stop in the crosswalk with a sour look on their faces, then--when you stop so that they can proceed safely across the street--meander as slooooowwwwwlllllyyyyyy aaaaaassss tttttthhhhheeeeyyyy ccccaaannnn. And of course don't wave thanks for not flattening their asses.
  • People who don't properly tip their servers. For Bobby and me to tip less than 20% requires some sort of egregious behavior that we know is the server's fault. Like we're the only table, we see her at the wait station talking on her cell phone, we're eating spicy TexMex food, and our drinks have been empty for ten minutes. And I am making a point to suck on the dregs in hopes that "Oh! Obnoxious noise! Someone needs a refill!" But this comes back to the idea of community. Bobby and I put ourselves through school (the first time) partly based on tips that we made as servers. In Maryland, servers make $2.38 an hour (minimum wage is currently $6.15). Yet as soon as it comes time to pay up for the service received, people start shifting around and coming up with excuses to leave less than the required amount. "Well the water tasted funny." (Call the town of Belair; I have nothing to do with that.) "Well, the food took a long time." (Then don't tip the cook, who makes $10 an hour anyway.) "Well, I talked on my cell phone for ten minutes and my fries got cold." (Then complain to God for making the laws of physics disfavorable to cell-phone junkies.) "Well, I don't agree that we should have to leave a tip." (Then write your Congressperson and change the law; until then, I'm still making $2.38 an hour.)

Now admit it: what rude behaviors absolutely get under your skin?
  • Truss's theory is that the crumbling sense of community is leading to a decline in good manners. When we live in a society where we feel that we are part of a community, it is easier to think of the person in line behind us as a human being just like we are. It is hard to make a choice out of comfort or laziness that will inconvenience that person. But when community goes away, we become more insular. Our world becomes me-me-me. The person behind us delayed by our cell call or our decision to strike up conversation with a long-lost friend in the middle of the path: Screw 'em.

    That's only half the equation. The other half is that in traditional communities, you pay a social price for being rude: people start treating you badly in return (or ostracize you). In a large, relatively anonymous community, most of the people you interact with you may never well see again, so you can treat them badly without suffering any repercussions to yourself. This is the reason rudeness is so pronounced on the Internet, along with antisocial behavior such as trolling; it's trivially easy to hide your identity online, and to create a new identity at will, so enforcing social norms is next to impossible.

    As to pet peeves, I share most of yours. The ones I'll add is people who, while out in public, go walking around listening to their iPods to the point where they're so totally zoned out they've got no idea what's going on around them. Is it really asking too much to expect some minimal level of attention to reality from people who are out in a public space? And public drunkeness irritates me as well.
    • The ones I'll add is people who, while out in public, go walking around listening to their iPods to the point where they're so totally zoned out they've got no idea what's going on around them. Is it really asking too much to expect some minimal level of attention to reality from people who are out in a public space?

      I agree 100% on this one.

      A Very Rude Lady at my summer workplace walks *around the office* listening to her iPod Nano. Now, the office is ultra-casual in dress and manners (e.g., jeans + sweatshirt, can call the bosses by their first names, etc.), but please... It's a *job*. Hmph.

      And I solemnly swear that, now that I own an iPod, I shall *never* go around in public places and zone out with it. When you walk about in the world, you should pay attention to it.
      • I will hold you to your oath (even if you didn't swear it in Iluvatar's name, and invoke Manwe and Varda as witnesses). May the Everlasting Darkness be your fate if you abuse your iPod in such a way! ;-)
      • I nearly always wear my iPod when I'm in town, but obviously I always take it off before entering a shop etc. One thing I noticed is this: the music lifts my mood, I'm able to look around more and smile at people.

        ...you would be surprised how many people glare angrily at you, simply because you smile at them...
        • I remember in social psychology class someone Not From Maryland (from the South, I believe) mentioning how in his hometown, it was considered polite to make eye contact and smile at people as you pass. In Maryland, he noticed, people tend to think this weird or even frown in reply. And if you dare to greet a person you don't know.... *OMG!*

          How odd.
    • This is the reason rudeness is so pronounced on the Internet, along with antisocial behavior such as trolling; it's trivially easy to hide your identity online, and to create a new identity at will, so enforcing social norms is next to impossible.

      This is true, about not being able to be "punished" for egregious behavior, either in real life or online. In keeping with the idea of Internet rudeness, I have noticed that people tend to behave far more rudely on ff.net than other Tolkien archives. This could be because the community is not as strong there as in places like HASA and OSA or because idiots aren't punished there. I have seen several authors now have problems with the same ignorant reviewer on ff.net, but nothing can be done there. This person popped up on another archive, left one rude remark, and it was dealt with. The review was deleted and the person was warned.

      The ones I'll add is people who, while out in public, go walking around listening to their iPods to the point where they're so totally zoned out they've got no idea what's going on around them.

      Eep, I missed one! :^D I would agree with this. I have an iPod, and I listen to it at my desk at work. Of course, my building consists of two people, and we have separate offices. When my boss comes in to talk to me, I shut it off and remove the earpieces. Not so hard to do.

      Technology is wonderful--I love my iPod and feel so much more comfortable driving and traveling with a cell phone--but it does so often take people out of the world.

      And public drunkeness irritates me as well.

      Hear hear! That too. :) Especially the poor misguided youth who think that they're so cool because they're either drunk or have been drunk sometime in the recent future and like to loudly proclaim it. Ugh.
  • Now admit it: what rude behaviors absolutely get under your skin?

    Absolutely everything you mentioned (especially cell phone yakking and polluting) plus:

    -Other drivers honking at me or looking peeved when I *gasp* obey traffic laws! (OMG who'd have thunk I was supposed to STOP at a stop sign before turning either way!)
    -Guests leaving the toilet seat up when they come to the house and find it's my family's custom to put it down when we're finished. That's probably just a personal pet peeve, but still, I find it gross when I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth and the seat's up...
    -People talking on the cell phone in public restrooms. WTF! :P
    -Certain sisters bringing their boyfriends home after 11pm, when I'm in my pajamas, and not minding how loud their music is *glares at the next room*
    -People not minding my personal space.
    -People thinking that just because they're taller, they always get the most comfortable seat/have the right to constantly make me uncomfortable because "you can fit more easily" or whatever.
    -Classmates talking during lectures (back when I was in classes).

    Lots more, but my eyes are losing focus...
    • Er, by "people not minding my personal space," I mean "People standing so close to me I feel uncomfortable and shudder at their body odor," not "People being okay with it."

      And to add an extra mini-rant: no, certain people out there, my only being 5'2 really, really does NOT mean it's that much easier for me to be crammed into a small space with stuff piled up around me than it is for anybody at 5'5 or even 6'1, so stop taking advantage of me like that and quit with the entitlement whining!

      *brings cookies in from the kitchen to share and make up for that* :D
      • *gladly accepts cookies* :)

        You know, listening to people sometimes, I wonder how the human species has evolved as far as it has. People take every physical "disability" as an excuse to get out of--or deserve extra of--anything. "Oh, I'm tall." "Oh, my feet are big." "Oh, I have double-joined knuckles." Who cares?

        And to add my own little mini-rant: hypochondriacs. Ugh. "Well, I'm two days pregnant so I can't lift that tub of ketchups." (This was popular at The Piece.) "Well, I sprained my ankle two years ago, so do you mind driving around until we find a closer parking space?" I have a friend who got hit in the shin with a hockey puck and, five minutes later, was on the phone to say that she'd be in late to work because she'd have to get a ride from someone since it hit her right leg and she wouldn't be able to drive. Then she limped out to the parking lot, and I said, "Wow, that must be really bad!" and she said, "No, I just don't want to strain it worse." More like, "No, I just want the attention." It was a bruise! Get over it!

        That was a little OT, so my apologies. :) *offers dried fruit and Sun Chips to make up for that*
        • You know, listening to people sometimes, I wonder how the human species has evolved as far as it has. People take every physical "disability" as an excuse to get out of--or deserve extra of--anything.

          Haha, too true! When somebody kept suspecting me of having Asperger's Syndrome, I got scared away from more than one support community I looked at in curiosity because of that mentality ("I'm blaming my lack of manners on this condition I was self-diagnosed with!"). And yesterday I had to read a tall person's rant about how she shouldn't have had to wait for a short person to use the "tall people's water fountain" when there was a shorter water fountain around, and made it sound like the entire world discriminates against tall people. Okay, so being tall means she has a right not to wait in line, and the short person isn't allowed to use whatever water fountain he or she finds most comfortable? Good grief.

          That was a little OT, so my apologies. :) *offers dried fruit and Sun Chips to make up for that*

          I love OTness :D
          • Ai, yes, Asperger's is one of those "disorders du jour" that--like ADHD--I fear is too often being used to excuse what people perceive as less-than-ideal personality traits. And this does a disservice to people who really do have Asperger's (or ADHD or whatever) as well as promoting the perception that "oh, this is bad, so it must be something wrong with the person!" rather than accepting that personalities are on a continuum, and even at the extremes, it's not abnormal. Just different. Nrgh. /clinical psych rant ;)

            As for tall people being discrimated against...WTF?? For one, several studies have shown that height (and weight and attractiveness) do play a role in whether or not a job candidate gets the job. Secondly, the world is often built for tall people. I am 5'7" and cannot reach the top shelves in our kitchen. The other day at Borders, I watched an average-height woman have to grab a tall man walking by to get a book from the top shelf for her. And having to wait for a short person to use the "tall person's" water fountain? Please. I think that the "short person" fountain is actually designed for children or folks in wheelchairs, not for people of diminuitive height to have to contort themselves to use it so as not to be an inconvenience to taller people.

            Well, while we're at it, I feel discriminated-against as a blond because people make jokes about my intellectual abilities. Woe is me. ;)
            • Secondly, the world is often built for tall people. I am 5'7" and cannot reach the top shelves in our kitchen.

              Seriously... I'm slightly below average height, I guess (5'2-ish), and spend my life on my tip-toes or straining my shoulders and arms or looking for stable things to stand on until some tall person comes in and quite easily and gracefully helps me get what I want. Yeah, this world is obviously built for short peoples' comfort. *eyeroll*

              I think that the "short person" fountain is actually designed for children or folks in wheelchairs

              That's my impression... they're not that comfortable for me to use, either. (And I'd rather get in the way of a tall person who's old enough to wait her turn than a little kid or a person in a wheelchair who might need to use a little more effort to get a drink.)

              And even if they were for plain old short people--so what, you know? Keep some bottled water with you, if you get so thirsty that you can't wait your turn at the drinking fountain you want to use or find another fountain.

              Well, while we're at it, I feel discriminated-against as a blond because people make jokes about my intellectual abilities. Woe is me. ;)

              And people discriminate against my redheaded self by suggesting I'm too fiesty and stubborn to make rational decisions! Waah! :D
    • -People talking on the cell phone in public restrooms. WTF! :P

      I know! That's my feeling too! Personally, I can't always pee even when there's someone in the restroom with me. To be talking on the phone.... *shudder*

      I thought of you on Sunday because as I was changing in the restroom at the pool after scuba class, the girl in the stall next to me called someone on her cell. It's not even like her cell rang and she said, "Oh! It's mom, I'd better answer!" She called her mother to set up lunch plans, and she was peeing at the same time. Dude. I could not do this.

      Never mind that bathrooms make things really loud and echoey. i.e. unpleasant for other patrons (who are trying to do things other than set up lunch plans. :^P)

      -People thinking that just because they're taller, they always get the most comfortable seat/have the right to constantly make me uncomfortable because "you can fit more easily" or whatever.

      I get that too. I am actually tall for a female, but besides my mother-in-law (who is shorter by a tiny bit) and my sister (who is the same height as me), everyone in my family is taller than me. Often much taller. (Bobby and my f-i-l by about nine inches.) So I tend to hear, "Dawn, can you move your seat up?" to where my knees are pressing the dash and if we get into an accident, there go my kneecaps. Oh, well, didn't need them anyway. It's much more important that they be able to spread their lanky asses all over the backseat.
      • Personally, I can't always pee even when there's someone in the restroom with me. To be talking on the phone.... *shudder*

        Yeah--I don't understand how people can talk and pee at the same time (maybe this is TMI, but whenever I'm on the toilet, it's hard to concentrate enough to talk!); I get instant shy bladder when I hear someone talking in a normal voice because I feel like I'm suddenly in too exposed a place. :P

        I am actually tall for a female, but besides my mother-in-law (who is shorter by a tiny bit) and my sister (who is the same height as me), everyone in my family is taller than me.

        I'm probably the shortest, smallest person in my family, so certain siblings just think it's right for them always taking the seat with the most leg room, pushing it back in front of me so they get even more leg room (and I get even less), putting their smelly feet up on the seat next to my face if they're sitting behind me, piling their stuff in the extra space between us and letting it spill into my seat, lying sideways on the seat so I have to shove back hard if I want to keep their legs off my lap... argh! Come on! Why are our legs less deserving of circulation just because we're a few inches shorter?
  • There's a lot to be said for the explanation about community and consideration, and also what ithilwen said about social control.

    It's the other side of the medal of freedom/liberty.

    A few decades ago the community would have been so tightly knit that there'd be people around watching how you dress, when you turn off the lights in your apartment, what you buy for Sunday dinner...

    We're much freer today, even here where I live, in a 7,500 inhabitants, no one's counting how often I go to church (never), or if someone does, there's really no one who cares. The downside: I live in a house with ten apartments and I don't know the names of some of the tennants, and I only know a little bit more about one family, because the older daughter has been watching our cats during the holidays.
    • I wouldn't want to live in a community like that, though I'm sure I'd provide people with lots of fodder for gossip! :^P

      But a middle ground would be nice. Someplace where we can say "hello" to our neighbors and maybe know their names. Maybe even ask them to bring in the newspaper while we're on holiday. In my building of six apartments, I am on friendly terms with the guy downstairs and that's it. I didn't even realize taht the girl who lived on the ground floor had moved out until she'd been gone for several days, and I wouldn't know the people from the other two apartments if I fell over them. Now next door...I know their names only because when writing to the community manager to complain about them, I made it a point to be very clear as to whom I am talking about! (And I can hear them shouting at each other through the walls.)

      We're social animals bent on isolating ourselves. *sigh*
  • Partly I am wondering how different your culture is from mine. But I am raised and taught the manners you describe, but lately I have seen people older than me acting completely the opposite. I always hold the door for elder women or mommy's with a pram (even when I just past the door myself, it is easier for me to hold the door open for just a while longer). But when I was in my last month expecting Kevin, not many would stand in the bus offering a spot for me to sit. I think society has hardened in the trend like: you are not doing this for me, so I won't even consider doing the same for you. When I am at a shop or information desk I always say thank you and have a nice day when I am done. But maybe I also do this because I know what it is like to be on the other side of the desk. I always pick up my litter or make sure I can dump it in a bin. If I don't see the option, I keep the litter with me (in my own bag) until I can dispose it. Part of our house makes use of solar energy. I keep paper, glass and tin cans seperate from the garbage (yes that is a lot more work), so that they can be recycled properly.

    So yeah, here are mine:

    1. Bumperkleven (yeah a Dutch word because I don't know what it is in English). Those people who are always in a hurry and can't keep a proper distance from your car, riding up so close that their bumber nearly touches yours. No they don't care if you are already taking over others while driving on the left lane. Over here statistics prove that these drivers are responsible for a big deal of the accidents. You are in their way so move over (as if they are king or queen of the road). They don't care that they will be over the speed limit royally and will not shun flashing lights or threaten you if it doesn't go to fast to their liking.

    2. Drivers who constantly remain on the left lane on the highway (or the most outer left) when the right lanes are free.

    3. Drivers who take the emergency lane when there is a traffic jam, therefore putting emergency workers, police, fireman at utter risk by doing so.

    4. People who do not let people leave the train properly and climbing on board before people can step out of it. I usually grab them by the neck and drag them with me to the platform, firmly putting them on their place.

    5. Parents who throw in the prams or strollers with their kids to go first whereever they go. I mean... wtf???

    6. People who jump the que and cannot wait for their turn.. and start a huge drama if someone says something about it. I always wait for my turn and often offer others who are so stressed out by their agenda to go first. When I do my grocery shopping or well basically everything, I refuse to be ruled by a watch or timer. If I am late, I should have gotten up earlier or left home on time. Time Management is something you can learn.

    7. We have seperate lanes for bycicles and I simply cannot understand why people cycle on the left side of the road and forcing you on the pavement because they do not wish to ride on the right side because it takes them half a meter to cycle longer. We are not in the UK folks.

    8. Kids running around in a grocery shop and cutting off people who try to do.. their shopping? The past week alone I had jars falling on the ground from the stroller, kids slamming into Kevin's stroller simply because they think it is a playground and of course no: I am sorry m'am. I took my responsibility and paid for the broken jar. I often wonder how many people place back broken goods on the shelves. No I couldn't haul back the kids because they were already past the cash register.

    *pfew* ;)
    • Bumperkleven (yeah a Dutch word because I don't know what it is in English). Those people who are always in a hurry and can't keep a proper distance from your car, riding up so close that their bumber nearly touches yours.

      I think those are called "tailgaters" here... dunno if all English speakers use the same word, though... and yeah, those people suck!
    • Partly I am wondering how different your culture is from mine.

      I can't speak for American culture as a whole (since it's such a ginormously big country), but the Baltimore-DC-Metro area has a very me-me-me culture. People have an utter disregard not just for the comfort but for the safety of others. Too many people are in a hurry, putting their being on time for a meeting or soccer practice above safety on the road and common decency. This isn't everyone, of course, but it's enough to be noticeable and very, very annoying.

      I think society has hardened in the trend like: you are not doing this for me, so I won't even consider doing the same for you.

      Exactly. It's too "economical" a view, if that makes any sense. I mean, we're not talking money here. We're talking manners. It's possible to be polite without requiring reciprocity. Meanwhile, impolite behavior only makes it seem normal, for one, and makes others say, "Well, you're not doing it for me, so why don't I act rudely too?"

      And really, how hard is it to hold a door or offer a bus seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman? For me, it is second nature.

      Bumperkleven (yeah a Dutch word because I don't know what it is in English).

      We call it tail-gating around here, though I like bumperkleven much, much better. ;)

      And, yep, we have the same problem, not surprisingly. People in a hurry, thinking that if they ride my bumper, I will move over and let them pass.

      Usually, I will move to let a faster vehicle pass me if the person isn't riding my bumper. But once they start bumperkleven, we play a little game where I sloooooow down as much as I can. I'm in no hurry. If they back off, I speed up. If they creep up again: slooooow.

      When I still lived in the country with my parents, I used to take home a one-lane road that twisted and wound its way along a hillside. There were lots of tight, hairpin turns, so it was best to take it slowly. Of course, I'd been driving it for years, so I could move at a fairly brisk pace, but I understood when I got stuck behind a driver who wanted to drive it slowly. Anyway, there were some people who liked to zip through there and ride the bumpers of anyone going slower than they would. Oh, I used to love having fun with those people. We'd take the whole stretch at 15 mph/24 km per hour if they wanted to be that way. Between the two winding sections was an area was passing was permitted, so I used to floor it through there so that they couldn't pass. Well, if they backed off my bumper, we were just fine, cruising along at 40 mph/64 kph. Otherwise, we were creeping along.

      And not surprisingly, I agree with the rest of yours too (and I am giggling at the thought of you dragging people off of the train!) We have that problem with Metro sometimes where people crowd the doors and it's hard to get off, all so that they can be on the train three seconds sooner. WTF.
  • (no subject) - levadegratchets
    • Brava -- and I thought this disgruntled feeling was just me being grumpy.

      Oh, no, apparently a lot of people feel this way! :) It's just that people don't speak up about it the way that they once did. Often, I have found, when you try to do something about rude behavior, it is solved. I have seen people successfully have chatty kids removed from the movie theatre. And when I approached that reviewer who was being unacceptably rude to me about AMC, I got an apology. It sometimes feels like people say, "Eh, well, everyone else is doing so why shouldn't I?" and realizing that "Hey, this really isn't cool" can be a sort of wake-up call.

      There is a growing unrealistic sense of what people feel entitled to.

      Amen! Yes! Working in the restaurant for six years, I would be shocked at what people had the audacity to ask for. Like:

      Random Server: Can you do me a favor?

      Dawn the Cook: Depends on what it is.

      Random Server: Well, table 14 wants extra cheese on their fries but doesn't want to pay for it.

      Dawn the Cook: Too bad. You'll ring it in as extra cheese or they won't get it.

      Random Server: But--

      Now it takes some balls, I think, to go into a restaurant and say outright: "I want this, but I don't expect to pay for it." And I was very accomodating as a cook. If a server came back, for example, and asked if since a table wasn't getting cheese on their burger, could they have it on the fries? Sure. But to ask us to give them free food simply because they don't want to pay for it...it doesn't work that way, folks.

      Or the people who would come in, sit down, and say, "I'm in a hurry. Can I get my lunch right away?" ignoring the dozen or so other people also waiting for their lunches who are now going to wait longer while we drop everything to be at the beck and call of this one eejit. But once again...

      Dawn the Cook: No way, Jose. The ticket goes up with everyone else's, and it's going to take about ten minutes, so your guest can decide if it's worth her time to wait.

      Being vegetarian, I have to sometimes ask for food to be made special for me, and I still feel so bad. "Excuse me? Could I maybe just possibly get the chicken alfredo without the chicken? Please?" Which actually saves the cook time and the restaurant money, but I still feel bad.

      Oh well, hey did you hear about the latest scandal on E!

      Amen again. :) I remember that my f-i-l once made a really good point. When Lance Bass of N'Sync came out as being gay, people flocked to the news and Internet to get details on "OMG! Lance likes other boys?!" At the same time, soldiers are dying in Iraq, war was erupting between Israel and Lebanon...but "OMG! Lance likes other boys!" If only people put that sort of outrage and energy into something real.

      I don't want to be like them, frankly, but did your author have any suggestions for making the world a better place, or influencing those rude cell-yakking, bumper surfing people who annoy?

      I haven't read the whole book, just the online excerpt. I plan to see if the library has it and read the whole thing. (If not, I'll have to pony up a few bucks and buy it. *big dramatic sigh*) I'll probably end up making posts about it when I do, so I'll try to include a summary of practical suggestions for you. :)

      I've found that, for me, it helps to either say something to the person or take action against the person. Obviously, this can't work for every situation. For example, my next-door neighbors have a yappy dog that they would leave alone for most of the day with the windows open, and the entire community was suffering because the dog would get in the window and yap every time a leaf blew. I wrote a letter to the apartment managers, and it was solved. Or sometimes a person in a movie theatre with the yakkin'/laser pointer/cell phone ruins the whole movie for everyone because no one wants to be the bad guy and tell theatre management that the person needs to be removed.

      Other times, I tell the person themselves--as in the rude reviewer--and sometimes, maybe, occasionally get an apology and some sort of awakening. Maybe. But at least it might make people think twice before behaving like a heathen again. :)

      (Btw, I love your icon!)
  • (no subject) - levadegratchets
    • Are you sure we don't have the same next-door neighbors??

      I mentioned above the incident with the dog. They also shaved their dog on the front steps and left the hair strewn around the communal front yard. The guy is a freakin' lunatic who will be sitting in utter silence, then start whooping and yelling. Or have the TV/music up so loud that I can hear it as soon as I walk into the building (and we live on the third floor). And the other day, he was up and down those f***ing steps so many times, and each time he'd leave the apartment: *SLAM!* goes the door. Every few minutes. *SLAM!* Because it takes so much effort to hold the door for that extra split second to close it like a civilized person. Argh.

      Or stomping up the steps at 3 in the morning, shouting at the dog to be quiet. Then of course...*SLAM!*

      So, yeah, I'm in agreement here too. ;)
  • I agree that people talking loudly on cell phones at restaurants or in the car is super annoying, though I'm not super bothered by seeing someone with one. I think they are really rather useful.

    And yes, I really hate drivers who cut you off or w/e and act like it's your fault. Just last night my roommate was backing out of a parking spot and some other guy gave us the "watch what the hell you're doing, stupid!" look. HE had a stop sign, but nooooo, running a stop sign doesn't put you at fault. To be honest, I don't give a damn if some random idiot in a car wants do drive over the median and die, but it's the putting everyone else at risk that is most infuriating. *I* don't feel like dying today, and if I did, I'd certainly pick a way other than "car wreck".

    And kids in restaurants are my most hated example. My. God. Shut the f*cker up. I hate kids on a good day, so misbehaving/screaming kids drive me crazy. *I* didn't scream and cry and throw (or break) crayons in restaurants. People are way to easy on their kids. I was actually talking about drug education with my friend last night. Hell with "Don't do drugs because you'll do bad in school and you'll kill brain cells". If I have kids, I'm going to say, "Don't do drugs or else you'll end up like this!" and show them gruesome, awful, disgustingly graphic pictures. That'll teach them.
    • I'm not super bothered by seeing someone with one. I think they are really rather useful.

      I have one myself and agree that they're useful. :) However, I have developed a rather Pavlovian response to seeing people in public spaces with a phone shoved in their ear. ;)

      To be honest, I don't give a damn if some random idiot in a car wants do drive over the median and die, but it's the putting everyone else at risk that is most infuriating.

      Yes! That is always what I find myself thinking too! It is one thing to put one's own life in danger, but these eejits put everyone else in danger too. Let's see: Dawn in her Suzuki Esteem versus Starbucks-slurpin' soccer mom in an Escalade. Who do you think is going to win that one? And it's not like driving down the highway is deserving of such a hurry. So what if you're late to a meeting. Isn't that preferable to killing someone or being killed yourself because of carelessness? It always reeks to me of "My time is more important than your life," which is the ultimate selfishness, imho.

      *I* didn't scream and cry and throw (or break) crayons in restaurants.

      Piece story: During my (short) stint as a server, I was working a slow shift in the blue section in the back corner of the restaurant. I had one table: a mother out with her girlfriends for lunch and her little boy Colin. I even remember his name, he was that memorable. Besides throwing his food all over the floor, Colin also spent the better part of his stay running amuck in the blue section, climbing on the tables, opening the sugar packets in the caddies, and dumping sugar all over the tables and seats. Did his mother say anything? Of course not.

      And did she pick up the Cheerios/macaroni and cheese/hot dog rounds from the floor before they left? Of course not! That's what the "help" (i.e. me) got paid $2.38 an hour to do.

      When I was a little kid, I was terrified for some reason of restaurants with dim lighting. But if I started crying, my dad took me to the men's room, and I was given a stern lecture and a swat on the bottom. Guess what? I didn't cry in restaurants. (But I did see the inside of every men's room in Belair!)

      My parents also used to carry paper and pens with us so that my sister and I could write and draw while we were waiting. It kept us quiet and out of trouble.

      Of course, I doubt if kids these days would even know what to do with a pad of paper and some colored pens. I mean, we make vehicles with television sets in the back of every seat. In my day (Eru, I sound old; I guess this is my right after turning 25!), we used to bring books or see how many out-of-state plates we could spot or would find one unique thing on the roadside for each letter of the alphabet. Do kids do this anymore or do they just shut off their brains and turn on the TV? A few months ago, Bobby and I were having dinner at La Palapa, and there was a young couple with a little girl, and the little girl was actually watching one of those portable DVD players at the table. WTF?? I wasn't even allowed TV during dinner at home much less out in a restaurant.

      Argh. I've really rambled and gotten waaaay OT. Sowwy. :^P

      If I have kids, I'm going to say, "Don't do drugs or else you'll end up like this!" and show them gruesome, awful, disgustingly graphic pictures. That'll teach them.

      Would you believe that I did a project in uni on positive and negative forms of persuasion and teenaged drug use? And ai, I am getting old because I cannot remember the conclusion....

      But I can look it up if you're interested. :^P
      • However, I have developed a rather Pavlovian response to seeing people in public spaces with a phone shoved in their ear. ;)

        My roommate is the opposite of "normal" people. She has a cell, but never takes it anywhere. This actually annoys me because it means people always call when she's not around and I have to listen to its annoying ringtone. :P

        Did his mother say anything? Of course not.

        Woooow. This gets the WTF icon. I don't think my parents took paper to restaurants, I guess I was content with the cup of crayons and a kids menu! And the occasional kick in the brother's direction. ;)

        In my day (Eru, I sound old; I guess this is my right after turning 25!), we used to bring books or see how many out-of-state plates we could spot or would find one unique thing on the roadside for each letter of the alphabet.

        Haha, in "my day" too! Or at least activity books, because I get motion sick if I read in the car for very long. We would play the alphabet game where you had to find abc etc on road signs. And I slept, and dreamt and the like of nerdy little writers!

        Would you believe that I did a project in uni on positive and negative forms of persuasion and teenaged drug use?

        Really? Interesting...I keep applying my knowledge of animal behavior to humans. So, you out there who think people are not animals are wrong!! It's uncanny...

        What exactly do you mean by positive versus negative here?
        • What exactly do you mean by positive versus negative here?

          "Positive" persuasion against using drugs would be like the tactics used in some of the old D.A.R.E. campaigns. For example, I remember getting a sheet of stickers with cute little animals and cute little anti-drug slogans: "Hugs Not Drugs" and "Only Dopes Use Dope." Positive techniques make being drug free look cool or the happy place to be.

          "Negative" persuasion is mostly what is seen these days, but the old "Your Brain on Drugs" with the egg in the frying pan is a nice example. The anti-smoking posters that show a smoker's lungs and the TRUTH campaign involving coffins or Shards-O-Glass Freeze Pops are also examples too. Negative tactics are generally edgy or downright frightening.

          When I took my seminar on addictions and treatment (because my second specialization after PTSD was addiction treatment), my final project looked at which method of persuasion was most effective because cigarette and alcohol manufactuers get a lot of sales with positive tactics, yet most anti-drug propaganda is negative, particularly that which is seen these days.

          It wasn't the most interesting topic for me, which is probably why I don't remember the outcome of my research. What sticks in my mind most about that project was being the only student to give her presentation with overheads instead of PowerPoint! :^P
          • Ah, it's been so long since I've had DARE, that I've forgotten those stupid little sayings. I was trying to differentiate between "negative" and "super negative", which would explain why I had trouble doing so. :P

            I have seen the end-all of horrid drug pictures...Really the most grotesque thing in the entire world. That's what I'll show any kids I accidentally have to deter them from doing drugs.
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