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Tis The Season To Be ANGRY

I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping on Wednesday before grabbing some delicious Jimmy Johns, in the hopes of being able to save myself the headache of doing any sort of non-essential shopping between now and Christmas day.  I didn’t manage to get everything I had hoped for, but I am happy to say that it was a surprisingly pleasant outing.  Barely anything to complain about on the commute, and not a single issue to speak of in the stores.  So why bring this up?

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In both Target and Jimmy Johns, I did my normal “thank you so much” upon departure.  I placed my food order by beginning with “can I please get.”  I smiled.  I said “Merry Christmas.”  I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary (this is my typical behavior when out in the world, minus the Merry Christmas) and yet the cashier at Target and the two Jimmy Johns employees both seems genuinely shocked by my behavior.  Especially the woman at Target, who looked at me as if I was an angel who had just given her a million dollars.  It made me feel great and sad all at the same time.

I’ve worked retail; running the register, managing dressing rooms, straightening racks, dealing with returns, and more.  I’ve waited tables; smiling when I want to snap at a rude patron, cleaning up ketchup art from an unruly child, running food and grabbing condiments like a whirlwind, and finding myself in the weeds far too often.  I’ve worked in other places where I am the first and/or last person a customer sees, which very often means I am the bad guy if they have any kind of problem.  As a result, I’ve been yelled at, had things thrown at me, been talked down to as if I’m a nobody, and made to feel like I’m two inches tall.  It’s horrible.

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The people I encountered on Wednesday should not have been surprised by what I consider to be standard behavior.  But I do understand why they were thrown off.  Too often, I go out to order food (restaurant or fast food) and hear people say “I want” or “gimme” when ordering, then don’t even mumble a thanks when the food is ready.  I see cashiers berated when a sale item rings up wrong, right before having cash slapped onto the counter rather than handed to them.  I see the dejected look on the faces of employees as they watch a rude customer destroy the display they just worked so hard to straighten up.  I see servers cringe at the crucial moment they realize that the table they’ve been busting tail for is not going to leave them a dime for a tip.  Without any effort at all, I can find a rude and terrible person wherever I go.

The bad behavior gets worse around Christmas, without fail.  While in Target, I watched the clerk in the electronics section sorrowfully inform a woman that they were indeed out of stock of a certain game, only to have the woman snap back “well, you better call the store in XXXX and find it!”  And because the customer is always an asshole right, he gave her a weak smile and got on the phone to call the other location.  Totally unnecessary!  An equal amount of effort could have been expended by that insufferable wench by simply asking “do you mind calling the store in XXXX and checking?”  But because the holidays are stressful and she was likely running around like crazy looking for the game, she let her frustrations out on someone who damn sure didn’t deserve it.

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I suspect that many of you will be out this weekend, trying to cram in some last minute shopping before the 25th peeks its head around the corner.  In spite of my efforts, I’ll likely be right out there with you.  Considering my road rage, my intolerance for rude people, my tendency to be quickly annoyed by people who don’t move at my pace, and the fact that I’m slightly crazy, I’m going to want to cuss out half the people I see (if not more).  But I won’t.  I won’t tell anyone to move their ass so I can get down the aisle they’re blocking, I won’t tell the gaggle of cackling women to shut the hell up, and I damn sure won’t cuss out the poor cashier who is getting paid far too little to be dealing with so much nonsense.

Starting now, I ask you all to make a little promise to yourselves.  Don’t take out your crappy day, your personal issues, or someone else’s mistake on a person who is just trying to do their job and get you moving on to your next destination.  Your server doesn’t need to be yelled at because the restaurant wait puts you behind in your shopping schedule.  Your cashier didn’t write the return policy and doesn’t deserve to be the target of your wrath.  No one in the mall caused you to have a crap day at work.  It takes virtually zero effort to slap a smile on and remember basic manners, so just DO IT!

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You know what feels endlessly better than letting out a bit of anger on a stranger?  The knowledge that something you did turned someone’s entire day around.  I can recall many horrible days waiting tables and/or bartending that were made wonderful by a sweet person/party who either tipped well or treated me like an equal (or both).  I always remembered the retail customers who made eye contact, smiled, and thanked me for assisting them.  Those gems completely outshone the piles of horse dung that I’d come across, and I’m grateful for them to this day because they remind me that good people do exist.  Be one of those good people.  It’s the holiday season, so make it merrier while you’re out and about, and then carry it over into 2014.  People will thank you, even if you never hear them say it.

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Two Little Words

I’m very big on manners.  I was always taught to say please and thank you, call adults by their last name unless otherwise instructed, and to be polite to people regardless of their own attitudes and demeanor.  In the workplace, my need to be polite is magnified, as I have to deal with my coworkers in a friendly manner as well as deal with whoever may come in the office or call with an issue or concern.  It can be challenging, especially when people yell at me over the phone about things that are out of my control, but I make due and just make fun of them later in private or take a walk around the building to cool down.  It does take more effort to be nice at times, but I think it’s worth the effort.

I received an email this morning from one of my coworkers that just rubbed me the wrong way.  We have had a new person handling all time card entries for our civilians and this new person has been making mistake after mistake.  His paychecks are a mess, as well as everyone else’s, so he wanted to get copies of his time cards for the entire month of December in order to try to get his issues fixed.  I don’t mind getting these to people at all, but the way he asked just bothered me.  It wasn’t “can you get this for me,” it was “Need a copy of what I submitted.”  No “thanks” at the end, no “please” anywhere, nothing remotely polite.  Just “need a copy” with the expectation that I’d get right on it.

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I sat on the request for as long as I could, which was about an hour since I can’t stand to have things unfinished.  I sent the information along to him, expecting some sort of response.  Nada.  I know he’s here because he’s been sending me memo requests all day, along with follow-up emails fifteen minutes later to see if they have been forwarded to our branch chief.  If you can do all that, sir, the least you can do is type THANKS in a reply email and make me feel like I didn’t just waste my time pulling up documents that you should have already had and emailing them along to you.

An employee’s daily duties don’t warrant constant thank you’s, but it is nice to give them a nod in appreciation now and then if they are helping you out.  Everyone loves a compliment and it can work to increase productivity and lighten the mood.  When an employee does something that goes outside the scope of their duties however, especially when it’s in response to a request for help from you, you owe them a please when asking and a thank you when the task is complete.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the ask is, it needs to be presented politely and rewarded with a bit of gratitude.  It doesn’t even have to be sincere as long as it is said in some form or another.  Expecting heaps of praise after helping a coworker file some papers is silly, but you are well within your rights to expect and receive a thank you.

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Part of the reasoning behind the lack of thank you’s is that certain people feel that they are above other people, therefore they can make demands rather than requests and expect them to be fulfilled without another word.  Perhaps they have seniority over you, maybe they’re the head of their department down the hall, or they just might see themselves as more valuable than you.  Whatever the reasoning, this view of “I matter more than you” can cause people to forget basic manners and turn requests into demands.  Working your way into a position of power is something to be proud of, no doubt, but it won’t kill you to throw a thank you to the person who empties your trash every once in a while.  It’s not about doing it because you have to, it’s about doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

Another reason is that we’re simply used to rude people.  I’ve had more doors slam in my face than held open for me, I get bumped into more than I hear “excuse me,” and I get flicked off by drivers who cut me off in traffic.  It’s not surprising that we forget our manners in the workplace after dealing with rude people in virtually every other area of our lives.  It’s even forgivable in a way for someone who has dealt with angry customers for eight hours to then be a bit snippy with their coworkers.  That all said, it’s still the wrong path to go down.  Your coworkers shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re beneath you or as if they don’t matter just because you’re having a crummy day.

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As I was typing this, two emails came in for me, both requests to set up a total of eight teleconferences.  The request was as follows:  “I am trying schedule a teleconference.  [Dates, times]”  That’s it.  Broken English and all.  Honestly, I don’t need to get a bucketload of “pleases” to process something, but I at least would like it phrased “Can you schedule these for me?”  The one person in my office who requests the most and who is also busy as all hell always throws me a please and a thank you for handing her conferences.  Getting these two emails from my coworker just bummed me out.  I was planning on ending this on a positive note but now I’m left feeling as if there is zero hope of things ever getting any better.

At the very least, I urge you to take a minute and think about how you interact with people.  Do you say “get me ___” or do you say “can I get ____?”  Do you say thank you or do you remain silent, assuming a thank you was implied?  Are you generous with compliments and words of thanks or do you think it’s undeserved when people are “just” doing their job?  Are you happy with what you get from others or do you feel that you deserved a word of thanks after going out of your way to assist a coworker or supervisor?  Do you think that all of us can maybe do a little better than we’re doing now?  Will you make an effort?

Let’s GO!

What is it about unexpected long lines that turns intelligent adults into a pack of unruly toddlers who are late for naptime?  Plenty of us willingly stand in twisting lines with  sweaty strangers for over an hour so they can have the thrill of riding a roller coaster that lasts three minutes.  These very same people will pitch a fit about spending the same hour in line at the airport prior to their week long vacation.  Both lines have their annoyances and both are inconvenient, but because lines at the airport, bank, or office building aren’t a given the way amusement park lines are, we immediately get overly irritated at the sight of them and allow the irritation to alter our behavior and mood drastically.

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Humans are impatient creatures by nature.  When we go to a football game, we expect to be able to locate the one line that will fly through and get us to our seats the fastest.  When our speedy line comes to an unexpected halt, we begin to shift our weight from leg to leg, straining our neck to see what the hold up is.  We sigh and cross our arms, becoming angry at the unseen person or people who are holding up the process.  We contemplate switching lines and moving to our right as we silently curse at the people making it through the process quicker than we are.  We whisper complaints to our companions and roll our eyes, checking our watch or phone clock every thirty seconds to see how much time has been wasted.

The more annoyed we get at the delay, the worse our behavior becomes.  We stop caring about who we bump into, but develop a serious attitude towards anyone who dare bump into us.  We sigh loudly when someone annoys us, hoping they will hear it and hoping they will take a hint.  Our language becomes somewhat juvenile and we stop caring who hears our foul words.  Our vision narrows until the only focus is on ourselves; WE are important and WE have places to go.  Someone must be blamed so we begin hurling blame upon everyone else in line, the people checking bags or servicing customers, the handicapped who get to skip the long line, and anyone else who comes across our minds.

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As a person who is very easily made uncomfortable by close contact with strangers, long and slow-moving lines can be torturous for me.  Stick me in front of behind the woman cracking and popping her gum and it’s likely I’ll step out of line altogether to get away from the noise pollution.  Nearly every morning when there is a wait at work, I criticize the security guard checking IDs because of his lack or urgency and constant stopping of the line after every 6 or 8 people in a wasted attempt to clear out room by the metal detectors.  This morning, trying to get to my desk at the tail end of a fire drill where the entire building is evacuated, I was annoyed by the coughing woman behind me, the squirrely guy in front of me, and at every single person who line-jumped and didn’t have to wait in the cold as long as I.

It’s pointless, yet we seem to be unable to help it.  We edge up at traffic lights, getting closer and closer to the bumper of the car ahead of us, despite the fact that it does nothing to speed things along.  We glare at bank tellers and post office employees who are at their station but not helping customers, posting Facebook updates about useless employees as we wait, which makes no one go faster or open up a new register to assist.  The only thing we end up accomplishing is driving ourselves to the thin between sanity and mental anguish, some of us even taking that extra step and making a scene.  Which also doesn’t help anything at all.

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Other than avoidance or Xanax, there is no way to escape the dreaded slow-moving, disgustingly long line.  It will pop up when you’re running late, it appears when you’re trying to handle your screaming child, and it will make an appearance wherever and whenever it chooses.  It will force you into a confined space with a squeaky voiced woman blabbing away on her phone, a chubby guy chomping on sour cream and onion chips, and an elderly couple who takes an eternity to move a foot.  It will test your patience and will seemingly be encouraging you to engage in bad behavior in order to cope.

The best we can do is resist the urge to revert back to a juvenile state and simply feign patience and calmness until we make it to the head of the line and are free once again.  Accept that we are powerless to speed up what is going on in front of us and instead make an effort to be speedy ourselves when our time at the front comes.  Understand that every other person is as annoyed as we are and try to make ourselves an invisible part of the line rather than a blemish on it that no one wants to be near.  If everyone emptied their pockets well before metal detectors, respected personal space of others, and stopped acting as if they are alone in the inconvenience, the line WOULD move faster and would most definitely be more tolerable.

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The difference you’ll see if even a quarter of the people in line engage in this behavior will be minimal and will probably go unnoticed by most, but it’s a start.  It’s one step along the long road to getting society back to a more polite and pleasurable state.  It won’t change the world, but it will make a few moments in life easier for whoever is standing along in that line behind you, grateful that they’re not by someone picking their nose, screaming obscenities, or acting hopelessly unaware of the people surrounding them.  It’s a tiny way of leading by example that has the potential to create a snowball effect.  For me, that makes it worthwhile.

Forgotten Manners

My husband and I are borderline obsessed with all things Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and the round-headed twat that is Karl Pilkington.  We received a regional DVD player for Christmas and are now able to catch up on standup specials and both seasons of An Idiot Abroad.  On our road trip to Tennessee, we listened to nothing but their podcasts for the entire drive down, and we often listen in the car on the way to work or while headed home.  On this particular day, one of the topics of the podcast was etiquette and manners.  They brought up the classes that used to be mandatory that would teach a person proper posture, which utensils to use while eating and how to use them, and other basic mannerisms to be used in daily life.

Ricky Gervais and I share the same opinion on people who eat with their mouths open; he went into a tangent on how vile and disgusting it is to see someone eating with their mouth wide open as if the world is dying to see their half chewed dinner.  He said his ideal restaurant would be one that was empty except for him.  Totally ridiculous proposition but I am also totally on board with him.  Go to a Mexican restaurant and you have countless people chomping chips with their jaw nearly unhinged, filling the room with the deafening sound of crunching.  One time at Applebee’s we were seated near a girl who was eating her salad the way you would see a squirrel munching on lettuce, only minus the cute factor.  Do I have to bring up the way people eat popcorn at a theater?  In public, people smack their food, lick their fingers, and generally act as if they had been living in a cave for years and are just now able to go out into public, unsure of how to act or what is proper.

It’s not just the eating habits that have convinced me that manners are a thing of the past, but it’s the general behavior of people one encounters every day.  At work, it’s a rarity I get a “thank you” for holding a door open for somebody.  This morning, I had to press myself against the wall because four people coming down the hall the opposite way refused to move to let me by.  Just after they passed, a woman shoulder bumped me after she and her group also refused to budge to let me pass, no “sorry” or “excuse me” or any effort to get out of my way, even though she and her companions were rudely blocking the hallway for everyone who was simply trying to get their workday started.  At my desk later, a man stood slurping his coffee loudly as I worked, then left the office with his coffee cup still on my desk, leaving a lovely ring.  Restaurant patrons, in both fine dining and fast food, treat the person serving them as a lowly servant and demanding things rather than simply asking “can I” or may I.”

The way we treat people around us is just disgusting.  I absolutely think that it’s important to put yourself first in life and ensure you and your family are taken care of and free from harm, but I also think this can be done without putting anyone else out and without becoming a hindrance to those around us.  Take personal phone calls in the office for example.  Your coworkers are attempting to do their job in the most efficient and stress-free possible way.  Should they be forced to listen to a 30 minute one-sided conversation while you plan your child’s wedding or schedule kitchen repairs, or should they be forced to miss you for a bit while you step outside to a break area or to your car to use your cell phone?  If you forgot to clip your nails before work, should your coworkers have to witness you clipping away at your desk, held captive at their own as you groom yourself, or should you sacrifice a couple of minutes at your desk and at least go to the restroom?  It’s slightly inconvenient to have to adjust your behavior in public, sure, but it’s even more putting out to be the person that is minding their manners but still forced to deal with people who can’t keep their vile and annoying habits in check.

It’s odd, but I encounter better behaved people at rock/metal concerts than I do in my office, in any given grocery or clothing store, movie theaters, malls, my former neighborhood, parking lots, medical offices, buffets, or just those you encounter while traveling from point A to B.  For some reason, the people who are thrown together with the common interest of whatever band is on stage also (mostly) all have this mutual respect for each other and manage to behave like civil and decent human beings, even with the alcohol and whatever other substances are thrown into the mix.  If a bunch of lunatics smoking weed on the lawn while headbanging to Seether can manage their behavior, why can’t everyone else?

I don’t consider myself to be old-fashioned, nor do I think I’m easily annoyed.  I wasn’t brought up in an anal household where I was made to eat without dropping a single crumb or dirtying even a corner of my napkin.  I didn’t undergo extreme etiquette training that has now made me into an intolerant person.  Quite simply, I just expect to be able to go through life without bumping into a rude and thoughtless person around every corner.  I’m considering asking Ricky Gervais if my husband and I can move in.

Get Out Of My Bubble Please!

I’m anything but a morning person.  The minute my alarm clock goes off, my mind starts coming up with reasons for me to call in to work and go back to sleep.  My love for a hot shower is overshadowed by my hate of being awake before the sun has risen.  I can’t quite conceal the bags under my eyes and always fail to mask my exhaustion no matter how sharp I can get my makeup to appear or what direction I comb my hair.  Once I’m halfway decent looking, I tend to the overactive dog and cranky child.  My husband generally wakes around this time and his reluctance to get out from underneath his blanket makes me want to crawl under one myself.  When we finally pile into the car, it’s a 40 minute drive to our boy’s school and then to work, dodging mopeds and slow drivers and hoping not to catch every red light or the train along the way.  We stagger through security and collapse at our desks, mine on the first floor, my husband above.  And then the fun begins.

There is no shortage of awful people in the large government building we work in.  My husband recently posted a blog about behaviors that are unacceptable at work, behaviors we both tend to witness more than we should have to.  This morning we got in early and I beat both my boss and my office nemesis, not-Paula Deen, in to work.  Our drive was stress-free for once and I was feeling optimistic about the day until not-Paula opened the door and filled the quiet office with her shrill voice and cackling laughter.  Her cell phone, volume on high, began to ring and she immediately came over to my desk even though hers is just five more steps (or waddles in her case) in the other direction.  She throws both her bags onto my desk and begins rifling through one, small items falling out and clanging onto my desk.  She finally finds her phone and begins a loud conversation; she is one of those people who fails to understand that technology has advanced and you don’t have to shout into phones to be heard.  I stopped working on my current task and turned around to attempt to murder her with my stare.  I failed to do that but I did succeed in getting her to piss off and go to her own area.  Hardly a victory since I doubt very much that it crossed her mind at all that she was invading my personal space and behaving in quite a rude manner.

I’m big on having my personal bubble go unviolated.  My husband can invade it freely as noted in our marriage license, my close friends are another exception, and of course the family I get along with and my pup dog are welcome.  Coworkers, strangers, simple acquaintances, and store employees however must remain outside of my bubble unless I verbally grant them permission to enter.  I don’t think it unreasonable to not want foreign bodies near my body or not want other people’s belongings in my work area.  I get that my desk happens to sit in a public area of the office and I expect people to make use of the group of chairs to my right or to stand to my left and wait for my supervisor to be free.  I do not expect people to get in my face, use my phone without permission, reach over me to grab paper clips, or to throw their crap on my desk without even asking “is it okay if I set this here for a minute?”  Not-Paula knows I can’t stand her bloated face and gossipy ways, obviously she also knows I don’t want her in my space, but like many people in this building she lacks the tact and respect for others that prevents the average person from imposing on someone else’s space.

I’m starting to wonder what happens to a person’s mind after they work in this building for a certain amount of years.  It’s a weird group phenomenon that takes place with bad behaviors; one person will decide it’s okay to use nail clippers at their desk which leads to 4 or 5 people clipping their nails in the office.  One woman will begin taking loud personal calls during working hours and soon half a dozen people are yakking away to their friends while you struggle to have an actual work related phone call.  There is a mess in the bathroom which makes others not feel guilty about leaving their own mess behind as well.  It’s like a horrible game of dominos.

A behavior going unprotected does not mean the behavior is acceptable.  As much as I’d love to politely tell not-Paula that her constant gum cracking/popping is incredibly distracting and to please tone it down, I know that the only thing that would come out of it would be her whining to my supervisor about how mean I am and me having to have another “talk” with him and be told to try to ignore her.  People have hung signs in the restroom about the filth, but they’re eventually torn down and the mess just multiplies.  No matter what policies are put in place or what rules are laid out, people act how they want to act and oftentimes that means they act like pigs and jerks.

My hope is that there are more people who think the way I do in the world; people who eat with their mouths closed, thank those who hold doors open, treat drive-thru workers with respect, and are quiet during movies.  People who give a damn about how their actions affect those around them.  I hope not-Paula falls off a cliff, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect her space and property.  My personal feelings for an individual (or lack thereof) don’t dictate my behavior and don’t justify me acting like an ass; coworkers are a captive audience and an office should strive to be a place of peace, not treated like everyone’s living room or bedroom.  I shouldn’t ever have to hear my husband tell me that the guy next to him is frantically Q-tipping his ears in the middle of the damn office rather than at least excuse himself to the restroom to poke around in his orifices.

In elementary school (or preschool for some), we are taught manners that we are expected to carry throughout our lives; please and thank you, eat with proper utensils and with a closed mouth, wash hands after using the restroom, and so on.  The things we learn as a child should stay with us throughout our lives, not be dropped and forgotten during our years of teen angst.  I stopped going to church years ago, but I recall being taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated, and I believe that’s a lesson that should stick regardless of your religious preferences.  Hopefully my actions will inspire others to act better and be mindful of others.  In the meantime, if you plan on engaging in rude and obnoxious behavior, know I am silently judging you in person now and openly mocking you with my husband and proper friends later.  You damn dirty pig.

Manners Are SO Last Year!

My husband and I have the absolute worst luck in this galaxy when it comes to going to a movie theater and having a fully enjoyable experience, free of interruptions and chaos.  Last weekend we went to see Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.  Aside from the technical difficulties the theater experienced while trying to show the film and the loud popcorn crunchers that we’ve learned to expect and accept, we had a group of talkers and laughers behind us who kept up their personal soundtrack throughout the movie and two teenage boys who were chronic phone checkers and put on a light show for everyone in the bottom section with their smartphones.

I’ve given up hope that the world will ever learn to chew their food with their collective mouths shut, so my husband and I tend to attempt to find spots to sit in theaters where we’ll experience the least distraction.  What I shouldn’t have to tolerate are the people who pay to go to a movie only to ruin it by talking through the whole thing or who can’t stand going an hour without updating Facebook.  This extends outside of movie theaters to virtually every place imaginable outside the house.  At work I am currently blasting Korn on my iPod to drown out a woman cracking her gum, a man clipping his nails, a girl loudly chomping Cheetos, and a couple of men having a loud conversation about meeting girls online.  At work.  Yesterday while driving home we almost hit a guy who was more interested in his mail than he was about being in the way of oncoming traffic.  Prior to that we had a golf cart wait in a driveway until we were nearly on top of it before it pulled out directly in front of us, causing us to slam on our brakes.  People encountered while trying to walk will make zero effort to get out of the way for you, regardless of the fact that they and their 5 friends are blocking the entire hallway.  Grocery store patrons will run you down or bump into you rather than say “excuse me.”  I’m at a point to where I’m shocked when a child says “excuse me” or “please.”  In short, people have become assholes.

I’m not that old at 30, but I find myself thinking “When I was in high school, I wasn’t a douchebag like these kids” or “Do they not teach manners anymore?  Because I was taught manners in school.”  I feel like the world I grew up in has vanished, replaced by rude thoughtless little pigs who run amok without a care in the world or a vague understanding of courtesy and respect of others.  Somewhere along the line, society quit giving a damn about anyone and everyone around them.  We don’t say please and thank you anymore because we’re expecting to receive things when we want it and how we want it; there is no room for niceties anymore.  If we’re walking, anyone in our path is in OUR way, not vice versa, so they had better move because we’re not side stepping or saying “excuse me.”  Children and teenagers act as if they walk on water, adults act as if everyone surrounding them is worth less than dirt.  It’s disgusting.

The part that worries me the most is that people like me seem to be the minority.  People who still believe in manners and respecting the personal space and boundaries of others, who give a “thanks” for the person holding the door for us and do the same for the person behind, who don’t walk around as if we’re the only one who exists and/or matters.  Instead we are now overrun with people who believe that those around them should both tolerate and accept their bad behavior, be it the gum popping cow I work with or the people who refuse to silence their cell phones in theaters or doctor’s offices.  For some reason, the rude actions of one person snowball and soon enough everyone in the office is cracking their gum and no one has their phone on silent.  Kids see their parents ramming into store patrons and figure that they are allowed to do so as well.  Pretty soon we have a nation of assholes promoting their asshole behavior and making people who are considerate of others feel like outcasts.  No wonder other countries call Americans fat pigs.  We are exactly that.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have no desire to surround myself with people who choose to act low-class simply because it serves their needs better.  There are a lot of people in this world and unless you decide to become a hermit or that weird rich guy who lives on the corner and is never seen leaving his house, you’re going to be forced to come into contact with other members of society on a daily basis.  You’re going to be put in social situations where you’re comfortable and situations that you can’t wait to escape.  There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for acting poorly around others when it’s so easy to be respectful.  Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.  Understand that public places demand different behaviors than your living room and make the proper adjustments.  Try and think of things this way before doing them:  If someone was doing ____ around me, would I be okay with it?  If the answer is no, Don’t Do It.  Have some pride in yourself and put your best face forward when out in public.  Otherwise, stay home.

This Is NOT Your Living Room

This weekend, my husband and I took full advantage of being child-free and got caught up on movies.  Friday night we went to see Priest at the theater near our house, Saturday we spent the day in Castleton, doing a bit of shopping in between watching Bridesmaids and Fast Five.  We had originally planned to see Scream 4, but apparently somewhere along the line, someone decided that movies should be out in theaters for the shortest time span possible, so we’re forced to wait for Scream to hit DVD.

Priest was enjoyable mainly because I don’t think Paul Bettany is capable of doing something I don’t like.  I can see why it didn’t do so well, but my husband and I had a great time watching it.  Bridesmaids was hilarious (Kristin Wiig may be my new favorite female actress/comedian) and Fast Five was awesome (The Rock vs. Vin Diesel.. need I say more?) but as far as the people we were in the theater with for those two, you would have thought we had gone to see Rio; those crowds were as fidgety and restless as a kindergarten class who skipped nap time.  Even during a bad movie I’d have to be near death to leave my seat while the film is playing, yet for both of these movies, people were going out and coming in CONSTANTLY!  This wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the chicks with horribly loud flip flops on, but regardless it is always an unwelcome distraction when people can’t sit still.

I’m on twitter and I like to post random garbage on there that no one cares about, so I understand that people want to get on Facebook or twitter or wherever and talk about the movie or being out with friends or how the popcorn made them gassy.  But come on, people, can’t it wait until the credits are rolling?  About ten minutes into Fast Five, the chubby girl in front of me whips out her phone and gets on Facebook mobile.  I assume she was posting about how unnoticeable her double chins were in the dim theater lighting.  The entire right side of the theater was lit throughout the movie; at least half a dozen idiots had their phones out and were posting or playing or just being obnoxious jerkoffs.

I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again:  Popcorn is a bite sized food.  Since it fits nicely into your mouth, there is no reason whatsoever I should have to hear you chomping on it so loud that it overtakes the movie soundtrack.  It seems simple to me to eat properly, especially in public.  Pick up popcorn, open mouth, insert popcorn, CLOSE MOUTH, chew, swallow, repeat process.  Why people always forget to shut their lips is beyond me.  Just know everyone can hear you and everyone thinks you’re a disgusting pig.

Somewhere along the line, people stopped respecting the personal space of others.  In a crowded theater, I expect that I’ll probably have a stranger next to me and/or not be able to set my jacket and bag in the chair beside me.  I expect to have people immediately in front or behind me.  In a fairly empty theater, there really isn’t any reason for you to sit on top of me or get in my space.  My husband and I were settled in when a group of four came in and entered our row on my side.  Eventually, one of the ladies makes it down to a seat 1 away from mine.  She asks me “Is anyone sitting here?” gesturing to the seat next to mine that was holding my hoodie and bag.  I responded “um… no.”  She then pulls her jacket off her lap and places it on top of my stuff while asking me “Oh, mind if I share?”  YES I do mind, lady!  There are 4 totally empty rows in front of us and half a dozen totally empty rows behind us.  There are plenty of seats to the left of your party.  Why, in such an empty theater, would I want you to put your junk on top of my belongings?  For all I know, you’re a crazy hoarder and your jacket is covered in fleas and mold.    Second, like I tell my son all the time, you don’t ask permission for something that you’re ALREADY DOING!  Throwing your shit on top of my stuff WHILE asking me if you can do it is pointless.  You might as well just have brushed my things onto the floor.  When the theater is crowded (or on it’s way to getting there) I always put my stuff on my lap and IF there happens to be an empty chair next to me when the lights go down, I put my stuff there.  If the theater is pretty empty, then yes, I claim that seat next to me and I expect you to stay the hell away from me and from my stuff.

At the beginning of every movie, the theater shows little clips that tell the audience in the nicest way possible to turn their cell phones off, keep your feet off the seats, and please don’t talk.  It’s sad that they have to do this.  It’s even worse that people still don’t understand that you need to be quiet during a movie.  If you absolutely have to talk, whisper whatever super important bit of information it is in the person’s ear so you don’t disturb anyone else.  Preferably though, you will wait until after the movie.  Do you think anyone paid $8 for a ticket to come hear your thoughts on what the main character is REALLY thinking about?  Does your friend (and the unfortunate people around you) honestly need to know that you think the guy 2 rows ahead of you is super dreamy hot?

No.  No one needs to know.  No one cares.  During Fast Five, Chubs McGee, her sidekick Napoleon Dynamite, and her “I act like a lesbian because it makes boys like me” friend didn’t keep the annoying behavior to simply switching seats, updating Facebook, and pretending to make out while wearing sunglasses.  They talked the entire movie.  It wasn’t just them either; there was a group to my right and a group a few rows up that got our theater confused with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and figured that the entire audience was there to hear their thoughts on Paul Walker’s acting (epic as always, his talent unsurpassed by anyone) and how OMG their car can TOTALLY do that!  I don’t get why these dimwits are even wasting their money to come see a movie that they aren’t even watching.  I don’t know when people forgot how to behave in public and stopped giving a damn about anyone else in the world.  The theater’s security popped in eventually (10 minutes left in the movie… thanks for the awesome response time, guys) and told one group to quiet down or be ejected.  Bottom line, if you can’t keep your trap shut for a couple hours, wait 3 months and Netflix the damn movie and talk all you want in the comfort of your living room.  If you’re in the theater, shut the hell up.  I’m seriously in danger of turning into this guy if something doesn’t change:

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