Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Random Acts of Rudeness: 10 Ways You Might Not Realize You're Being Rude

People are rude.

Maybe it's because I was born and raised in the South where people are super friendly and hyper polite, but I'm sensitive to impolite behavior.  (Or maybe I just don't like people so I'm always looking for a reason to be offended... which is probably truer than I want to admit to myself... although I will readily admit that I don't like people... mostly because they are rude.  It's kind of a vicious cycle.)

I'd like to believe that people aren't rude on purpose, that they just aren't aware of their rampant discourtesy, or they are distracted with their own personal thoughts, or they were abandoned by civilized people at the moment of their birth and raised by a pack of vicious wild dogs.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but everyday a piece of me becomes more convinced that rude, selfish, narcissistic people constitute the vast majority of humanity.   So as a public service to my fellow human beings, I offer this list of incredibly rude behavior that I encounter on an almost daily basis.  Read it and heed it.  Together we can make the world a better place and fight the rampant breakdown of all things good and decent and courteous.

1. The lost art of the turn signal.  Maybe you're bopping along to your favorite song cranked up loud on your car stereo, too distracted to remember that there are other drivers around.  Or maybe you're busy with the cell phone call from your best friend while she complains about the hooker shoes So-And-So wore to the club last night.  Or you're 9 months pregnant and you have to pee so badly you can hardly think, let alone drive.  But it only takes a couple of extra synaptic sparks to hit that handy lever on your steering column and communicate to surrounding drivers and pedestrians your intentions to maneuver your 4,000 pound speeding metal death machine.  Most of us haven't mastered the art of telepathic communication, and body language is lost on us when it is masked behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  So the turn signal is a super polite way to communicate with your fellow drivers and cut down on incidents of road rage.  To not signal before a turn or lane change is just plain rude, not to mention incredibly dangerous.

2. Are the sidewalks made of hot lava?  While we are on the subject of creating dangerous road conditions, let's discuss one of my biggest personal pet peeves: pedestrians who refuse to use the sidewalk.  Seriously people, those sidewalks aren't there for decoration.  Drivers have enough to worry about what with oncoming cars and answering their latest text message and flipping stations on the radio, and forgetting to use their turn signals, that they really shouldn't have to dodge those suffering from the irrational fear of sidewalks.  Maybe we should just drive on the sidewalks.  There would be a lot less pedestrian traffic.

3. It's okay to look up from your cell phone.  I mean, especially when you are ordering a meal or checking out at the grocery store or really anywhere that you are encountering a human being.  I realize that your text messages and twitter accounts and funny cat memes are oh-so-very important.  I also realize that the person ringing in your order probably makes only slightly more than minimum wage and therefore probably isn't worth your time or attention or civility (that's sarcasm, people), but they are indeed a person.  Look up from your electronic tether and actually make eye contact with that human being who is serving you.  They are offering you their time and attention (even if their employer is buying it for $7.25 an hour), the least you can do is offer them yours.  I promise that it is more than okay for you to treat human beings in the customer service field as actual people.  They probably don't get that much, and besides... it's good karma.

4. Mind your Ps and Qs.  I still baffles me that grown adults forget the basics of common courtesy like saying "please" and "thank you".  This is the basic of the basics when it comes to manners. And when people forget them it is a glaringly ugly display of disrespect.  It's actually pretty rude to not say "please" when ordering your morning coffee or asking your waitress for a refill of diabetes-laden soda or requesting an account balance from the bank teller.  And likewise the absence of a "thank you" when your handed that coffee or refill or balance may not totally make you look like an inconsiderate douche bag, but it's pretty close.

5.  Hold the door.  Not just for your lady friend that you are trying overly hard to impress with your chivalric skills, but anyone who is entering or exiting a door at or near the same time you are.  Letting that door swing shut behind you is tactless.  It will only take a few extra seconds for the person behind you to get there, I promise (unless the person behind you is a crippled old lady in a wheelchair... in which case you should probably hold the door for her anyway).  And while you're at it go ahead and make eye contact... connect with your fellow human beings.  Maybe even smile.  And if someone holds the door for you, you'd better say, "thank you" (see #4).

6. Move your shopping cart.  I mean, at least push it to one side and don't leave it smack dab in the middle of the path to the Oreos.  I mean the thing has got wheels just to make it more maneuverable so there's really no excuse.  And if you've forgotten something, those wheels make it easy for you to turn that sucker around and go back and get that all important pack of paper towels you forgot.  Don't just leave it blocking shopper traffic.  And those wheels make it super easy to roll that thing right over to the cart return when you've finished with it, too.  Nothing makes me madder than a lonely stray cart left unattended in the only available parking space within 150 yards of the door... especially when it's raining.  Seriously, pushing your shopping cart back to the return is part of your civic duty.  Leaving a stranded cart is completely rude and pretty un-American.

7. Turn down your music.  I don't care how utterly cool you think your tunes are no one at the gas station or the McDonald's parking lot or the stop light wants to listen along.  There is a beauty to cruising around with the windows down in gorgeous warm weather, but if you're blaring 50 Cent's latest masterpiece and the F-bombs are flying, I promise you that the elderly couple in the Buick next to you is not impressed.  Nor is the mom with her three kids strapped into the back of her minivan who will have to define the N word to her five year-old when she gets home.  But even if you're blasting Celtic flute tunes, I promise you that you're still being rude.

8.  Don't let your kids run wild.  I'm all for allowing kids to be kids, but standing on the table Irish dancing at Golden Corral or knocking down innocent shoppers while playing a one man game of hide-and-seek in the racks at Target is a little extreme.  Expecting kids to behave in socially appropriate ways in public is the first step in ensuring they become adults who behave in socially appropriate ways in public.  This world could use more people with a little more home training.

9. Wear clothes that fit you.  I'm talking about extremes here.  If you have to keep one hand on your drawers to keep them from falling down around your knees, or if your 38 DDs are monopolizing all the available space in the room even though you attempted to squeeze them into that vacuum-tight blouse, not only is it a slap in the face of fashion, but it's an awkward visual insult to everyone but the legally blind.  I don't want to see your butt cheeks or your bosoms flapping in the breeze.  Honestly, there is little on this earth more disturbing than looking up from an engaging conversation with a friend only to realize that the only thing separating you from some strange guy's butt crack is a paper-thin threadbare pair of dingy cotton boxers.  (shudder)

10.  Cover your pie hole.  It really doesn't get any more basic than this, but it still happens all. the. time.  It really doesn't take that much effort to raise your hand to cover your mouth to keep your personal germs personal.  A disgusting spray of snot and spit and bacteria and unknown viruses launched into the air is just plain gross.  There is not enough Lysol and hand sanitizer in the world to make me feel clean after witnessing an uncovered cough or sneeze.

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