Monday, March 16, 2009

The Common Courtesy Crusader: MYOB

I don't know about where you live, but in South Florida we live on top of each other.

The South Florida motto should be "leave no piece of land undeveloped!" Tim and I were on our way to the beach this weekend when I noticed a square of undeveloped land. "Look," I said, "open space." Three hours later there was a Super Target in that space. True story. Fine, it was six months later, but still.

My point is that wherever you go, whatever you do, you have a 99.9% chance of being within earshot or elbow range of another human being. Here's my sage piece of advice for this week: MYOB. Mind Your Own Business.

If someone is on their cell phone in a public place, takes a personal phone call at work or is searching WebMD at a public library, please have the common courtesy to at least pretend you have not been minding their business.

Example 1: Back before I was cool enough to have my own office, I was part of cubeland. Once upon a time in cubeland, a close friend of mine called in a panic, needing a friend and some advice. After I talked her through her current crisis and hung up, the idiot who sat in the cube in front of me wandered back to my desk. "So," he says, nonchalantly, "helping a friend plan a shotgun wedding, are you?"

Are you effing kidding me? Is this your first day among the civilized? I am perfectly aware that everyone in a four cube radius more than likely heard my conversation, but in the polite world everyone pretends they have heard nothing and goes about their day.

Shortly after the above incident, Tim called and asked a question of somewhat sensitive nature. "You sure you want me to answer that?" I ask. "Yeah, why?" "Because I sit in a cubicle. There are at least three people listening to every word I say, and the asshole in front of me is probably taking shorthand notes."

Example 2: I'm in Super Target (a.k.a. the modern day Mecca), doing my weekly grocery shopping and talking to Liz. I'm complaining about the stuffy nose and immense amount of boogers that have been plaguing me for weeks. I feel a tap on my shoulder. "You might want to try Zicam," a probable well-meaning co-shopper says. Helpful? yes. Ridiculously intrusive and extremely weird? Double yes.

Example 3: Taking advantage of the free wi-fi that comes with having a registered Starbucks card, surfing the net for possible one-year anniversary vacation destinations. Dude next to me peers over and says, "I wouldn't recommend that cruise line. I had the worst experience with them back in 1982 when one of the waiters dropped an entire tray of mai-tais on my will-never-be-in-style white deck pants..." Umm...I forget...did I ask for your effing advice and life story? No.

I realize that there is a second side to this coin. Plenty of you are frothing at the mouth with the desire to play devil's advocate. I know your argument: If you don't want your conversations, internet searches or personal hygiene choices to become public fodder, don't air them in public.

Yeah. I get that. See above where I noted that in South Florida we live on top of each other. Oh, and welcome to 2009, the age of technology in which we don't have to be chained to rotary phones in our kitchens in order to communicate. I don't necessarily think that talking on my cell phone while I wander the aisles of the grocery store is rude. I think it is modern multi-tasking. We could debate the level of rudeness involved if I were to remain on the phone while in line, and then during the length of my transaction. It's debatable, so I'm not going to go there.

All I'm saying is that in the age of growing technology and lessening personal space, mind your own business.

Or at least pretend to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Please Drive Through


Today I might have been a common courtesy offender, but I will let you be the judge.

And I swear (on stack of bibles and my Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection) to retell the events exactly as they happened from my non-biased viewpoint.

8 a.m.

I approach the Starbucks drive through line. (Greatest innovation ever.)

A car in the line has hazard lights blinking, and the driver is standing next to the car with rear door open, holding what appears to be a baby. (Could have been a bundle of blankets. Who's to know?)

I watch as the driver waves a Hummer around her.

I assume (yes, I know what it means) that the woman is having trouble with either the car or the baby, and assume she is "stepping out" of line. I take up the space behind the Hummer, leaving more than enough space for an additional car behind me.

Less than a minute later, the woman (sans bundle of blankets) is knocking on my window.

Why did I roll it down, you ask? Obviously since I was on line waiting for coffee, my brain was not yet functioning.

"Excuse me," she says in that oh-so-endearing and entitled Boca Bitch manner. "I'm in line. I gave her (gesturing toward the Hummer) permission to move ahead of me. Not you. You took my place in line. Move out of line."

"Oh, you're in line? Out of the car with your door open and your hazards on?"

Admittedly, a bit snippier than may have been necessary, but I have an innate dislike for the Boca Bitches of South Florida. (It could be its own reality TV series. The Real Housewives of Orange County 'aint got nothing on these she-monsters.)

"I was attending to my four month old, who is now unbuckled, thanks to you. You need to move out of the line."

I'm still confused as to why you put your hazards on and got out of the car if you intended to stay in line."

"Listen, I'm trying to be nice," (It is sooo hard to convey facial expressions and general bitchiness in a blog post, but I assure you, nice was the furthest thing from what she was portraying.) "What should I have done, just let someone hit my car with my four month old inside?"

"You don't exactly seem all that concerned about her right now."

"Get the fuck off the line!"

I could have been just as bitchy. Argued with her. Rolled up my window and ignored her. Called the cops to report her for leaving a four month old unattended and, by her own admission, unbuckled so that she could be a bitch to a complete stranger.

But I reasoned that her husband was probably cheating on her since the four month old ruined her Boca Bitch figure, and without her daily dose of Starbucks she might soon shake that poor baby to death.

So I got off the line and went inside to place my order. And then took great satisfaction in the fact that she was still on line when I walked out with my coffee.

As I said: you be the judge.

But please keep in mind the utter self control invoked on my part.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Today when I arrived in the parking garage, the green Mitsubishi was perfectly parked between two lines in one space.

I absolutely take full responsibility for this.

I was tempted to leave a thank you note, but I decided that might border on stalking.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Common Courtesy Crusader!

I'm hearing a lot about niche blogging. Pick a topic. Stick with it. Increase your readership. Blah blah blah.
But I gave it some thought and I wondered, what subject could I consistently blog about?
The animals, duh, but that only goes so far.
Writing, of course, but who I am to consider myself enough of an expert to offer others advice? I'm arrogant, but come on. At least publish something before you tout advice. (And by publish something, I mean have something published by a respectable publisher. Not your blog. Not your self-published POS novel. Not some short story published on an online journal with a readership of five. Don't even get me started on some of the idiots who consider themselves published authors. "I got another story accepted by an online publication no one has ever heard of!" It's like expecting people to be awed that you got into community college. Dude - they let everyone in.)
Relationships, because mine is perfect and I think everyone could learn a few lessons from Tim and I? Again with the arrogance.
Fashion? Those who are familiar with how I dress and what my hair looks like are laughing themselves out of their chairs right now.
Money? Ditto the above statement regarding my finances.
So what could I niche blog about?
Then it hit me.
I have an extraordinary amount of pet peeves:
Here's the niche part. I would say about 90% of my pet peeves deal with a lack of common human courtesy.
Please. Thank you. You're welcome. Let me get the door for you. Is it so effing hard??
So, while I am not overturning the entire theme of this blog (which is whatever the hell I want it to be on any given day) I am instating a regular edition to the blog entitled The Common Courtesy Crusader! It's my way of attempting to make the world a better place.
Today I performed my first official act as The Common Courtesy Crusader. Allow me to tell you about it:
Prime space in my office parking garage is limited. If you do not arrive in the parking garage before 9AM, you are pretty much screwed and forced to park on the roof where your car bakes in the sun all day.
Also in my office parking garage there are several parking spaces next to concrete walls and dividers. (No, I have never scraped one trying to fit into a tight space. Never. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
I completely understand the desire to err on the side of safety so that you do not scrape these concrete structures, as I have never done.
However, erring so far on the side of safety that you take up two parking spots? Every day? Selfish! Rude! Discourteous!
Most mornings I just stew about it, and contemplate keying the offending car, but today I decided to take polite action. I left a note. A nice, polite, courteous note.

Dear Mitsubishi Owner:

Perhaps you are unaware that you take up two parking spaces on a rather regular basis, and that by doing so you lessen the already limited available space in the parking garage? I'm sure you would not do something so inconsiderate purposely. Therefore I am bringing this issue to your attention in the hopes that in the future, you will manage to park in one space, and one space only.
No I didn't sign it, do you think I have a death wish?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Picture of the Day: Ball Python vs. Dining Room Chair

More often than not when I am responsible for Hydra, she has more fun. Tim hates it when I let her do stuff like this, but she loves it. (In this particular instance he was afraid I wasn't going to be able to disentangle her from the chair. It took me less than 5 seconds. She's fairly cooperative if you let her explore for a while.)
Of course, there was the one time I let her loose on the couch, got involved in watching TV, and panicked when I couldn't find her. Turns out she had slithered along the back of the couch and come face-to-face with Azrael, sleeping peacefully in his scratching post/throne. I still shudder to think what would have happened if my vicious killer had woken up and found the cold-blooded nuisance in his face.