Category Archives: Etiquette

Walk the Right Way!

In the United States, we drive on the righthand side of the road, and we have many other standards of right of way.  Yes, that’s obvious.  We do this to keep traffic flowing with a minimum of crashes.  The same rule applies to sidewalks and store aisles.  Walk on the right side.  Don’t pull out into the aisle until you’ve looked to see if someone is coming.  Don’t park yourself in the middle of the path to answer the telephone or read your shopping list.  Pay attention to the people around you.

Can’t we all just move along?

Comments, Please!

In a response to my article on Somali pirates, I received the following comment:

“Alan stewart says:

2011/03/04 at 01:07

Your remarkable lack of knowledge is surpassed only by your baboonish sense of your own bravery. It might be best if you confined your opinions to whether coors light beats bud.”

My policy about comments has always been that anything that isn’t obviously spam (thank you, Akismet) will be accepted, and I’m not changing just because of an idiotic remark.  I didn’t promise not to lambaste the same.

The problem with the comment that I quoted is that it tells me nothing about what the writer objects to, other than me.  He claims that I lack knowledge.  I’m sure that I do on many subjects.  I tend not to write about such matters.  If Mr. stewart believes that I’m missing information, he ought to tell me specifically what it is.  Otherwise, the comment is useless.

I’m not being merely defensive here.  stewart’s comment has taught me nothing.  I have not been convinced of the error of my ways.  He did not carry the conversation forward; he shut it down between the two of us.  As such, I fail to understand why he commented in the first place, other than as a schoolyard taunt.

Of course, I know that my regular readers have much more class, and I’m grateful to you.  Anyone who wishes to dispute me is free to do so without editing, but I do hope that such comments will show detail and good reasoning.

If you’re curious, here is my response:

“Greg Camp says:

2011/03/04 at 04:55

Rather than toss insults, would you care to explain your objections? It’s easy to accuse someone of lacking knowledge. It’s more difficult to list the facts that appear to be missing. You knew what a letter of marque is, it seems, and I know what it means. That’s an item of shared knowledge. But will you really begrudge me a bit of bravado, especially as an aside at the end of the article?

Regarding beer, if it must be Budweiser, I’ll take the real one, made in the town of Budweise in the Czech Republic. America’s most popular brews were best described by Monty Python–like sex in a canoe: fucking close to water. My choice when I can get it is a British ale, Fuller’s ESB, for example.

By the way, since they’re proper nouns, Bud and Coors need to be capitalized.”

I hope that I wasn’t being peevish in correcting his slovenly use of capital letters.

Park It!

Have you noticed the parking lot schlub who sits waiting near the entrance of a lane because other customers have just reached their cars?  This obnoxious person blocks the path for even minutes on end, snarling traffic throughout the lot, to get a space that’s close to the door.

I understand that some people need easier access to the store, but for those of us who are not physically disabled (as opposed to having a moral disability), there’s nothing wrong with parking farther out.  I’m sure that none of my readers act boorishly, but to those others who do, think about this:  If you park at greater distance, you’ll get a little exercise that will extend your lifespan.  That way, you can annoy the crap out of decent human beings for that much longer.

Feel free to print up this idea as a flyer and leave it on the windshields of offensive drivers.

Theater Etiquette

Even with plasma televisions and surround sound, I enjoy watching movies in a theater.  Having written that, though, I must add that my enjoyment is often marred by the audience around me.  It seems that boorish behavior has become the norm.  As going to a movie gets more and more expensive while Netflicks, et al. are an easy alternative, I may end up staying home from now on.  I do want the group experience of watching movies to continue.  It’s one aspect of our modern secular American religion, something that unites our increasingly fragmented society.  But as with any religion, watching movies needs to have its own rules as to how we act, so here are my suggestions:

1.  Watch the entire movie.  This means get there before the movie starts (avoiding the annoying commercials is permissible, but the previews are for your benefit).  I don’t want to see you scrabbling along the aisle, and I don’t want you stepping on my feet.  The overhead lights are on before the movie starts for a reason.  In the same vein, wait until the credits are finished.  Credits are part of the film, and watching them gives due respect to the creative people who entertained us for a few hours.  In addition, credits are an education in the process of filmmaking.  Even marginally aware movie-goers know actors and directors, but the end of the film shows set designers, score composers and performers, linguistic aides, and many others, along with the locations of filming.

If you must break this rule, please enter and exit unobtrusively.  You are not the show.

2.  Be quiet.  Laughing, crying, and gasping are acceptable, of course.  Some directors and editors anticipate those reactions as they plan the pacing of the film.  But I did not pay my seven dollars to hear your conversation on the telephone, your struggles with bags of plastic-wrapped food, your commentary on the film, and other such distractions.  As I wrote, you are not the show.  If you want to be the show, write, direct, produce, or star in your own film, and the rest of the world will let you know if you have any talent.

If you must speak to your neighbor (who wants to hear you), whisper in the person’s ear.  The term is sotto voce.

3.  If you bring it in, take it out.  This refers to food and drink items specifically.  If the floor in your home is sticky and covered with crumbs, that’s none of my business, but the movie theater is a public space.  Human beings have lips.  This allows us to keep our food in our mouths.  We have risen above the level of brutes, and when we eat in public, we need to demonstrate this.  Also, don’t leave trash behind.  I am not your servant, and I don’t want to clean up after you.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

4.  Work silently.  I write this one to the theater employees.  Just as my fellow audience members are not the show, neither are the workers.  When you are cleaning up, do your job, and don’t spend the time socializing.  Certainly don’t start your cleaning before the movie has ended, and don’t stand around in the room gabbing.  I paid for the movie, not your personal life.

I have complained about this twice to managers at the Malco Pinnacle Hills 12 Theatre in Rogers, AR, but nothing has been done.  It’s no wonder that the audience behaves badly when the people running the business permit it.

As I wrote, technology is giving me options for seeing movies that spare me from the boorishness that I’ve described.  Theaters that want to stay in business need to address these problems, and those of us who go to movies need to act as though we aren’t barbarians.