Quote of the Day: “Everyone should just be quiet and uncomfortable. Avoid eye contact. Look pensive. Don’t trap me in your stupid convo where you say “I’m in the elevator so I might lose you.”” –Aubrey Leigh Goodwin, explaining in the funniest line of the week how offensive it is for someone to use a cell phone in a shared elevator
As fate would have it, TB was on the road today driving back and forth through the Mississippi Delta for work in Greenville. I love driving in the Delta. It’s a great place to think. Somewhere near Onward I got to cogitating on the subject of etiquette. Particularly road etiquette at first, but then my mind naturally turned to other instances where if people would just act right, life would be so much more enjoyable. My mind moved on(ward?) to other subjects, but somewhere in the back, it kept the issue of folks actin right working in the realm of subconsciousness. Then I walk in the house, fire up the laptop and see Aubrey Leigh’s poetic rant staring back at me from her Facebook page. It seemed like a sign. I should publish an essay of etiquettalia you ought to know if you were raised right. And so I shall, but don’t be offended if you don’t know all of these. So long as you long ago figured out the majority for yourself, you can feel safe your folks performed the task of raising you well.
Cell phone etiquette is a perfect example of something your parents could not have taught you, unless you are really obnoxiously young. But if you were raised up right, you know not to talk in the elevator. And Aubrey Leigh’s description of appropriate elevator behavior is so perfect I cannot hope to improve upon it. But it’s not the only place you must put your phone away. One of the worst places to talk is on an airplane before it takes off. A quick buzz that the doors are closing and your arrival will be on time is acceptable, but only if you speak in a muffled murmur and make it snappy. I can tell you from experience there is nothing so boorish as to wait until you board a plane to pull out your new flip phone, turn your head toward the center aisle and begin to loudly boast to your phone of the deals you closed today, all the while running your fingers through your overly moussed hair, winking at the flight attendant as you ask for a double Jack Daniels and ostentatiously kicking off your Bruno Maglis. Do not be this dude. And for pete’s sake, and mine, don’t talk on your cell phone in a restaurant with metal or better cutlery. As a matter of fact, silence the damned thing in all these places.
Speaking of airplanes. If someone is reading next to you, do not speak to them except to excuse yourself from the row or to alert them the wing is ablaze. Do not rearrange the overhead baggage without asking those around you if they mind. So long as you ask, they don’t. Don’t recline your seat in coach for a one hour or less flight, and don’t ever recline it if its not absolutely necessary. I swear some people lean back just because they want to push the button. It really adds nothing to your comfort level. But it sure as hell makes it worse for the poor guy behind you. If you are on a three seat row, the middle guy gets two armrests. When its time to deplane, wait until everyone ahead of you has gone, but let no one pass whose seat was behind you unless you want to start a riot. And when you get to the terminal, keep moving. Do not stop to make that call you somehow managed to hold off on in the plane about all the deals you closed in the middle of the walkway. Finally, those moving walkways? The airport ain’t Disneyland and those things ain’t rides. They make you walk faster, which is how you walk in airports. Fast.
What started this train of thought was a vignette I participated in while leaving Greenville today, the reason for my later cogitating near Onward. I happened to be astern of an old pickup coming out of Hardee’s where I’d been on the phone with a client. There was a lot of traffic and no light and the old codger ahead of me seemed content to just wait until the traffic passed for good–probably around midnight tonight by my estimation. But some kindly soul held up traffic for just long enough for the pickup and TB to pull out. The old man was busy listening to his AM/FM radio though and didn’t see the gesture. So I gave him the lightest tap of the TB horn to get his attention and take advantage of the opening. Ok, stop. That’s a double lesson–first, the person who let us out was obviously a scholar and a gentleman, to say nothing of being well bred. And TB’s light horn tap is an example of the second move in the well mannered waiting driver’s arsenal. The first is to pull up a few feet in hopes the movement shows in the front vehicle’s mirror and gets him rolling. Had he ignored the light tap, I’d have had no choice but to lay on the horn louder and longer, but thankfully, it seldom comes to that. Anyhoo, lest you think the old man was raised by wolves, he appropriately gave the sheepish wave in the rearview mirror to me and the two finger “thank you” point to the man who let us out. As did I. All of this happened over the course of about 5 seconds, but the fact that all involved showed such grace gave TB a warm feeling for my fellow man in the soul. If only it were always so.
It’s late, so I guess covering only these few areas will do some good. God knows if a higher rate of folks would show some better cell phone and airplane, and driving manners we’d reduce anti-depressant usage in this country by at least half and probably do serious damage to Al Queda’s terrorist recruiting efforts. But before I sign off, I’m wondering….how many of you caught it? To borrow a phrase, there was a slight breach of etiquette in my driving incident of good feeling. You see, the original kind driver who set all this into motion (ain’t life strange?) bent the rules when he held up traffic to let not one, but two cars out in front of him. The rule is to let out one car. Someone behind you is responsible for the rest of those folks. But being that it was in TB’s favor, I appreciated the intent, and to save the scholar from getting a light horn tap from the guy behind him I sped into the opening with alacrity, something you must always remember if faced with a similar situation. At least if you were raised right.