Pet peeves pertaining to public common courtesy


Well, looks like my tenure as a Vanguard columnist has come to an end. Perhaps you’re thinking, “And they rejoiced, yeah!” or, “Good riddance!” Fair enough. In true self-aggrandizing fashion, though, I wanted to end with the same topic as the very first column I ever wrote: common courtesy.

The following is a sequence, a list of observations, behaviors and situations that I’ve either personally experienced or been subjected to, and I don’t have a good segue here.

Have you ever been out somewhere with someone and they have their faces planted in their phones, endlessly scrolling, as you’re trying to talk to them? And as you keep talking they say, “uh-huh,” or “huh” or “I’m listening?” That’s so discourteous.

I usually try to say something off-kilter like, “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?” or, “The Phantom Menace is by far the best ‘Star Wars’ movie,” and then trail off. The other person eventually realizes and apologizes, which is a very courteous thing to do.

Another place rife with discourtesy: spoilers. Spoiling a movie that recently came out, such as “The Quiet Place,” would be lame. The obligations of daily living – school, work, etc. – get in the way of finding time to make it out to the theater. That’s understandable. I think if it’s beyond a year and a half, if you really wanted to check something out, you probably would’ve. Right? If you had any interest in seeing “Get Out,” I think you would’ve already seen it by now. It’s been over two years.

For TV, it’s a bit different. It takes time to complete a show. With discussing shows that recently ended or that are still airing new episodes, it’s courteous to ask, whether in person or in a group chat or wherever, if people have seen that particular show.

Though, with that said, for someone like me who is an avid TV watcher, I still haven’t seen the original “Twin Peaks,” but if it were spoiled for me somehow, while still discourteous, I’d be less mad about it because I’ve had a lot of time to try and watch it and I never did. You still shouldn’t ruin “Breaking Bad,” though.

In a situation where someone orders a pizza and somebody else says they’re not hungry but then eats a slice or two anyway and doesn’t chip in, you get to ask them a question: If you weren’t hungry, why are you eating the pizza? Explain yourself. C’mon!

Ideally, while it’s not really courteous to fart in public, if you absolutely have to release gas in class, at least own up to it. If you supplied it, don’t deny it. If somebody else smelt it, of course that doesn’t necessarily mean they dealt it. Maybe they didn’t, you know? The implications of the “whoever smelt it, dealt it” line of reasoning suggests that the culprit is so devious and nefarious that in the ensuing investigation into who dealt it, they’d try to throw people off the scent, so to speak. Don’t try to topsy-turvy the situation like that.

I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to hold one in, continuously, for the duration of a three-hour class period (the little SOB was nothing if not persistent). Every time I held it at bay, just when I thought I had vanquished the enemy, it came back somehow stronger and more determined, like the Jason Voorhees of farts. Somehow, I prevailed and managed to prevent a gas leak.

But should it have occurred, and the people in the surrounding vicinity turned to me and said, “It was you, wasn’t it?” I would’ve replied with, “Yes, t’was I.” And I would’ve apologized. I’d much rather go through that experience then have those same people saying things behind my back. That’s admittedly a dangerous place to be, anyway.

While it makes sense to keep quiet during gas leaks, I think owning up to it, and for others to be less judgmental about it, fosters a greater sense of fellowship and understanding. It happens. It could happen to you. Tomorrow or the next day, you’re just a bad meal away. But I say, if you must detonate, then explicate.

Lastly, while we’re on the topic of bodily functions, please, for the love of everything holy, step up your bathroom game, folks! I’ll never be able to get over people’s lack of bathroom hygiene. Toilets and urinals should be flushed. Actually wash your hands with soap and water. That’s how these things work.

These are just some things that I think people could do to better enhance day-to-day interpersonal interactions.

I just want say, it’s been my privilege. Thank you to the editors for putting up with me (and shout-out to Ky for hiring me). And, of course, thank you to the readers. There wouldn’t be a paper without readers. Reading is probably the most courteous thing someone could do for a newspaper.