It may be because I'm getting older, but lately it is the smaller social transgressions that are most prone to drive me to fury and distraction. The average person may not be able to fight City Hall, or slap vapid celebrities into submission, but one can take responsibility for one's own actions and behavior. Anyone can conduct themselves with a measure of respect toward one's fellow beings and pay a little homage to the Golden Rule. It's easy. Just takes a little mindfulness. And yet it's done less and less. Grown-ups curse loudly in public parks when surrounded by dozens of impressionable kids. People receive phone calls and text friends while in theatres and moviehouses. People spit.
Will the following list of minor crimes against civilization change anything? No. Will it make me feel better? A little. Is it worth the time and effort? Probably not. Whatever. Here it is. Have a nice day.
You are severely subtracting from the general quality of life on this planet called Earth if you are guilty of three of more of the following. Except for the first. Guilt of that alone makes you reprehensible.
1. You cut in line.
I'm not going to equivocate about this. If you cut in any line—at the grocery store, the airline check-in, the taxi stand, the queue for Mr. Softie—and it is not a Grade A emergency, you are a douche bag. You are the worst sort of person and any right-thinking mother would express regret at having given birth to you. This includes people who form "additional lines" at various places of business; those characters who hover near the front of the line and pretend not to notice there is a queue, and then make their move when people aren't watching; folks who only have a "small thing" to take care of, and apologize to all for going to the front of the line; people who don't queue up, but bunch up near the front in no apparent order, as if the concept of a line had not yet been invented and had never occurred to them; people who clearly aren't next, but call out their order when the counter man says "Who's next?"; and people in cars who inch up to the front of a long stream of autos waiting to exit or merge, and then prevail upon the kindness of some driver to let them into the lane.
You suck, people! You know you suck. Your time is no more precious than that of the citizens you passed over. Your needs are no greater. You're impatient, selfish, careless, no-account scofflaws, and St. Peter will keeping you waiting in a holding pen if you ever make it to Heaven.
2. You react with indignation and become aggressive when people catch you skipping in line.
These perhaps are actually more repugnant that the ones who are guilty of only number 1. Unfortunately, those who perpetrate 1. almost always perpetrate 2. I've rarely met a skipper who, when caught in the act, is contrite. Typically, they lash out into a stream of expletives.
3. (Men mostly here) You do not rise and offer your seat on a bus or subway when a pregnant woman or elderly person enters.
No matter how often I see this happen, it never fails to make my blood boil. There are few more flagrant examples of penny-ante inhumanity. Two riders: you're lazy; the other may collapse from exhaustion. And yet you sit. Insult is added to injury when a woman, seeing no men volunteer, is forced to give up their seat for the needy passenger. Sullen male youths are the worst offenders. They usually pretend not to see the woman or elder.
4. (Again, for men only) You take up more than one seat on the subway or bus.
I don't care what you've got between your legs—It doesn't require another seat! For many young men, the spread-legs position appears to be a sort of passive-aggressive challenge to the world, daring the population to demand they sit up straight. Asking them to make way almost worsenes the situation, because they always do so unsmilingly and with great effort.
5. You and two or more of your friends walk abreast on the sidewalk.
Here's something that may not have occurred to you and your buds: other people use the sidewalk. People just like you. It's true. Why, there may even be some on the very block you're striding down. Hey, look out! They might actually be right behind you! How'd that happen, huh? And why are they so made at you?
Whether you're the cast of "Friends" and the Swiss Family Robinson on vacation, keep it single file in New York City. You can chat when you get to the Starbucks or Subway or Red Lobster or wherever you're headed.
6. You dispense of your cigarettes by throwing them to the ground.
Tossing a butt to the sidewalk and walking away only looks cool in the movies. In real life, it creates litter and causes small fires. And pisses people off. It's this sort of behavior that compelled Bloomberg to make you guys second-class citizens.
7. You do not take tax and tip into account when ponying up your portion of a restaurant or bar tab.
It doesn't matter how innocent a look you slap on your face. You and everyone at the table knows what you did, and they resent you for it.
8. (Drivers only) You enter the box of an intersection when there is no space for your vehicle on the other side of the crossing, and the light is yellow.
In a just world, the law would allow passengers to scramble with our dirty shoes, cleats, boots and strollers over the hoods and roofs of cars the block the crosswalk.
9. You do not return an e-mail within 48 hours.
And no, I don't fucking care how busy you are! If you can not handle the flow of e-mail, you can not handle your job. And I'm not talking spam or junk offers. I mean legitimate inquiries related to what it is you do for a living. You're no busier than the person who sent you the e-mail. I promise you. It's just your ego that's a little more active.
10. You do not refill the ice trays when you empty them.
A petty concern. I admit it. Until you open the freezer on a hot day looking to cool down your luke warm glass of water and find all the trays dead empty.
11. You are peeved by this list.
You skip in line regularly, don't you?