Monday, April 29, 2013

Kindergarten For Grown-Ups

As anyone who follows the blog surely knows by now, I'm not fond of society.  But you know what?  I still follow some basic rules of decency when it comes to interacting with other humans and humanoids (not sure if all of them are truly humans).  Society as a whole I have a beef with, but I find that when engaging an individual one-on-one I typically don't have a problem, unless of course said individual is a roaring douche.  It happens, but for the most part, I do actually like people if I get the chance to talk to them a bit.

Don't worry, I'm still going to complain about something!  It seems to me like our society at large has completely forgotten simple lessons of courtesy that we all learned in kindergarten.  This problem seems to be exacerbated when more people are present in small spaces.  You could take a bunch of people who are smart, thoughtful, and polite under normal circumstances, pack them into a crowd, and then you've got anarchy.  And not the good kind of anarchy where everybody is free to farm, hunt, and take care of themselves without interference from a bureaucratic monster of a government.  The bad kind of anarchy where everybody looks like an over-the-top punk from an 80s movie, and they all break stuff for no good reason.

Here's a few examples of some pretty simple concepts that the masses can't quite seem to grasp or choose not to grasp.  Whether you're ignorant because you truly don't know any better or because you've decided that ignorance is bliss (then why are you miserable?), it doesn't matter.  Any people behaving in the manners which I'm about to describe could benefit greatly from a kindergarten refresher course.  The rest of us would also benefit.

Lesson #1: How to Form a Line

This is very basic stuff.  Something that pre-kindergarteners can manage.  Yet as soon as people are old enough to drive themselves to the store, this lesson disappears in a puff of stupidity.  At larger grocery and general stores, this isn't a problem, because there is a built-in aisle system that forces people to pick a line to stand in.  But at smaller convenience and department stores the register is often located at a small counter with no set direction for customers to form a line in.  And people just can't be bothered to take responsibility for even the simplest, most menial tasks, such as standing and waiting in an orderly fashion.

Seriously.  How hard is this to understand?  If you get to the register and there's somebody already there, stand behind them.  If there's two people already there, stand behind the second person.  And so on.  Yet countless times I've approached the counter of a store to find that the line is branching in two or three directions.  I just don't get it.  And I can't decide who made the more idiotic choice: the person who walked up to the line and decided to start his own line, or the person who saw this jackass and decided that his line was going to be the better line and chose to stand behind him instead of with the rest of the people who have a fundamental understanding of line-forming.

This inevitably leads to that moment when everybody starts shuffling around asking "Who's next?"  There's usually at least one instance of two people taking a half-step toward the register at the same time, pausing awkwardly, laughing awkwardly, then each taking another half-step before insisting that the other goes first.  The person who ends up going first feels guilty about this for some reason and crumbles under the pressure of being watched by the rest of the people in the eight lines that have inexplicably been formed to get to the same destination.  The pressure causes this person to fumble with her purse, fumble with her wallet, fumble with her 'club card', fumble fumble fumble.

In situations like these, the area around the register should enter a state of martial law with the clerk in absolute control.  Who gets to go next should be based on who actually got there first, but since the herd of humans clearly had no interest in orderliness, the clerk can decide on a whim who gets served.  "Hey, dude, sweet mustache!  You're totally next."  Or, "Yo, assface.  I'll ring you up when you're done obnoxiously yelling into your cellphone."

This could all be easily avoided if we'd just remember that, once upon a time when we still believed we could grow up to be astronauts or the president or maybe even the president of outer space, we all knew how to form a single-file line.  Just because we all grew up to realize that the only jobs you can actually get are shitty ones doesn't excuse us from following one of the most basic lessons from the easiest grade of school.  It's not even a grade.  It's before first grade.  It's grade zero.  By being unable to form a line, you're acknowledging that you're less than zero.

Lesson #2: Don't Cut in Line

During the "Who's Next Shuffle" mentioned in Lesson #1, there's almost always some dick who swoops in and tries to cut in line during the confusion.  I can almost say I don't blame the guy for trying to take advantage of a moronic situation, but his actions usually just cause more delay.  Somebody will point out that so-and-so was in line first.  So-and-so will feign surprise.  "Really?  Me?  I was here first?!  I've been chosen to have my microwave burritos and antidiarrheal tablets rung up next?!"  Again, this should never happen because adults should be capable of creating a single line.

Where line-cutting really irks me is in traffic.  There's two instances that come to mind immediately.  The first happens each and every time I drive through a construction zone on the highway in which one of the lanes is closed off.  Here's how it undoubtably goes down:  Everyone is driving on the highway, listening to "Thrift Shop", and going the normal speed (about 15 to 20 over the limit).  The tell-tale signs of construction start to appear.  Literally, signs that tell you there's construction ahead.  One of them proclaims that the left lane will be closed.  Most people, the types that have even just a shred of intelligence, take the opportunity to move into the right lane at least a few hundred yards before the left lane is blocked off.  But there's always some jackass, usually several, who refuse to do this.  Instead, they opt to stay in the left lane until their front bumpers are practically touching the white-and-orange barrels.  And then it's our problem.  Now everybody who made the sound decision to move into the right lane early has to wait as the assholes plow their way into traffic, because for some reason they feel that we owe it to them to let them into the line.  The person they cut in front of has to slam on the brakes.  The person behind that car has to slam on the brakes.  Every fucking person in a mile-and-a-half-long line has to slam on the fucking brakes because some ignorant shit-skull made a stupid decision.  Every once in a while there should randomly be a bed of thumbtacks, nails, and broken glass twenty feet in front of the barrels.  I'm not encouraging anyone to do this, but, you know, that would be great.

The second instance of line-cutting that makes me grind my teeth occurs at traffic lights.  Yeah, it sucks when you have to make a left-hand turn, there's no arrow, and there's like thirty cars in line to go straight on the opposite side of the light.  Tough shit.  You don't have the right-of-way, get over it.  But for whatever reason the left-turn sneak has become a thing.  You know when it's going to happen because the person making the left will start inching out like a baseball player attempting to steal third base while the light is still red.  Also, they refuse to make eye contact with the person directly across from them because they know, deep down, that they're behaving like an asshole.

Boom!  The light turns red and they screech into their turn just seconds before the oncoming traffic rushes through.  Is it really worth the risk?  Is that forty-five seconds you'd have to wait before making the turn really that important to you?  Like I said, it sucks to be in the situation where you have to make the left, but it's not an excuse to behave like that little jerk who had to cut in line in the school cafeteria to be the first to get his delicious helpings of mushy tater-tots and green beans that are the wrong shade of green.

I'm all about trying to be polite and putting others before me, but in that situation, the person making the left is demanding that thirty people wait so they can get somewhere a few seconds earlier.  This is not what our society is supposed to be about.  Decisions should be made for the good of the whole, not for that one impatient douche with a passenger-side door a different color than the rest of the car.  Hmm... What happened to the original door, guy?  Did it get smashed when you swerved in front of a rush of oncoming traffic so you could get to the convenient store a few seconds earlier and form a second line at the register?

Lesson #3: Hold the Damn Door!

I don't care if you're an elderly woman who can barely walk or a knucklehead with a popped collar who insists on ending every sentence with "Brah!"  I'll still hold the door for you if you're walking into a public place behind me.  It's an action that requires little effort, takes two seconds, and makes me feel good about myself by letting the rest of society know that not all of us are bitches and bastards.  But quite a lot of people are content to announce that either they think they're more important than the person behind them (they're not) or that they're completely oblivious to what's happening around them. Both of these are heinous statements to make about yourself.

Surprisingly, the most frequent offenders (from my own experience) are middle-aged men.  You know, the guys who complain that every generation behind their own is made up of rude punks who are causing society to go to hell in a hand-basket.  News flash, chump!  Your generation played a major part in steering our country onto its current path of shittiness, Journey sucks, and your behavior just shows everyone that you're a hypocritical fart.  The second most frequent offender tends to be young adult females who seem to think Jersey Shore is the height of culture.  At least I expect discourtesy from this type of person.  I don't expect cows to write poetry, and I don't expect orange girls to hold the door for me.

Unless you have two broken arms or no arms at all, there's no excuse not to hold the door for the person behind you.  Old women with walkers have held the door for me.  Dudes in wheelchairs have held the door for me, for crying out loud!  And I'd even bet that a person with no arms who prefers to go to the store alone rather than depend on somebody else would hold the door with a foot or the telekinesis they developed after the bizarre accident that cost them their arms.  If these people can take a few seconds (and a bit more effort due to their unfortunate circumstances) in order to be decent to another human being, there's no excuse for you not to do it.

Look, the world is overpopulated and it's only going to get worse.  Although I often feel like I don't quite fit in with the rest of society, I understand why we have basic rules of courtesy, and I try to follow them to make everything go as smoothly as possible.  Yeah, a lot of times when I'm out of the house I'd rather be back at home, and I'd like to get their as quickly as possible, but I refuse to act like a jerkoff who can't follow basic concepts, even if it means arriving home will be delayed by a few precious minutes.  If a grumpy, ranting blogger can extend the courtesy to act decently, then you can too.  If you can't follow these simple lessons, it's time you pull your head out of your ass, realize that the universe does not revolve around you, and go back to kindergarten to learn what you're already supposed to know.

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