By Eliska Counce, TSB Contributor
You are so rude.
Okay, so maybe not you specifically. But someone may think you are. Did you see the recent reader poll that Travel & Leisure magazine printed naming America’s rudest cities? Of course you didn’t. Who can afford travel and/or leisure in this economy? But I digress. According to the poll, the Dallas/Forth Worth area is the sixth rudest city in all of these United States. And the rudest Southern city, to which I take particular umbrage.
No surprise to me New York took the top prize. Insulting one another is how New Yorkers show love. If you can make it in New York, evidently you can make it in federal prison. Miami was number two. Does a lack of clothing make you rude? DC was next: quelle surprise. For proof, all you’ve got to do is watch a little Sunday morning talk where politicians bring rudeness to an art form. Los Angeles was fourth. I can imagine all that Botox, silicone, and bleach can angry up the blood. And fifth? Boston, which evidently often can be mistaken for one large drunken hockey brawl.
And then there’s sixth: our Dallas/Fort Worth. At first I thought I’d handle this problem of being named sixth rudest city in America the old fashioned way: blame it on Fort Worth. But then, I thought: No. I have been put on the Earth to be a Wayfinder, a Mender (thank you, Martha Beck). It is my charge, nay, my duty to help clarify for the good citizens of North Texas how and why you are rude. And more importantly: how you can stop it right now.
Cell phone etiquette. I have no desire to hear about the drama between you and your Junior League while I am trapped in line with you in Target. And can we embrace the idea of using our indoor voices? Because I can hear you yelling to your friend about your husband’s irritating foibles in the health and beauty section while you’re in electronics. And check that puppy one too many times when you’re supposed to be eating with me? The back of me hand.
Littering. Fast food restaurants have trash cans. Your mommy is no longer here to pick up after you. No one wants to throw out the empty cup you left in the grocery cart. Stepping on your discarded gum makes me highly stabby. If you smoke, put your butt where it belongs. Don’t throw it out your car window. The reasons are twofold: one, my world is not your ashtray. Two: you can set things on fire. Duh, as the kids say. This is Texas. We are entirely flammable.
Verbal abuse. I can’t stand someone who goes off verbally on someone who can’t respond. Like a supervisor berating an employee. You truly can tell someone’s character by how they treat their subordinates. Or worse: a customer going off on a clerk, cashier, or waiter. Terrible karma, dude. Also: swearing loudly in public. Now, I play it blue sometimes. But not in front of kids or other people who may not share my love of four, five, and six letter words. Meh. What can I say? I have a limited vocabulary.
You have a baby. In the bar. If the word “Pub” is in the name of the establishment, it is best to leave the kiddies at home. I hate to cramp your style, but get a sitter or stay at home. News flash: people drink and cuss in bars. Kids have their own restaurants, and they’re called McDonald’s. They’ll grow up soon enough, and you can resume your night life. If you’re not too tired then. And please: insist your child not stand and jump in their chairs, run around the restaurant, or trash the place. If they scream, take ’em to the car. Sorry. Such is the life of a parent. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Catch flies with honey. Make eye contact. Would it kill you to smile when we do, or at least look like you’d like to kill me a little less? Can we add “thank you” and “please” to your lexicon? Can we, for the love of God, not interrupt? Can we not wear pajama pants or stripper halter tops in public? Can we not drop the door in the face of the person coming in behind us? Could we not turn traffic into a high stakes video game in our Mad Max-like efforts to command the roadways?
I could write a dissertation on ways to improve Dallas’ standing in the rudeness category; believe me, I’ve got more. But I am absolutely sure none of you, dear readers, are guilty of the above social infractions. I know you’re right here beside me in the fight to bring back civility. If not, we can only try. But I’m thinking: if we can’t get some empathy for all the other people with whom we are sharing the planet pretty soon, we’re going to end up with problems a lot bigger than a breach of etiquette.