01 02   03   La Parisienne Temporaire: Etiquette and Ignorance 04   05     15   16     19   20     21      22      23      24     25   26   27   28    31    32     33     

Etiquette and Ignorance

Forgive me. I've fallen upon some blogs in recent times where (I kid you not) the sole purpose of the blog is for its author to complain. I swore I wouldn't stoop to that level. But I cannot resist. I've had it up to a level that is taller than I am, both in actual height and ego, which is seriously saying something.

So what has me so irked? I've been doing a lot of research on manners, general politeness, and etiquette so that I'm on top of things when I go to France. That's not to say that the French are "more polite" than Americans are, but the culture is different, and that's evident. For example, in France, you do not go up to a worker at a supermarket and say "where do you keep the mayonnaise?" You need to put a bonjour in front of it, but you don't need to put a "hi" in front of that question in America. On another front, you ignore everyone on the metro, and you ignore people walking around in a boutique when you cross paths. In America, you should probably ignore people on buses and trains, but if you make eye contact with someone, a cursory smile is probably necessary. In a shop, when you nearly collide with someone while crossing paths, you should probably grumble "sorry" or "'scuse me." I digress. Here's where the constructive complaining starts...

My car needed some work done recently, which meant that I spent a lot of time stuck in a waiting room, and oh my goodness... I don't know what it is with people and having conversations on cell phones inside... If you are in a waiting room, and you get a phone call, you LEAVE and you GO OUTSIDE to handle it. When you are able-bodied and capable of getting up out of your chair in a reasonable amount of time to run out the door while answering your phone, you do it. I looked it up, that's actually what you're supposed to do if you're going to practice proper cell phone etiquette. Frankly, not all of us want to listen to this conversation...

"Hello? ...No, I'm not doing anything... I'm waiting to get the car fixed at Ford... yeah, you know how long they take... Hey, uh, what are we doing for dinner tonight?... But we had chicken for dinner last night.... What is with you and this no red meat thing? A little iron would do you some good, you know?"

It's better when you're standing in a long queue and someone makes the call because they're bored and the conversation is about the same, but usually much less important, and much heavier on the "nothing, what about you?" part. It's phenomenally better when you have a Nextel phone with that walkie-talkie setting that chirps between transmissions and you don't leave the waiting area to handle that. At least with a phone call, we can only hear what YOU'RE saying. Not with this walkie-talking feature, oh no. We get the benefit of hearing both sides of the conversation. It's wonderful entertainment. I kid you not, that happened in that waiting room TWICE FROM THE SAME OFFENDER. I really hope sarcasm comes across in text as well as it sounds in my head. Needless to say, while I was in that waiting room, I got a couple phone calls myself, including one Skype call from the boyfriend. I got my happy butt outside as quick as I could, and the only word I said before getting through that door was "Hello?" Mind you, I couldn't hear the Skype call very well, but it was more important for me to practice proper cell phone etiquette and be polite than in call volume. Headphones helped with that...

Basic notes on cell phone in public etiquette: Text messaging should be done in waiting rooms while your phone is on vibrate. It's totally non-disruptive. That's what it's made for. If you do have to make or take a phone call (or a walkie-talkie conversation), you should excuse yourself from the room you're in, and go outside to take it. If you're walking outside and you need to make or take a call, you should not be shouting into your phone. Keep your voice at a reasonable volume. Unless you are inside your own house or private office, you should NEVER use foul language over the phone. Despite the fact that the people around you may not be little old ladies or children, we don't all like to hear those words.


Mark Twain has a great quote that starts out "In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice."  He then goes on to bash school boards, but that's another story. Now, I've done some pretty stupid things in my life, but I think it's safe to say that I am not a stupid person. Mr. Twain, I think God made idiots to annoy people like me, and make us wish Mr. Darwin's theory of natural selection would work faster. With some of the things these stupid people do, Mr. Darwin's theory DOES work faster, and it's a miracle when these idiots somehow avoid his theory. While driving down a country road with a friend in my passenger's seat, we saw a man walking down the left turn lane of the road when there was a sidewalk just off to his left! All my friend and I could think was "stupid people..." After I had dropped her off and headed back home, I went back to that road. This was about 45 minutes after I had seen that idiot the first time, and he'd made it about a mile further up the road. The sidewalk had disappeared, and so had the turn lane by this point. Thankfully, this idiot had enough IQ points to realize that walking down the middle of the road wasn't a good idea anymore, so he was walking off to his right of the road (the lane I was in now), with his back toward oncoming traffic. Either way, I drove past him, and the "stupid people" thought entered my mind again. I understand that maybe he didn't have a car, or a bicycle, but there is no excuse for walking down the middle of the road in a turn lane when there's a perfectly good sidewalk on the road. My mother has come across stupid people like this in city limits. Someone decided to jaywalk (cross the street where there were no actual or implied crosswalks) in front of her car at one point, and she had to really stop herself from yelling at them, much less hitting them with her SUV. Needless to say, if she'd hit that person, she would have "won" because in car vs. pedestrian, car gets easily removable blood on it, and pedestrian ceases to exist, but where we live, car's driver would be guilty of manslaughter (involuntary or voluntary gets decided by court). Of course, there are other "stupid people" things that I can complain about, but for now we'll stop at stupid pedestrians.

Basic notes on how to not be a stupid pedestrian: Walk in a crosswalk if you have to cross a street. Use a marked one (one that's painted on the asphalt) if there's one in your intersection, as some will only have certain crosses (two or three out of the four if not all four) painted. If you're at an intersection where there are NO marked crosswalks, the end of a sidewalk/creation of an intersection creates implied crosswalks. DO NOT JAYWALK. Depending on where you live, if you are a pedestrian, and you are struck by a car while jaywalking, that motorist is not responsible for your injuries because you were being stupid. Of course, motorists, this does not mean you get to speed up and hit jaywalkers like they're zombies and it's the zombie apocalypse. If you need to walk along a road that does not have a sidewalk, you should walk on the left side of the road (your left), and face oncoming traffic (the opposite of what the stupid person I encountered did).


Noah and I go to our local dog park that just opened this summer a lot. We're never worried about dog fights since we only go in the small dog park, but we've heard/seen a few spats happen in the large dog park. Sometimes it's been territorial aggression with breeding dogs, sometimes it's been harmless playing between one dog and another that has a bark that sounds like a scream, and sometimes it's flat out been aggressive dogs. We've seen three or four owners leash up their dogs and leave the second they see a pit bull with a "thuggish" looking owner coming toward the park, since it's never necessarily the dog's fault they're aggressive, it's the owner's fault, and those types of owners are notorious for having problem dogs. Noah has been attacked by a pit bull, and the owner was the poster child for "bad pit bull owner," and you could make that assumption by looking at him. The last time we went to our dog park, a man brought in his young Pomeranian, and talked to me about his two "husband and wife" pit bulls. He mentioned how he'd love to bring them to the dog park and let them have some exercise, but he's worried they'd have a spat with the dogs in the large dog park because they're older and not well-socialized, and he'd be really embarrassed and upset if something actually happened. I could tell he was a responsible pet owner because he cared about his dogs and wanted to make sure his dogs and the other dogs at the park would be safe if he brought them. I suggested that he call the local obedience school that I've worked with for Noah's CGC and TDI tests since they help with animal behavior stuff to see if they could work through the issue to get his dogs "dog park ready." He was grateful for the information, and took down the number right away in his phone. It's people like that man at the dog park that give me hope, but it's people like my horrid ex-neighbor with his pit bull that attacked Noah, or the heavy-set man that walks his pit bull with testicles the size of my head (the pit bull's, I wouldn't know about his owner's) near where I live that make me wish that people practiced proper dog-owner etiquette. By the way, if your dog does not know how walk on a leash, so you never put it on one, and you say can't afford to take an obedience class, but you can afford to be seen with a bottle of 40 in your hand every day of the week, your name is officially on my s#@$ list. Especially after your dog nearly kills mine, and you STILL don't put your dog on a leash, or shut your door to prevent your dog from escaping to try to eat mine again.

Basic notes on how to be a good dog owner: If you plan on taking your dog on frequent walks or out to your local dog park, you need to make sure that your dog is ALWAYS up on all of his or her vaccinations, and have your dog licensed in your county. It'll be a good idea to have your dog microchipped in case he or she escapes, since it'll help get your dog back into your arms quicker. When I went to license Noah recently, people went to retrieve their lost dogs, and were fined big time when their pets did not have licenses. You'll also get fined if your dog gets into a fight and someone files a report, then the animal control officer finds that your dog is not licensed. When you take your dog out on walks, or to the dog park, make sure to keep an eye on him or her and pick up any, ahem, droppings that are left behind (apparently, people don't do this in France). If you own a large dog, you need to use a type of choke chain with it, even if you find it slightly inhumane (which it isn't, try it on yourself). The the pit bull that attacked Noah had a plain flat collar, and his owner would often complain that he could never get his dog to walk on a leash properly. You can't control a large dog when you aren't using the proper collar. If you don't like choke chains, try a Martingale collar. Noah wasn't the best on polite leash walking, so our trainer suggested it until he got the hang of walking correctly, then we went back to the flat collar. I will admit, I'm still a little prejudiced against pit bulls since Noah got attacked, but Noah is not. To those of you that see a pit bull, or another type of "aggressive" dog and go into panic mode, understand that the dog is not to blame, it's the owner. If the breed of dog worries you, look at the owner to confirm or deny your suspicion, then react. I know quite a few pit bull owners that are responsible, and their dogs are wonderful. Don't judge the dog by the breed. If you must judge, judge the owner.


Again, my apologies for having a "complaint" post, but I tried to make it a little constructive. I'm willing to bet that the people that annoy me (and essentially fueled this post) will never read it, but I do feel a little better now that it's been written. If nothing else, I will most certainly follow the rules I've outlined for myself, and that'll make today's ending quote that much more appropriate...

Celui qui obéit est presque toujours meilleur que celui qui command. -Renan

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