Jean-Paul Sartre once famously opined (Etiquetteer thinks it was in No Exit) that "Hell is other people." Etiquetteer cordially invites you to share what behavior of other people irritates you. Please drop a line to query <at> etiquetteer.com
What do you think about people who use their cell phones to carry on long and very loudconversations in public places, such as on trains and buses, or in restaurants? Or even on airlines when they are allowed.
And there is the public HEALTH risk of drivers so preoccupied with their calls that they run over pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s referred to as DWD: driving while distracted.
People like these, Etiquetteer has decided, must have low self-esteem and feel the need to call attention to themselves, and therefore making themselves more important. That the attention is negative doesn’t seem to make a difference. It would be easy to peg this behavior as lower-class, but many offenders have graduated from the finest business schools (AHEM!).
Etiquetteer remembers, from the dim past of 1994, his first trip to Los Angeles. Cell phones were just beginning to become available to the public, and Etiquetteer and his friends were agog to see peopleactually talking on the phone right there on the street!
Let’s just say the honeymoon is over.
You have the power to disconcert public cell phone yakkers by asking them personal questions about their phone calls. Proceed with caution; Etiquetteer disclaims all responsibility if they beat you up.
DWD is certainly becoming more of a problem. Last year Etiquetteer referred to a young woman in the Midwest who killed a man while she was simultaneously driving and downloading ringtones. And Etiquetteer will never forget riding in a car driven by a friend who was operating the car, the phone, and a personal digital assistance at the same time. Please drivers, hang up and drive!
For almost 50 years I've been friends with a man from my home state. We email infrequently, but I always manage to see him on the rare occasions when I return for a visit. My situation is that he keeps sending me email of a religious nature, long silly stories about how prayer has saved a grieving family, etc, or how the rainbows will come out if you just believe. He is a devout Baptist; I am an atheist, though he doesn't actually know this. Not only have I jettisoned my faith, I consider religion a pernicious deception of the gullible and an obstacle to the general love of mankind. As one can imagine, his emails make me acutely uncomfortable.
My problem is: do I (gently and tactfully) request that he stop sending me these ludicrous messages, stressing the fact that I would rather hear about what he's doing and thinking, or do I remain silent and simply erase the damned things?
Dear Persecuted and Scornful:
You can finesse the whole thing without even mentioning your change of religious beliefs. Ask your friend to take you off his distribution list (Etiquetteer assumes that he is sending his e-mail messages to more friends than yourself) because you find your mailbox so full of general communications such as this that you can’t keep up with specific e-mail from friends. (Once upon a time such specific communications were known as "letters" and they came in the mailbox.) Tell your friend that you still want to hear from him, but enjoy much more e-mail messages that he’s written himself.
This is a good place for Etiquetteer to remind everyone that the best way to forward humor, religious, or political posts (once referred to as "chain mail" when the postman delivered it) is to bcc: all the recipients and put your own e-mail address in the To: field. You not only preserve the privacy of your correspondents, but you also eliminate the possibility of annoying flame wars.
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