Today, September 26, is National Situational Awareness Day, a day created to emphasize awareness of one’s surroundings for personal safety. Etiquetteer would rather focus on the situational awareness of two everyday situations where more of it is needed: the supermarket and public transportation. Because in both these places the simplest advice is best: get out of the way!
Shopping at the supermarket would be so much easier if shoppers were conscious of how they, and their carts and belongings, impede the progress of others. People just leaving their carts in the middle of the aisle while they search for what they need, people stopping right where you need to be to get that essential item. A little care and attention would make things so much easier for everyone. This counts at the register, too. The aggravation of shoppers who try to leave their carts in line while they run back for a forgotten item, or who bring too many items in the express lane, or who have misread their coupons so the cashiers have to verify every blessed thing, delaying everyone. Don’t be that person!
Public transportation is almost exclusively traveled by people who no longer care about the impact they have on others. Whether it’s leaky headphones or no headphones at all, too much cologne or too much body odor, or taking up one or more extra seats with luggage, these behaviors not only exhibit an absence of situational awareness, but a disregard of the feelings of others. But the worst, to Etiquetteer, is just standing in the open door and not moving out of the way so other travelers can escape! Of course Etiquetteer understands why everyone wants to be close to the door; it lessens one’s anxiety about actually getting out of the vehicle before the door shuts. But really, if you’re traveling half the length of the route and insist on blocking the door, it’s because you WANT to call attention to yourself as an Ostentatious Obstacle. That is not situational awareness of the right sort. Step out of the train and to the side! Standing in an exit doesn’t make it “your” space.
Etiquette IS situational awareness. Be aware of YOUR situation and how you impact other people in it. Situational Awareness will bring us to a World of Perfect Propriety.