Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bring on the Stupidity Police

by Annette Dashofy

I’m composing a list of new laws that should be enacted. I’m not saying they will be. Or that it would matter. People break the law all the time. But either I’m getting cranky in my old age or society is getting ruder and I’m fed up with it.

So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Pedestrians vs. motor vehicles in inclement weather—persons in motor vehicles in
parking lots must yield to pedestrians when the weather sucks. Be it snow, bitter cold, or wind and heavy rain, if you are in your car, you are dry and warm. The mom with two little kids in tow waiting to cross in front of you is not. Stop and let her go!

Children in restaurants—at no time should a child be permitted to run loose in a
restaurant unless they are in a play area such as at McDonalds. In a real restaurant, a kid running free because the parents can’t bring themselves to deal with their little darling another moment is likely to trip the waiter who is carrying around large trays of hot food and beverage. Such a trip can potentially cause grave injury to whomever ends up wearing the soup. That probably won’t be the child because they’re too fast and will be gone before the china hits the floor.

Long check-out lines—if only two check-out lanes are open and the line for both stretches back into the merchandise, the store manager should be required to open up additional lanes or face stiff fines and penalties.

Illegal cart parking—okay, yes, I’m dumping on retail establishments, but that is where I tend to get the most annoyed. People who leave their shopping carts unattended in the middle of a narrow row so that no one can get around them without physically moving the unattended cart should be ticketed and fined.

Addendum to illegal cart parking—people who double park their carts in the middle of a crowded aisle to visit with a long-lost pal while oblivious to other shoppers trying to either get around them or trying to reach a product that they are blocking should also face penalties. Find a wider aisle for your chat or, better yet, arrange to meet at Starbucks later.

Okay, that’s a start. Now it’s your turn to add to the list. What offensive offenses would you like to see outlawed? What bits of common courtesy need to be legally required?

We'll worry about how to actually enforce these new laws in another blog.


Gina said...

Wow, Annette. I could probably list 150 or so. Here's my top ten:
(1) Cell phone use, anytime, anywhere, particularly when you are: driving, waiting on customers in a store or restaurant, having a screaming argument with the person you're speaking to, crossing the street, in a movie/theater/restaurant, or anywhere else where you should pay attention to what you're doing and let those around you do whatever they are doing without having to listen to you. [Have you noticed that people on cell phones tend to talk much louder than people speaking to those around them?]
(2) People who talk in the movie theater - I don't mean saying "OH NO!" when the monster psycho killer reaches out of the locker to grab the hero's helpless puppy -- I mean those folks who chat with their friends about whatever.
(3) People who step out into traffic without bothering to look first.
(4) People who pull their cars out into traffic without bothering to look first, like the jackass who almost broadsided me yesterday backing out of his driveway. I was stopped at a red light, in a line of traffic, and had nowhere to go to get away from him.
(5) Screaming and/or vomiting children on airplanes, whose parents seem to have never anticipated that they should be ready with comfort, distraction, or a barf bag.
(6) Anyone who pees on the seat in a public restroom should be publicly drowned in their own urine.
(7) Unsupervised children in public restrooms, who peek into booths while their mother/caretaker/whatever is busy fixing her makeup or combing her hair.
(8) People who don't shovel or salt their icy sidewalks.
(9) People who park blocking my driveway (or anybody else's).
(10) People who constantly complain about other people. [Oops.]

Tory said...

I don't think blocking carts are as annoying as blocking cars. You know, the delivery vans that stop in the middle of Penn Ave., say, and expect you to wait for their entire delivery before moving on?

I've noticed in Pgh. there is no concept of "pulling over," even if the curb next to you is clear.

Let's start a campaign!

Annette said...

I think (or at least, I HOPE) some of the traffic stuff is already law, isn't it?

The delivery van stuff happens a lot on country roads, too, even if the house has a driveway. The drivers must be trained in aggravation techniques.

And I KNEW that cell phones would be on somebody's list. I was going to put them on mine, but I think I've ranted about them a few times in the past, so I allowed someone else the pleasure this time. Thank you, Gina.

By the way, the people stepping out into traffic without looking are most guessed it...talking on their cell phone!

There are a few others I'm waiting to see if anyone else hits on before I expand my own list.

Joyce said...

I am so with you on this! I've said for years that if we could cite people for stupidity (or rudeness), our towns/cities, etc. would be rolling in the dough. (Maybe that's an answer to the property tax issue!)

I'm afraid my list would fill several blogs, so I'll pick a few.

1. School buses that hold up traffic until junior is seated. Maybe if junior got tossed on the floor a couple of times, he'd sit down faster!

2. Garbage trucks who drive up the middle of the street to pick up the trash so you can't pass them on either side.

See a trend here?

3. Old people (yes, I know I'm going to be old someday), who should not be on the road. Yesterday when I was going home for lunch I was behind one whose wheels were on the double yellow line the entire way up Mt. Royal Blvd.

4. Misbehaving children in church. When my kids were little, if they made a sound, we'd take them back to the gathering space. Parents now seem to let the kids make as much noise as they want, crush their Cheerios into the carpeting, climb all over the pews, etc. And when I was a kid, if we squirmed, my mother would pinch us behind the knees. It worked!

And Gina? I especially liked your #6.

ramona said...

Let the venting begin. Annette, I think you are doing a great public service today, by offering this forum.

Hands-free ear phones: I know they are safer, but I can't get past my upbringing not to stare at the man talking to himself, because if he is talking to himself, he must be sad and crazy. Now, if he is talking to himself, he is rude and self-important.

Kids in church? I once endured a service behind a family with two boys playing Gameboys--with the sound ON. I was seriously praying for my dead grandmother to reach down from heaven and pinch the heck out of them. Or, better yet, their parents.

Nancy said...

Don't block the box!!!! Before you try to sneak through the intersection just as the light turns yellow, be sure you're not going to get stuck in the middle of the intersection, thereby blocking the flow of traffic entirely!

But then, maybe this only happens in East Liberty.

Martha Reed said...

Okay, I'll play. People should be fined for spitting on the sidewalks - it's disgusting and why this is suddenly acceptable behavior is a mystery but I see it all the time.

Instant $50 fines and citizen arrests. That's my idea.

Annette said...

LOL! Martha, spitting is nothing new, but it is definitely a male thing. Even more so from overpasses and bridges. My hubby does it and I've screamed at him and demanded to know why. He can't give me an answer. Men are just drawn to spit from high places. Yuck.

Ramona, last week I was shopping and an otherwise normal guy was talking to himself, describing the products on the shelf. I started easing away from him before I noticed the earpiece. Yikes. I was really ready to call the psyche ward.

I can't speak on kids in church. My church is mostly old people who have strokes in the middle of services. Not too many kids there.

Joyce said...

Ramona, I actually did something in church once that my mother would have done. There was a girl of maybe 12 or 13 in the pew in front of me who would not stop talking to her brother. I jabbed a finger in her back and gave her "the look." She was a little angel after that.

Annette said...

Oh, no, Joyce. Not "THE LOOK." Poor kid.

Nancy, it's not just East Liberty. There is one intersection in Washington (PA, not DC) that is always blocked up with cars trying to zig and zag around the ones that are stuck in the middle of the intersection, only creating more congestion. Yep, that's a good one.

Martha Reed said...

I wish it was just male behavior - but I see women doing it too. I'm all for equality, but come on...

Lee Lofland said...

Oh man, where do I start. Let's see:

People who park so close to the driver's side of my car that I can't get in.
Punishment - death

People who don't have their money ready when they approach a toll booth. What, is it a surprise that you'll have to pay?
Punishment - death

People on cell phones in public places.
Kill them twice

Reality TV.
Watching it worse than death. Force the producers to live one year on a deserted island with Paula Abdul.

News about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Who cares?
Punishment for TV stations that consider anything about these people as news - Two years of confinement in a locked room with any two guests of the Jerry Springer Show.

People on cell phones in public places.
See above.

Rude clerks in grocery stores.
Punishment - They should be forced to sustain life on crushed bread, broken cookies, and cracked eggs.

lisa curry said...

Okay, I know we already have a law about this, but the oblivious jack-asses who do it seem to be unaware of that fact (surprise!). I want to see SOMEBODY get a ticket for driving slow in the left lane of the highway for miles and miles and miles when there's absolutely nothing besides stupidity or bad manners preventing them from getting the hell back over into the right lane. And, yes, lots of times they're talking on their freakin' cell phone while doing this!

Gina said...

Ack! Driving. What about the jerks who drive 6 inches from my bumper at 55 mph? I know their goal is to terrify me into going faster, so I (passive aggression!) slow down until I reach a speed that I think will give them a safe stopping distance (i.e., under 10 mph). I realize this is probably not safe and that they may pull a gun or ram my car, but sometimes I can't help myself. I also once got out of my car and asked the guy stopped behind me why he was honking -- it turns out that he wanted me to turn right on red. Unfortunately, I intended to go straight so I could not oblige. Or what about the folks who try to change lanes by merging into your car? Doesn't everybody know by now about that blind spot?

Annette said...

Wee! This is fun!

Lee, I have to add Anna Nicole Smith to your list of outlawed celebrities. She may be dead, but that doesn't stop the entertainment news folks from reporting about her, her son, her daughter, her boyfriends. ENOUGH already!

I need to add two more to my own list: similar to the guys who park so close you can't get in your car are the idiots who take up TWO parking spaces so no one will get close and scratch their doors. This generally only happens in the most jam-packed parking lots when the only other spaces are a two-mile hike away.

AND waiters/waitresses who come to work sick. Last week I was (past tense) enjoying lunch with a friend when our waiter walked past and sneezed all over the place. Eeww!

ramona said...

I just hate it when I go to a restaurant and there are police officers there, eating, like normal people. And then they have the nerve to get annoyed when I interrupt their lunch and say, "If you are here, who is out there fighting crime? I pay your salary with my tax dollars, you know."


Gina said...

Yikes, Ramona! The restaurants want the cops there! When I worked in restaurants, we always gave free coffee and reduced price meals to police on the theory that any criminal with half a brain would hesitate to rob a place frequented by cops. Besides, haven't you seen that old Everybody Loves Raymond episode in which Robert foils a robbery at the pizza place? It's one of my favorites.

Joyce said...

Ramona, what you should do instead is pick up the nice officers' check and pay for their lunch!

Or call 911 with an emergency.

ramona said...

Yikes, I was joking about the cops at lunch! I would never actually say anything like that. If I did, heck, they'd be justified in shooting me.

Allie said...

I hope I don't offend any smokers. And I know I'm late to commenting, but here are mine.

People who spit their gum out in parking lots or on sidewalks, or in planters, etc. Use the garbage can.

Smokers, the world is NOT your ashtray. Put your cigarette out in your car ashtray, not in the parking lot or in the planter, etc.

Oh, and back to gum chewers, please stop chewing while you are speaking.

And I agree with every other comment on this subject, especially the cell phone etiquette.