Through the miracle of Amazon Prime, my copy of Amy Alkon’s I See Rude People arrived a day early and I haven’t been able to put it down.  I expected a non-stop skewering of the people wildly indifferent to other people that she describes as the new rudeness.  Instead, Alkon offers a sociological reason for the rudeness of our species rooted in a brain whose evolution has not kept up with our societal and technological changes.  She suggests that we have always been a rude and self-centered species but in relatively small social groups (say, tribes) where everyone knew each other, we essentially policed each other.  In our diverse and often anonymous communities, the innate rudeness runs rampant.  Whether you buy her theory or not, her description of the new rudeness, divided into categories like The Mobile Savage, The Underparented Child and The Business of Being Rude, is hilarious.  And, as it says on the cover, Alkon gives you the tools you need to confront these abusers and restore common courtesy … one chastened cellphone user at a time.  For example, she calls back one particularly loud Starbucks cell phone talker who happened to say his phone number, informing him of all the personal information she heard.

Before I read too far … and begin to confront my own favorite rudees … I thought I’d post a few of the most annoying rude behaviors I see in my daily travels (and give you a chance to do the same in my comments section).  Yes, I know … loud cell phone people and cell phone drivers and texting while driving … these are a few others:

1. Romance Wreckers – It’s our anniversary.  Muri’s birthday.  I go online and Google Most Romantic Restaurants for the city we’re visiting.  I find one promising beautiful ocean views, wonderful food, intimate surroundings, even guitar music on weekends.  I make reservations for 7:30 and we arrive dressed for the occasion.   What Google didn’t tell us is that there’d be a family with two kids at the next table who’d just come from the beach.  Heather wants desert NOW and Tyler wanted a hot dog, not fettuccine Alfredo … and both are letting the whole restaurant know.  There are places children don’t belong.  Just because their parents have let their larva end the romance in their lives, they don’t have the right to ruin ours.

2. Barista Banter:  I’m in line at THAT coffee place trying to remember the secret word for medium.  I’m late for an appointment and there are seven people in front of me.  And the person at the front of the line, Frippe-Frappe Latte in hand, is telling the barista each and every detail of his last 24 hours (yes, he’s fifty and she’s cute).  And the barista is encouraging him, acting interested, oblivious to the line.  Double rude.

3. Cinema Chatters – We go to the movies a lot on weekday afternoons, when the theaters are empty.  Because I can be a pain about movies, we sit off by ourselves but some people are gregarious and like to be near other people.  They like to sit behind us.  Some of those people are couples who seem to think they’re in their own living rooms.  We get, What did he say?  Why did he do that?  Isn’t that the guy who stold (sic) the car?  There’s a good chance they also laugh loudly at things that aren’t funny.  They are exactly 3.5 times as annoying as the twenty somethings illuminating the theater with their cell phones every thirty seconds two rows in front of us.

Roxy the Grand Dog

4. Canine Consumers– OK.  I’m a cat guy but I don’t hate dogs.  I have a grand dog that loves me.  And if Petco and PetSmart and PetWhatever want let you to bring Woofie to help pick out his own kibble, I’m OK with that.  But why do you have to bring your dogs to people stores then look at every person, waiting for, Oh what a cute rat-dog? as they clog up the aisles?  Last week I had to squeeze past two Mastiffs at Home Depot while the owner blissfully searched for cotter pins in the narrow hardware aisle.  One of them winked at me as if to say, I could maim you in a New York minute.  Home Depot has a Service Dogs Only sign, by the way.  And don’t get me started on dogs at restaurants with patios.  A few weeks ago I had to endure eating my lunch while a couple two tables away fed table scraps to a drooling, slurping bulldog.  Yuck.  They’re dogs, people.  Some people don’t like them and some people are afraid of them.  Leave them home when you go to people places.

5. Parking Lot Pains:  As I’ve gotten older, going to the mall has become something I do out of necessity.  I usually want to get in, get out and go home with my over-priced shirt.  As I drive down one row, I spot a parking place in the next row about 25 spaces from the store and whip around the corner to get it but five cars in, a Mecedes is stopped in the middle of the aisle.  It could be a Prius or a beat up Camry … this particular rudeness knows no economic limits.  Suzy (yes, it’s more frequently a woman … it is the mall, after all) is watching a couple meander down the row, hoping they’re in a closer spot.  I look in the mirror and three other cars have slipped in behind me.   There’s a spot just ahead, I shout helplessly at my windshield (thinking, But it’s mine).  Suzy sits.  Finally, our couple reaches their car, only five spaces closer than the one I covet.  It’s been five minutes now and the guy behind me blows his horn, which gets me flipped off by Suzy.  The couple pops their trunk, puts in a few bags, then starts back towards the mall.  Shit.  Suzy charges forward and takes my spot and I’m starting over.  Suzy is a Parking Lot Pain (in the you-know-what) and I’m wondering where’s Larry’s Parking Lot God when I need Him?

Now, it’s your turn.  What are the most annoying rude  things people do in your life?

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12 Comments on “Rude!”

  1. I love dogs. So much. But I do NOT love unleashed dogs barreling out of control around a park where there are leash laws. When I swoop to grab my toddler, the owners invariably say “Bruno LOVES kids! He won’t hurt him!” Yeah, people. Next time, I’ll let my trained grizzly bear chase you down the sidewalk. He just wants a kiss!

    And the ones who don’t “pick up” after their pets.

    • oldereyes Says:

      At our park, people often put their “dog nuisances” in plastic bags and leave the bags by the side of the paths, which is worse than not picking it up at all.

  2. Most people are oblivious. It is the entitled, this is my universe attitude, that makes me really pause. When my hubby and I went to see the last Harry Potter movie, a couple with two very small children (ages 2 and 4) sat behind us. Somewhere between the kicking the back of our seats, the constant snack bag rattling, whining, raised voices of the parents (I use that term loosely) telling the kids to “sit down” and “shut up” was the movie we were not able to hear or enjoy. (There isn’t enough room here to address the inappropriateness of toddlers being at that movie. Ugh.)
    After we moved to a different part of the theater (which we should have done earlier), several other people in the theater asked the dad to take the 2 year old out of the theater, to which he replied, “No! I don’t have to.” More heated words were exchanged, to which I got nervous (you never know who is carrying a gun these days).
    Anyway, the dad and the toddler stayed until the last 20 minutes of the movie when evidently, he had had enough and took the child outside. It was unbelievable, really.

    Fortunately, the majority of the obliviousness doesn’t rile me.

  3. Well Bud, I gather that the reading of this book has really unleashed your “Inner Curmudgeon” today. And I really enjoyed reading from his perspective too -probably because the majority of the instances you cited would work as being on my reasons for putting certain people on at least an imaginary hit list. The issue with children in restaurants was -as a waitress -one of my hot-button things as I watched many parents allow their children ro run wild, weaving in and out around my staff who might be carrying just a simple pot of hot coffee or a big old tray filled with all kinds of HOT food (and not of the spicy-kind of hot, either) and gee, is it any wonder I worried constantly then about those same parents being the ones who would sue the restaurant, the employee, me and anyone else they could name all because they let their child run loose and trip someone on my waitstaff. Everyone should take lessons in how to discipline children in public from the Amish or Mennonite community as in all my years of food service, I never saw any children who were members of those sects EVER misbehave in a restaurant! Just my humble opinion there.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Parents not only won’t discipline their kids, they’ll argue with businesses that try to control children in their facilities. That’s why so many young adults feel so entitled.

  4. I find people who chew with their mouths open to be incredibly rude (and badly parented). I find a certain level of profanity in public to be rude. I find saying “huh” or “what” instead of “excuse/pardon me” when someone has not heard another person to be rude. People who constantly insert themselves into conversations that don’t involve them are rude. People who walk away or begin a different conversation while I’m talking to them are astonishingly rude.

    But I do think that author is onto something. Not being rude is a conditioning process. We are inherently rude as a species. Who said we had to be polite when we were hunting and killing our food all day long? It was you or the other guy. There were no laws of attraction beyond pheromones and the need to be provided for. If rude meant food, well, be rude!

    • oldereyes Says:

      The book is much more than I thought it would be. I thought it would just be a rant but it’s very well thought out as to the cause and solutions for the “rudeness problem.”

  5. territerri Says:

    Rudeness on the roads is what annoys me most. There are laws that state that you must allow other vehicles to merge in certain situations, yet so many consider a merging vehicle to be a an infringement on their right not to allow anyone in front of them! And then there are the ones that ride so close to your rear bumper that you can’t see their lights in the rear view mirror. And how about those people who think they are entitled to more than one parking spot?

  6. marjulo Says:

    I’m with you on every one of your complaints. I never could describe them so well, though. Hilarious! (and very, very annoying). My husband had one yesterday when we were on the way to an appointment. He wanted to stop at the grocery store first, so we left 40 minutes early. It was an late appointment, a snow storm was predicted, thus the stop. I’m sitting in the car when I realize he has been gone for a long time. I call him. He’s still in line. People go crazy when a big storm is predicted–should have figured that one. When he gets back, he relates his pet peeve–an ancient couple with tons of coupons that won’t scan, so they have to hand enter each one. When everything is rung up, the total is calculated, THEN she gets out her purse and counts out the cash–with lots of change. Every casher is busy, long lines have formed–the couple is totally oblivious. That’s my addition to rude squad.

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