My wife and I were out to dinner and having our usually jolly time. Things were clicking. My jokes were firing on all cylinders. I was witty. Our repartee was fast and furious on a highly intellectual level.
As we exited the restaurant I was feeling pretty good. (It could happen.) I saw four people behind us. They were far enough back that I could have let the door close and no slight would have been perceived. I decided to be nice and waited to hold open the door.
They came through single file. As she passed, the first person actually said, I kid you not, “Thank you.”
Wow. It’s a modern day miracle. I’m now that much closer to sainthood. I was momentarily stunned and at a loss for words. As quickly as I could I responded with, “You’re welcome.”
Oops. By then the third person was already walking by. She heard what I said and turned and looked at me. With dagger eyes. Of hatred and death.
Ah. She thought I was talking to her and assumed I was being snotty because she decidedly did not bother to say thank you.
Good intentions: 0. Crass misunderstandings: 1.
Bad form, Mr. Smee. Bad form.
And now some politeness tips from yours truly.
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SWIM (Someone Who Isn’t Me) is at it again. In this case, SWIM is a person (or persons) alleged to have perpetrated the dastardly deed of opening a beverage container and heretofore not consuming the entirety of the liquid contents contained therein.
Furthermore, it is alleged that these deeds were committed in the unfriendly confines of the Abyss Castle and at great expense to your Guru.
It goes a little something like this:
- SWIM proclaims, “I’m so thirsty!”
- SWIM takes one of your precious cans of 12-ounce beverage. Likely a soda but it may also be a beer.
- SWIM heartily quaffs some of the precious nectar of the gods.
- SWIM sets the can down and aimlessly wanders away leaving a percentage of contents adrift in the oceans of time.
As you might be able to tell by the level of drama and hyperbole, this all pains me so deeply.
Perhaps, you think, why not just pick up the can (yuck!) and take it to SWIM and request the task to be completed? I’ve tried this, and I’m usually subjected to some rendition of “the contents at the bottom don’t taste as good as those on top.”
Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize this was the first layered can of beverage in the universe! My bad.
Maybe they think they’re doing me a favor. Those partially filled cans are quite decorative strewn about the house.
Rather than debate such twisted logic, I grabbed my trusty calculator and decided to wow SWIM with some facts.
Assumption: A six-pack of [insert deadly sugary soda of your choice here] costs about $3.00. Even without my calculator I reckon that’s about 50 cents a can.
Q. If someone drinks one ounce of a 12-ounce can, how much did that cost?
A. Assuming $3.00 for a six pack, it works out to cost four cents per ounce. But, if only one ounce was consumed and the can costs 50 cents, then that’s the same as paying 50 cents per ounce. And since the can has 12 ounces, that simple act of unthirstiness creates a $6.00 can of soda.
That’s $6 per can!
I’m sorry, SWIM, but I’d never spend that much on a can of soda for a non-drinker like you.
Not too long ago, it’s been three or four weeks now, I gave up on an old friend. That’s right, I no longer add granulated sugar to anything. That includes iced tea, coffee, etc. I’m trying to be healthier.
It’s been rough.
I’d been drinking glasses of water all day. Not my favorite beverage. But I was doing ok. I decided to mix it up a bit.
Suddenly I have a new appreciation for fruit juice. Go figure. After a few weeks of water, I had an apple juice and it was delicious!
So I decided to try some grape juice. I went to the store and picked up two 64-ounce bottles of Welch’s grape juice for $4.59 each. I had a coupon for $1 off when you buy two, so the actual price was $4.09 per bottle.
To stretch things further, I did some experimentation and decided that a ratio of half juice and half water was right for me. I don’t want to be buying a bottle every other day so I want to make this stuff last.
I kept one bottle at home and I took one to work. It is pasteurized and has to be refrigerated after opening. That means I had to keep a bottle in the work refrigerator.
My job doesn’t provide potable water (unless you count the toilet and/or sink) so I bring my own Klean Kanteen with water every day. And I was actually looking forward to enjoying a little grape juice to enliven my otherwise shitty day.
We all know by now how this turns out, right? If I actually dare to want something then that becomes The One Thing that will be denied to me. This is the way of things.
I went to work yesterday and there was my bottle of Welch’s grape juice, completely empty and sitting in the trash!
Out of that 64-ounce bottle I was able to actually drink about 8 ounces. Yes, for those keeping track, that works out to be about $4.09 for a glass of grape juice. What a deal!
As I sat there considering this dastardly turn of events, the boss got up, lumbered over to the fridge, grabbed a bottle of juice, took off the lid, and brought the wide-mouth opening up to his gaping maw. Gulp, gulp, gulp. Ugh, what a sickening sound.
I turned to myself and said, “I dare say, Watson. We have cracked the case!”
This was worth pursuing. I couldn’t help myself. “Say, boss,” I said as casually as possible. “Did you also drink from the bottle of grape juice that was in there?”
He wouldn’t answer the question. How telling.
Then he said, “Oh, was that yours?”
“Yes. It was.” Emphasis on the was. Rest in peace, my dear bottle of grape juice.
WAIT FOR IT. HERE COMES THE KICKER THAT MAKES THIS A TALE WORTH TELLING…
“Oh, I didn’t know who’s that was.”
Excuse me??? What the fuck?????? You unimaginable bastard!
You didn’t know who the grape juice belonged to, therefore you drank it. I see.
Words fail me at a time like this. Seriously. What can you possibly say to that?
“Simple logic, Captain. When ownership of the grape juice is indeterminate, logic suggests you drink it anyway.”
So yeah, I wasn’t really planning to talk about my new job quite so soon, but forces have allied against me. There are usually pros and cons associated with most any decision, and switching jobs was no exception. But I still don’t know, even after a month on the new job, if I’m in the frying pan or in the fire. Either way, one thing is certain. I’m fucking cooked. But more on that later.
Boy I just can’t wait to go to work today.
As a blabbermouth blogger I relish the irony of posting this one…
This morning Twitter washed up a tweet at my feet. It caught my eye and provided inspiration for today’s ramblings.
The tweet said, “Have you ever sent an embarrassing email or text? Find out how can you possibly recover from that?!” And it linked to this post: What to Do After Sending an Embarrassing Text or Email.
That blog did make some good points. Like how easy it is to make honest mistakes and send messages where you didn’t really intend. Oops. Now the main theme of the blog, politeness, is no extra-special concern of mine, but I don’t necessarily enjoy going out of my way to make people upset. For example, I’d actually feel bad if any of the douchebags in my life ever found out what I’d written about them here behind their backs and in front of the whole internet. Touching, eh?
We’ve all made mistakes and routed embarrassing stuff to the wrong place, right? I thought of two examples from my life and I thought I’d share them.
The first involves a speakerphone and happened about 10 to 15 years ago when I worked at a big company. One of my duties was producing work plans based on the needs of another department. It took about two to three hours in a hectic and crazy setting to pump out one of these plans. And I had to do at least one of them per day, sometimes more.
This other department was the Alpha Dog and I was the Omega Dog. That meant I had to take their shit. No matter what. They often changed their minds, made last-minute decisions, and pulled some really stupid crap. This department directly serviced our external customers and would often make amazing concessions and bend the rules to land the sale – of course, at my expense.
So I found myself at the end of the work day. It was time to go home. Another eight hours of my life shot to hell in the name of money. And I had just finished the work plan. The phone rang and it was my boss. She proceeded to tell me that this other department wanted to get some last minute changes in. Changes that would necessitate remaking the work plan. We were way beyond their deadline for submitting changes, and accepting them would mean another two to three hours of work. Gratis, on me, of course, since I was a salaried professional.
Little did I know how legendary the words that were about to come out of my mouth would be.
“I’m sorry, but the answer is no,” I told her. “You can tell that department to rot in hell.”
Yes. “Rot in hell.” I said it. Those were my exact words and I am not embellishing or exaggerating in any way shape or form. That’s exactly how it all went down. Oh yeah. Sing it for me, Johnny Cash: I was there when it happened so I guess I oughtta know.
It was at this particular moment that two things happened in quick succession. First, I heard a clicking sound, like a phone hastily being picked up from the base unit. Second, my boss informed me I had been on speakerphone during the entire call and that the department head himself was sitting in her office. And he had heard every word.
Booyah! Slam dunk! FTW! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. LOL! ROFL! Dirty Sanchez!
Speaking about politeness, by the way, isn’t there some etiquette for letting people know when they are on the fucking speakerphone? Perhaps even when discussing something somewhat delicate and the person of interest to that conversation is in the very same fucking room?
Somehow I survived that day and lived on to get into even more trouble.
The second incident isn’t quite as exciting as the first. I happened while working as a programmer for a flighty ecommerce outfit. Oh the stories I could tell about that place. Maybe more on that later.
The owner had set up the email system so all bounced email went directly to him. You can see where this is going, right?
So one day I whip out an email to the head programmer where I called the boss’s wife “a little bit dim.” Not the worst insult of all time, but not something I really wanted to say to her face, either. I then made some sort of typo in the email address (not on purpose) and clicked “send.”
About five seconds later, the boss, who sat just a few feet away, looks over at me and says, “Dude, your email just bounced.”
Oh shit. Snap! No you didn’t!
Yep. I just called his wife “dim” and the email went right to him. I did think she was dim, but she was actually nice, too, so I felt bad. A few apologies and then a few weeks of awkwardness and then all returned mostly to normal.
The moral of these stories is don’t say anything about someone that you aren’t willing to say to their face. And if you still do, be really, really sure you can get away with it. 🙂
Today I’m coming to you LIVE from a particularly dark recess of the Abyss. As such I’ll expend extra effort to infuse my writings with vileness and contemptability (a word I just invented).
I may have mentioned the first incident in this post before. If so, I apologize.
On a day that was dark and dreary shortly before our last Christmas, I was compelled by the will of my employer to visit the local post office on a matter of some urgency. (Some of our bullshit products were needed overnight. It’s true. Some people just can’t wait for our useless crap.)
After an interminable period of time in that postal center that can only be termed as “hell” my business was finally concluded and I was exiting the building. To do so one is forced to traverse a formidable pair of large and heavy doors. I was walking behind a comely lass who was carrying an infant in one of those car seats that converts into a basket with a handle.
A gent in front of the lass exited first and with nary a glance behind, let that heavy door swing back hard in the direction of the young mother. WHAMM! The door hit that woman and stopped her dead in her tracks.
What a motherfucker! I thought to myself.
More recently I was back in that building again. This time I was coming up the steps, still outside the building and about to enter. I pulled open the door and saw two people coming my way. I stepped aside and held the door open so they could pass.
It was then that something fairly extraordinary happened.
The woman stopped in the doorway, turned to me, and with breathless excitement exclaimed, “Thank you! Thank you so very very much!”
No, I’m not embellishing that at all. The moment was spectacular because of the sheer look of amazement on her face. She was literally stunned that one human would do that for another. The moment really shocked me. Have we become such a society of assholes that the mere act of rendering such a trivial moment of courtesy should be hailed as such a noteworthy event?
I always hold doors open for people (not just women) because I believe it is the right thing to do. When people do it for me I always say, “thank you.” To be honest, most of the time people stroll through and never say thanks or even give me a glance, as if I’m their personal doorman. The mere fact that this woman thanked me at all was remarkable in and of itself.
So that’s today’s story. Hopefully it provides a little grist for the mill. I know I find my thoughts returning to these events time and time again. No matter how much I think about it, though, I don’t know how to restore to our country what has been lost. Simple manners, politeness and etiquette. I can’t imagine any possible solution that would work. We are truly the “me” generation.