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"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion September 6, 2001

#57 Things I shouldn't have to tell you

I realize by now that I can try to teach the world forever, and it will always be an uphill battle. There are some things, though, that you just should know. Living and functioning in this world requires some minimums of knowledge. However, I find that some people fall short of even these minimums. To that end, I am doing a public service to try an educate you, the public. Learn, and go out and teach your knowledge about what it takes to live in our society.

I have not been in too many women’s bathrooms, so maybe this is gender specific, but time after time, I enter public restrooms only to find that the toilet left unflushed. The urinals are bad enough, but the other… There is nothing—with the possible exception of a Barbra Streisand concert—that I would rather see less than someone else’s work. Come on, people, you can do better than this. You’re not two years old any more. If you are one of these people, STOP IT NOW! If you are not an offender, but know one, make sure you make them as big as social pariah, as say, those bastards that bring 29 items into the express lane at the grocery store.

And while I am on the subject of all things bathroom, I have observed more behavior that makes me cringe. I’m talking about basic sanitation. I don’t know how to get this point across better than a song that used to run during cartoons when I was nine: “Wash your hands after going to the bathroom/Wash your hands after changing babies too/Cause we don’t want to catch hepatitis/And we don’t want hepatitis to catch you—Who? You!” I’m sorry I had to resort to a song, but that’s the state we’re in today. People, even if it’s just the cursory quick run of your hands under cold water, at least make the appearance of an effort to be clean.

I think I have mentioned this before, but it’s time to do so again. There is nothing worse than to pick up the phone and hear the following: “Who’s this?” Hey, dumbass, you called me. You know who I am, or at least have a 1 in 4 chance. I have no idea who you are. Tell me who you are, and then ask to speak to whomever. At the very least, you can politely ask to talk. Don’t demand to know my name; all you will do is put me on the defensive.

Okay. You’re out driving around, and your lane is about end. The person in the lane next to you lets you in. What do you do? If you have any manners, you wave. No big deal; you don’t have to perform a genuflect there on the freeway—just a small wave of the hand will do. It’s only a token, but it lets the other driver know that you realize they yielded when they didn’t have to, and you appreciate it. It has been brought to my attention that majority of people who don’t do this are women—and before you get all mad and send me some feministy harangue, most of the women I have talked to support this view; even my own mother. She claimed the reason is that a woman doesn’t want the guy to think she’s coming on to him. Of course, she also told me she was 29 for at least half a decade, so I am unsure as to the validity of her claim. Maybe I am giving women a bad break. Forget about that. Whoever you are, make sure you take the time to give the little wave out there on the roads. Society will be a much better place.

We can argue all day about whether a tip should be 15 or 20%. I leave that up to your own conscience. One thing should not be in argument, though. When your party stays at the table longer than normal—whether you are having a business lunch or talking after church—you are denying the server the use of that table for another customer. In this case, as my dad likes to say, you rent the table. It is just like a U-Haul truck: If I keep it an extra day, I pay another thirty bucks. Whatever formula you use to tip, this is void when you sit there forever. You have the right to sit there, but take care of the servers accordingly, and they will be grateful for it and remember you, which will pay dividends in the future.

Finally, I have found a disturbing number of people lacking basic knowledge in human anatomy. Look, some things will never be resolved. Ginger or Mary Ann? Crunchy peanut butter or smooth? Backstreet Boys or NYSNC? This one, however, is without question. I am of course talking about the perplexing moral issue of laps. I have heard many an educated person claim that the lap is part of the body, like an arm or a leg or a spleen. Just for the record: laps are created when one sits down, and their uses are for portable computers, quarter-pounders (while driving), and shapely young women. Laps are not—and never have been—body parts. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Oh, and one more thing, although I’m sure you know it already: Never ever stop in the middle of a Ho-Down!

September 6, 2001


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