2006-05-08



Uncivil liberties

There I was on the bus, standing in the aisle near the back as passengers tried to navigate their way to the rear door to clamber off. It was more jam-packed than the Liberal leadership race and, despite my best efforts to let people by, there was little if any wiggle room. Unless I were to crowd-surf above the seats, I simply had nowhere to go.

"You're going to have to move," an amply proportioned lady said to me as she barrelled from the back of the vehicle toward the exit.

Not, "Excuse me, please." Or even, "I'll just squeeze by."

If civility lives, it is primed for Last Rites.

Consider this, from the Financial Post of April 15: "Businesses know that bad manners carry big costs. Recent studies have found that nearly half of all workers have experienced yelling or verbal abuse related to 'desk rage,' that more than half have been seriously distracted from work by rudeness, and that most believe that workplace incivility is out of control."

So, seeing as some of us have yet to file our taxes (OK, I have yet to file my taxes), here are suggested deductions that would both encourage civility and bolster the pocketbook:

Non-refundable tax credits

Multiply total annual income by 0.01 per cent and enter on line 251 if in 2005 you:

(*) Refrained from whistling Sinatra tunes (see Schedule 18) in elevators.

(*) Routinely put the little dividing bar in place after unloading your groceries onto the conveyor belt, so others could begin unloading theirs.

(*) Did not scream, without good reason (see "Dire Emergencies" in the Tax Guide), while standing beside the desk of a co-worker who was on the phone.

(*) Sent at least one thank-you note by regular postal mail.

(*) Did not deposit trash on the IO's lawn.

10 comments:

Agatha said...

IO, you really need to read "Talk to the Hand: the Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six good Reasons to Stay at Home and Bolt the Door). It's an excellent rant. People who say "No problem" in response to "thank you" are among her pet peeves.

The Independent Observer said...

Thanks for the tip, Aggie. But please don't get me wrong. I'm not a Mr. Manners-style etiquette stickler. In fact, I'll settle for anything a notch or two above abject rudeness.

4th Dwarf said...

When someone thanks me for an action that is so small they shouldn't feel obliged to thank me, I say "no problem".

Is Lynne Truss okay with "not at all" or "don't mention it" as alternatives? Just curious. I wouldn't switch. I'm not a "not at all" kind of guy.

Agatha said...

I am personally a fan of "not at all" and "my pleasure". Why say "no problem" when there never was "a problem" on the table?
I am a Ms.Manners etiquette stickler about certain things. I dismissed a young suitor once who never said "please" and "thank you" to waiters. Although he was always polite to me, I felt that he must have some kind of deep character flaw not to be able acknowledge the presence of those serving him. I do, however, accept certain things that perhaps others would not. Another young suitor playfully tossed a piece of parsley in my face at a restaurant. I was ok with that one. Not totally ok, but it wasn't the deal-breaker.

coyote said...

Okay, I'll bite. What was the deal-breaker, Agatha?

Agatha said...

His CD collection was abysmal. I was frightened by what I saw. I had no choice but to flee.
Goodness gracious, I hope my shallowness isn't showing through...

coyote said...

I don't see this as shallow, ma'am. It's the same as sneaking an early peek at a prospective partner's bookshelves -- merely good policy.

I suspect that I am just as unlikely over the long run to cotton to somebody with a full, hidden set of Harlequin Romances in their boudoir, no matter how well they present in other areas, as you would be to cozy up to a prospective gentleman caller with a comprehensive collection of Whitesnake, Anthraxx and Slayer CDs. These kindsa things bespeak a certain troubling divergence of ways. Unless, of course, you happen to like death metal... or inferior formula fiction featuring Fabio barechested on the dust jacket...

Diong said...

It is "uncivil" to use copyright image without permission or any other citation right?

The irony...

The Independent Observer said...

Touché, Diong... I should give credit where it's due.

We bloggers basically take it for granted that if something is hanging out there on the web for all to see, it is perfectly OK to link to it. At least that's the law in Canada, where we live. But maybe we should be more sensitive about these things.

A shame you decided to answer the question about copyright before we could discuss it (in a civil manner, of course).

Still, readers can check out Diong's arresting artwork on his site, Objects and Pixels.

Here are Diong's thoughts on his 2005 work Crowded Bus Ride:

"I really hate the feeling of being crowded with so many people. This work is based on personal experience; I rode the bus everyday when I was in the Philippines. Being in a crowded bus was bad, being in a crowded bus in traffic was worse... then being in a crowded bus when it was raining/flooding was the worst commute experience ever for me."

4th Dwarf said...

I'm not so sure y're accurately statin' the law, IO.

If we're speaking of civility, another polite thing we can do is not directly link to a photo on a site where the owner is paying for bandwidth, which might have been the case for Diong.

Perhaps rather than replacing Diong's excellent painting with a photo that violates the Sydney Morning Herald's copyright, we should ask Diong if he would mind us using his image with attribution.