You are annoying.
But it’s OK, because so am I.
We all do things that irritate the people around us. You might be the gal who pushes a full shopping cart up to the express checkout line, or the guy who smells like he took a hit from a cologne-filled water balloon. Maybe you are one of those people who constantly clears your throat, or hums to yourself all day. Maybe you repeat certain phrases a little too often (“boo-yah,” perhaps?).
Maybe you just talk too much, period.
Whatever it is that you and I do to annoy strangers, friends and loved ones, we can be fairly certain our minor annoyances will carry no serious societal repercussions. I say “fairly certain” because annoying the wrong person at the wrong time can result in your untimely death, which is what happened to 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Jan. 13 in Tampa, Fla.
BY NOW MOST people have heard Oulson was shot by a 71-year-old retired police officer during an argument over cell phone texting at a matinee showing of Lone Survivor. And the sentiment of everyone who has chosen to share their opinion with me on this case of movie-theater-texting-gone horribly-wrong can best be summed up by paraphrasing comedian Chris Rock: “I’m not saying I would have killed him. But I understand.”
In other words, this guy did what most of us fantasize about doing when some chowderhead in a darkened theater thinks it’s perfectly fine to illuminate a 10-foot radius so he can LOL and OMG with somebody who, odds are, is a chowderhead as well.
All of the facts in the case have not yet come to light, so it’s premature to jump to conclusions regarding the shooting’s justification, or lack thereof. What is clear is that a disagreement over a mildly discourteous behavior ended in a killing.
It doesn’t have to be this way, folks. If all theatergoers could realize it’s rude to disrupt the show by talking and texting, then the theater experience would be more enjoyable and more people would go to movies. There would be less stress and people would live longer. The theater industry would expand and create more jobs to stimulate the economy. Everybody wins. Nobody gets hurt.
But why stop at movie theaters? Think about how much better place the world would be if we all made a conscious, across-the-board effort to be less annoying humans. There would be peace, harmony and increased life expectancies throughout the land. And the beautiful thing is, it wouldn’t cost anybody a dime.
TO HELP YOU on your quest to irritant-free living, I’ve come up with a handy-dandy list of 10 Things to Start Doing Right Now To Help Save The World®:
• Flush the toilet in public restrooms. Nobody wants to see anything you’ve left behind.
• Keep right except to pass. If you drive the speed limit or slower on a multilane road, stay in the right lane. There are people who want to drive faster and they want to pass you. They can’t easily do this if you are clogging the passing lane.
• Say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate, such as when asking a waitress for a refill or when someone holds a door open for you. It’s also OK to say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.”
• Keep your fidgeting to yourself. Have trouble sitting still? Not a problem. Tapping your foot on the back of my seat? Big problem.
• Turn your car stereo down. Not everyone shares your taste in music, and they actually might be trying to hear their own stereo instead of yours. Bonus: You’ll look smarter, because most people recognize a person’s intelligence is proportionally inverse to their tolerance for noise.
• Use garbage cans. You pass by waste receptacles several times during a typical day. So why do you insist on tossing your child’s Happy Meal and the contents of your ashtray out the driver’s-side window?
• Lower your voice. You are not E.F. Hutton. Nobody is interested in hearing your private conversation. Trust me, the person on the other end of your cell phone can hear you just fine if you talk in a normal tone.
• Don’t be an Internet troll. If you deliberately try to upset people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments on Internet forums, you are a coward. But you probably knew that.
• Don’t block aisles. Store aisles are like little highways. You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of a highway, would you?
• Don’t be a line-cutter. When you come upon a group of people who appear to be waiting in a patient and orderly fashion for the delivery of goods or services, it is called a “line.” Your place should be behind the last person.
There you have it – 10 extremely free and easy ways to make the world a better place. I can’t guarantee you that following my 10-point plan will bring you riches or eternal happiness, but I can promise you will be much less likely to get shot.
And, really, isn’t that good enough?