Someone recently accused me of being a moaner. I was indignant: ‘Preposterous!’ I thundered, ‘I’m not a moaner, I’m really happy about the world. What utter hogwash – I never moan.’ He responded, ‘Ummmm, you have a whole website dedicated to complaining about stuff.’ – Errrrrr accurate. Aaaaaand fuck you!
It’s not that I don’t like people. On the contrary, I adore the people in my life, that’s why they’re in my life – because they kick ass and make me happy! But, reality would have it that I occasionally come into contact with some less than awesome specimens. I recently got my knickers all twisted up about people who don’t know the rules of conversation and now it would seem I’m to be forced into broadening my advice-giving to general life etiquette (people genuinely don’t seem to know this stuff – otherwise I wouldn’t bother. I would spend my time knitting.)
So, here goes:
If someone has their earphones in on public transport, that is modern day, polite sign-language for ‘I wish to be left alone’. Please do not try to engage me in conversation beyond ‘Excuse me, is this train going to Victory Monument?’
Case in point: recently my friend was in a cafe, working on the laptop, earphones on. An acquaintance came in, they exchanged polite greetings. Fine. Then, she proceeded to sit down, order coffee and merrily talk for an hour despite having eyes and therefore the ability to see that my friend was busy. (I am aware that I sound like the WORST kind of anti-social Londoner but I don’t care. It’s going to get worse – strap yourself in.)
Next up: on the social dance-floor, if you ask a person to dance, exclaiming as you take the floor ‘I LOVE this song’, for the love of GOD, don’t go ahead and squawk it in their ear. This truly happened to me, in bachata class. The offender couldn’t speak let alone sing Spanish. Most distressing.
Help me out here: what is with people who stand in the centre of the escalator and, as it ascends, when they can see the train standing right there at the platform with the doors open, STAY RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE. Why? WHY don’t they acknowledge it even at all? Just up their pace a little bit? Or at least move over so I can tear up the remaining steps and experience the sweet defeat of reaching the doors just as they close (great excuse for a nice big swear). Same goes for people who stop dead in the middle of precisely where I’m trying to walk because they’re looking at their phone and they’ve presumably read a life changing whatsapp message. Kindly move out of the flow of human traffic before you look at the picture of your newborn nephew or I will step on you and I will not be sorry. While we’re in the arena of public transport: who are the people who fully lean against the pole on a busy train? So that if I want to hold onto it to stop myself from tumbling down the carriage, I have to find a little gap, like behind their neck or where their back arches and then, if they shift their position, and feel my hand there they look at me like I’M the weirdo.
Moving on, please don’t stand next to me in the lift, sniff the air, turn to me, sniff again, shuffle closer, sniff ME and then ask, ‘What’s that? That’s nice, is that your moisturiser? What is that?’ (True Story)
That. is. creepy.
Meanwhile, in boy-land, a friend of mine shudderingly recounts the cringeworthy story of when, in an otherwise completely empty gents’, he was happily peeing into the urinal and a man came in and, with complete disregard for the unspoken but universally understood man-code , stood totally unnecessarily RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, and proceeded to stare intently at his junk. As if this were not awful enough, the man went on to break rule number two: he MADE EYE CONTACT, smiled and said, ‘Nice!’
One further example of heinous disregard for (what we thought were) the globally appreciated rules of co-existence, as eye-rollingly repeated to me by the recipient who was, at the time, on a date. This: ‘Awwwww, you’re so cute; I love your fat bits!’
Who did not send the don’t-say-FAT-on-a-date memo to this person?
People of the world: DO BETTER!
However, recently, another friend posted on Facebook about an incident where a stranger told her off for putting on her make up on the train; apparently he was deeply troubled by it. Now, the hasty application of eye-liner whilst on public transport is something I participate in on a regular basis because of my perpetual tardiness. So, it would seem that we all fall somewhere on the spectrum of offensiveness and while I swan about pouring scorn and shaking my head in disdainful disbelief at morons, I imagine there are those who find my behaviour utterly incomprehensible.