All throughout history, humans have been fond of making lists of how to behave. The Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Laws Of The Twelve Tables, or in modern times, that horrifying mass of documents known as “law”. Well, we all pretty much know by now that lying, stealing, cheating, and killing are bad; frankly, it’s just a lot of rationalization that makes them seem okay when conducting business. But in our day-to-day lives, we seem to have lost touch with some of the basics. Below are five simple suggestions for better modern living. Feel free to let us know if we missed anything.
Lose The F-Bomb
Sure, it makes you sound tough and indifferent to trivial problems, but maybe that’s the problem. This isn’t about being prudish. The F-Word has its place as a powerful punctuation for a heated remark, but it not only loses its impact when used repeatedly, it makes for rather inelegant expression. Besides, you kiss your mom with that mouth. And while you’re at it, why not lose damning people and things, and stop invoking the names of the underworld? If these words DON’T have metaphysical powers, why use them? They’re just inarticulate. And if they DO, well, enough said. Just be careful – you may invoke THE END OF DAYS by accident.
Put Yourself Second
We’ve had at least fifty years of pop psychology and consumer culture telling us that we – as individuals – are the most important thing in the world. Well, look where that has gotten us. We’re obese, have heart problems, waste millions of tons of food while half the world starves, and road rage is at an all-time high. And everybody is surly at the grocery store and the mall as they buy more stuff to fill their emptiness. Next time you’re at the checkout line, let the other person go first. Hold doors for people. At four-way stops, go last instead of edging in passive-aggressively. Next time you feel like ordering “pizza doubles”, bake your own SINGLE at home, and send the savings to a food charity.
Fight Over Who Pays
No, not the way most people do it, as in that awkward moment at the end of lunch when everyone busts out the calculators because they forgot to ask for separate checks. Next time just pay the whole darn thing. And if someone else pulls the same trick first, argue politely twice against it, it shows class. Arguing three times is just rude. You will be shocked by the revolution this creates amongst your dining companions. It also works at the theater, the ice cream parlor, the cafe, the ball game, and when playing golf, whether mini or life-size.
Say Excuse Me, Please, and Thank You
I can’t tell you how many times a day I see someone grunting and snorting on the sidewalk or in a store aisle because someone is blocking their path. It’s quite comical in a way, given the startled smile and courteousness one usually gets in response if they just try saying “excuse me”. Likewise with the ancient magic incantation “please”. It adds mystical power to the statement “I’d like a lowfat lowfoam double vanilla latte”. And when you say “thank you” as your request is granted, members of the Secret Cult of Please and Thank You will grant you an additional secret blessing of “you’re welcome”, letting you know you are welcome to do this all again some time.
Learn How To Use A Mobile Phone. Politely.
It’s amazing that technology has advanced sufficiently that you can call your kids at home from your base camp as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro using a device that fits in your shirt pocket. And it’s amazing that you’re smart enough to get a job that pays well enough to buy one of these incredible devices. Now maybe it’s time you got smart enough to use it in a civilized fashion. Some simple rules:
1.) Unless it’s your stockbroker calling in the middle of a market crash or your dying mother calling from her deathbed, don’t interrupt face-to-face conversations to take a call. And if you MUST glance at the phone to know who called, apologize to your physically present companion
2.) When dealing with checkout clerks, waiters, barristas, bartenders, delivery people, or anyone else who is merely trying to SERVE you, get off the phone, or put your caller on hold. Everyone will be happier. Perhaps most of all your friend who can’t figure out why you’re saying “how much” and “keep it”.
3.) Turn the darn thing off at the theater, the restaurant, the cafe, the funeral, the library, and anywhere else that people don’t want to hear a crappy robot version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. Failure to observe the RTFM Protocol (Read The Freakin’ Manual) is not a legitimate excuse. If you can figure out how to make a call, you can figure out how to turn the ringer off.
Stand up and greet people when they join you at a restaurant or cafe
When you’re with a friend and run into someone they don’t know, INTRODUCE them.
Embrace people when greeting them, instead of offering the “white man handshake”
Say “hi” and smile at strangers. Maybe even say “how are you today?” or “Nice day, isn’t it?”