Curmudgeon Public Service Announcement: The Thoughtlessness Radar

Don't do this

Image by Martin Deutsch via Flickr

Why is it that certain rotten behaviors reach, for some, a level of acceptability in their own minds? Why do certain behaviors blip off the courtesy radar into “Well, everyone does it! Why shouldn’t I?”  Daily I see thoughtless acts by otherwise good people because they have become blind to what they’re doing (or not doing).  Here’s a list I’ve been compiling of what I’m talking about broken down in to categories:


  • Not putting your empty shopping cart in the parking lot corrals…especially when the darn thing is five feet away!
  • Throwing your cigarette butts on the ground (and especially near MY car!), often within twelve inch radius of a disposal receptacle.
  • Not bussing your table at fast food restaurants or picnic sites
  • Leaving your clothes in the dressing room in crumpled heaps on the floor
  • Leaving your shopping cart wherever you like when grabbing items from the shelf or yacking with your friends
  • Talking on your cell phone while your groceries are being rung up…and beyond


  • Driving your car up on the sidewalk to get to the mailbox unit (especially YOU dear neighbor who almost ran into me as I stood there getting my own mail);
  • Idling and blocking traffic while waiting for me to vacate my parking spot when there are many other spots a few feet away.  Double GRRRR if you honk at me too;
  • Not having a clue what you want at a fast food drive-through by the time you get to the ordering station;
  • Idling your cars along the curb so your precious darling doesn’t get cold waiting for the school bus but making it harder for drivers to spot children who might dart out between them;
  • Sidling along in the left lane (not a passing lane) until the last second then insisting on being allowed into the slower moving right lane to make a right, no turn signal on, of course, because that would tip me off to your nefarious plan!
  • Parking your car in front of MY house instead of my neighbor’s whom you are visiting, especially if you’re facing the wrong way (Ok, so I’m VERY territorial!)


  • Urging your dog to pee in my yard instead of yours; double grr if they poop and you don’t pick it up right away;
  • Blowing your nose at the table;
  • Abandoning your laundry at the coin-op once you’ve gotten your clothes into the dryer; No, I will NOT fold your clothes if I get sick of waiting for you to remove your items (thank goodness I don’t use coin ops anymore!)
  • Texting during movies–those ads at the beginning telling you to turn off your cell phone?  They mean YOU!
  • Leaving your trash behind in the movie theatre (I must confess to being blind to this until I met my husband.  No more.  Pack it in; pack it out.)
  • Breaking the spine on a paperback in a bookstore while you peruse / read it then leaving it behind or grabbing a “fresh” copy to buy;
  • Insisting on bringing oversized luggage as carry on so you’ll get free gate check-in while the rest of us paid $20-25 to check ours at the ticket counter;

It’s this type of thoughtlessness, and I might add in some cases, sense of entitlement, that drives me bonkers.

People…please don’t do these things!  We must nip them in the bud and reinforce for our children’s sake at least, WHY these behaviors are rude and inconsiderate.

~A Public Service Message from your darkly romantic curmudgeon.

Your turn.  Please share in the comments any thoughtless behaviors that drive you bonkers.

Smart phones and Dumb Users

iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS

Image via Wikipedia

Until a week ago, I had a company-issued cell phone that made and received calls.  It received text messages too.  No sending of texts, and no data services, however.  I rarely used it.  I’m not fond of talking on the phone and especially cell phones.  My impatience to speak instead of listen doubly damns me on a cell phone with its one-way voice transmissions and nano-second delays.  When one of my employees laughed at my Motorola Razer phone, I bit the bullet.  Time to leave the two-thousands decade behind and enter the twenty-tens.

I acquired a personal use cell phone at my own expense, well my husband, aka the Silverback, got one for me.  I told him what features I wanted and said I didn’t care beyond that other than the phone be a pretty color.  Yes, I am that shallow.

Me:  Purple would be my first choice.

Silverback:  Or pink, right?  (He smirks a little.)

Me: (in total seriousness) Pink would be ok too, I suppose.  Red would also work.  Just be sure it has unlimited data and text messaging.

Silverback:  Do you care if it’s not an iPhone?

Me:  Well, I’ve heard those are nice.

Silverback:  Apps for the androids are free but not so much for the iPhones.

Me: (flips hand) Yeah, ok, whatever.

Silverback arms himself for battle with the local wireless vendors.  Buying a cell phone and plan is like buying a car.  The sales reps salivate when they see you coming and will quickly talk you into a more expensive plan with all sorts of add-ons if you’re not careful.  Nevertheless, I trusted the Silverback. I certainly didn’t want to haggle with the wireless merchants.

Over the course of several days, he brought home literature.  He even nagged me into visiting a Best Buy after we had a “date night”.  Nearly twenty years later and I’m still expected to “put out” for a nice meal.  Sigh…

I strolled through the phones as a girl still wearing a training bra but sporting a sleeve of tattoos droned on about the various phones and plans.  They.ALL.Looked.The.Same.To.Me.

The Silverback left even more confused than before but a little in love with Buffy the Best Buy salesgirl.

Me:  So what’s the difference between a Smartphone and an Android?

Silverback:  They’re the same.

Me:  Then why two names?

Silverback:  (sighs) All androids are smart phones but not all smart phones are androids.

Me:  (rubbing hands together over the logic challenge) So is an iPhone a smartphone?

Silverback:  Yes, only it thinks it’s smarter.

Me:  haha

One day, the Silverback returns from his hunting in the jungles of AT&T, T-Mobile, Virgin, and Verizon with two new phones.

Me:  Ooh, pretty!  Mine is pink!!

Silverback:  It’s black.  That’s just the case.  I got us [insert boring details of phone model, the plan, plan provider, added features, apps, etc. yada, yada] and it only cost $150 a month for all four phones. (our two sons got cheapie no frills phones too).

Me:  $150.  Wow.  The case only covers the back?  Where’s the sense in that?

Silverback:  You have to be able to touch the screen.

Me:  Oh.  Mine doesn’t have buttons?

Silverback:  No.  Buttons meant less screen space.  You’ll be using it more for data than text, right?  I figured you’d want a larger viewing screen.

He had me there.  This is why I love him.  He really does listen to me.

Me:  It’s got fingerprints all over it.  Is there some kind of cleaning cloth that came with it?

Silverback: (deep in concentration figuring out his own phone) Hmm?  Just use an eyeglass cloth.

I settle down next to him on the sofa and start pushing buttons, checking out ring tones.  Mostly, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  The Silverback is tap-tap-tapping away on his, grunting with approval.

My phone rings.  I panic.  I turn to the Silverback.

Me:  What do I do?!

Silverback:  Just look at the screen and find where it says “Answer call” and tap that.

Me:  Oh.  (tap)  Hello?

Silverback:  It’s just me.  I wanted to get you in my contacts.  Bye.

Me:  How do I hang up?

Silverback:  Tap the screen.

Me:  It’s black…oh, wait.  I see now.  How do I add you to my contacts?

A verbose tutorial ensues.

Silverback:  Ok stop calling me now.

Me:  I don’t mean to but I keep tapping the wrong thing.

More silence and his and hers tapping.

Me:  This internet is way too small to see.

Silverback:  Use your fingers to expand the screen. (he demonstrates the motion with his fingers on his own phone)

Me:  Oh, got it.

I proceed to surf the web with rapid fire execution on the preloaded sites.  Typing in addresses of my own choosing, however, stymies me.

Me:  How do I get to the symbols above the letters.  The shift only makes them capital and there’s no function key!  The virtual buttons are so tiny, I keep pressing the wrong ones.

Silverback:  Turn the phone sideways.  That’ll make ’em bigger.

Me:  Oh.  But how do I enter the @ symbol for an email address?

Silverback:  Press the 12# key to shift to a numeric key pad.

I curse under my breath because my newer Kindle works the same way and that’s one reason why I miss my first Kindle.  It had separate buttons for numbers and letters.

I still have problems.  I am not a small-framed woman.  I stand about 5’6″ and wear a size 9 shoe.  No comment on the space in between the crown of my head and my feet other than to say I have very small hands and fingers.  I wear a size five and half ring.  The buttons are too damn small even for me.  How the hell do gigantic football players use these things?  How do people text only with their thumbs?  I don’t get it but I’m starting to get all the auto-correct jokes I’d been seeing before I got my smart phone.

And then I realize my problem.  I have become one of “those” people, you know, the ones who hold up the lines at ATMs and self-checkout stores and drive-thrus.  I am not a dumb person–I was Phi Beta Kappa in college and I passed the CPA exam on my first try–but somewhere in the aging process, the circuits have started to slow down a bit.  My kids now explain stuff to me instead of the other way around.

I will not go quietly into the gentle night of computerized technology, however; I will not!  I adore gadgets and I am determined to figure out my lovely (pink encased) HTC Inspire with 4G phone.  I’ll text a post to my blog crowing about it when the day comes…eventually.  The post will be a lot shorter than this one.  Promise.