Mind your…. upbringing

I just skimed through an article in the Style section of a major metropolitan newspaper. Though I don’t live in the city that this newspaper is written in, I do happen to like the insite it affords me to those who live in a more hectic world.

To my surprise, this article was about etiquette. “Would the demographic of people that read the style section of this newspaper need to know on the new world of manners?” I asked myself. It turned out that, yes indeed we do. The article cited the reasons why people gravitate to the more gentile and self-confident polite person. Aparently the citizens that read a Sunday paper need to be reminded that rude people suck, overbearing ungroomed people don’t get laid, and you can’t get ahead without acting professional.

In all honesty, I don’t think that my manners are all that bad. Then again, I do not sup with royalty or captains of industry. What good are manners when you just want to come off as a ‘regular joe’ in this relaxed-fit flat-fronted world of reality-tv? The sources quoted in the article blame this sloppy trend on rushed-parenting and the faceless interactions we have in the highly abreviated colloquial exchanges on the Interweb.

According to this article, sales of etiquette books and seminars on manners are on the rise. While there are no concrete numbers on the subject, I don’t think that this is a phenomenon in middle america. We have big cities in America’s heartland, but we’re not overcrowded to the point that we don’t smile at strangers once in a while.

I do like the stuffy event served on fine china and an array of flatware, but knowing which water glass to drink from, and which fork to use doesn’t have any bearing on how I am as a person. I don’t blame my hard-working immigrant parents for not teaching me the compenents of a dinner table like the article suggests. Manners and refinement should be of your own choosing.

If the universe that you choose to live in is a white-linen service 4-course meal followed by a rousing power-suit wearing business meeting, go and spend money on etiquette books and lessons. If you choose to live your life in a blue-collar world full of people who just live by the golden rule, then stay away from the formal trappings of this neo-Victorian ‘movement.

wait, this ‘is good for the country’ ?

A certain car manufacturer has been running a commercial touting how wonderful their products are and the wonderful deal the public is getting when they stop into showrooms. The sentiment doesn’t really stick with me and it’s not because I don’t like their products. Look carefully at the titles and positions of the people on these commercials. The majority of these folks are managers, designers, or somewhere in advertising.

These ‘professionals’ are used to represent the face of the brands. It pains me to think why the people who work in manufacturing aren’t featured. If I can’t be shown proud people bailing the products of their company, I question the quality of the product. The tack that the advertisers are taking focuses on the ’employee’ and these smiling white collar people aren’t cutting it.

Unfortunately these commercials come on the heels of a huge layoff of laborers, so there maybe some backlash in the factory parking lot when they see a UAW member sells out in a commercial. All union bitterness aside, a entire plant, shift of workers, or group of workers that would be proud to say they make the cars would be sufficient.

Fake me out, use beautiful and happy people that aren’t employees. Even better, just have beautiful people say that they received the employee discount.

learn your vegetables

I don’t wait for the refrigerator or pantry to go completely bare, or do I keep it stocked full of goods. This makes for quick and simple shopping that people in big cities with no cars enjoy, without the humiliation of schlepping plastic bags for more than two blocks. By American standards this is impractical, but I happen to like the notion that the grocery store will host rotted meat and moldy vegetables rather than have them overstay their welcome in my refrigerator.

I was on one of my quick trips, thinking of the things I don’t have for a simple meal: Korean spiced pork ribs, sesame cabbage slaw, and chocolate ice cream. This was going to be a simple, with the exception of the cabbage, since it doesn’t have a bar code on it. Because of the turn over and the price I rarely by produce in the grocery store, but given the relative convenience of one-stop-shopping I couldn’t turn it down. All of my items fit in a hand basket, but because of the damn cabbage, I didn’t want to use the self-checkout lane. Though the process is “self driven” when produce is placed on a scale it is also put in front of a camera where a clerk 5 yards away tries to assess its phyla and looks up the PLU code through the plastic bag.

Inevitably, you hear a disembodied voice asking “What is it?”
You reply with “It’s an onion”, or “Buddha’s hand ginger”.

Time passes while the PLU code is looked up, and you wonder why you ever stepped foot in the self-checkout lane with an unmarked item. One would never willingly buy condoms, enema, or suppositories without a price tag clearly marked or the bar code obscured.

I chose a cashier-attended checkout lane. The cashier was a new face, so I knew I was in for a bit of a wait. The woman in front of me had successfully scanned mints, cookies, and soymilk (a sure sign of a troublemaker, buying soy milk that isn’t vacuum-sealed). There were two items left, a 24-pack of bottled water and… lettuce. The red-leaf blush bibb lettuce was scanning in at $2.99 a pound. Obviously nobody being a food expert in the immediate area, the customer was confident in saying that the PLU code was incorrect. The codes for hydroponic, organic, Amish, fetish, and oompah-loompa lettuce and they were all $2.99 a pound. Visibly shaken, the customer asked to see the book of PLU codes. She stood back and cocked her head up so she didn’t have to put on glasses. “How about… bibb. Did you try that? Or maybe it’s the Boston bibb.”
This woman needed to die right then and there. It’s one thing to argue the price of something you feel is unfair. It’s absolutely ridiculous to argue the price of something you don’t know about. This woman would be laughed off a lot of a foreign car lot if she said that the price of a luxury sedan should be the price of a domestic sub-compact car.

I stared at this woman with hatred. She knew that she was holding up the line and tried to diffuse the situation by accepting the price and a modest laughter. Her jovial “ha ha ha, isn’t the universe funny like that” attitude came crashing down after the cashier said they would require an override to complete her order. Since the lettuce was voided so many times, it had triggered a lock on her order requiring a manager to assess the voided objects. The customer sighed and assumed a posture of annoyance. I glanced over at other checkout lanes and saw some people finishing up their business and happily walking out the door. I wished those people harm too, and as I was starting my incantation of death to these people, the woman in front of me had the nerve to say; “You know, I was supposed to pick up my husband like 15 minutes ago.”

This statement of this woman’s agenda tried to make her seem important and rushed. To the cashier, the bagger, and the three other people behind me this statement meant that I could have first stab at her.

impact resistant

Just recently my brother and his lovely fiancee were magically transformed through the power of ceremony and lackluster banquet food, into a married couple. I witnessed this from within the wedding party of what could possibly be the largest crowd they will ever have to entertain. Revelers and well-wishers from contrasting paths all converging into one room warmed from the open bar, garrulously mingling from the sheer emotion, and puzzled by my bitterness.

It was obvious that these people were glad to see another milestone in my brother’s life, and they only attended because he had a significant enough impact on their lives. As I, the reclusive and silent brother looked onto the crowd, I had to ask myself, “Am I impact resistant?”.

With all the success that one can amass in a lifetime, there’s no other way to get more people to focus on you for such a long time. Sure there are exceptions; one can develop a charismatic sectarian persona, or organize a party for the sale of purses, plastic containers, and sex toys, but there’s no comparison to a wedding. The union predates civilization because even though we didn’t have many reasons to stay faithful to one another, we wanted to ensure that we would procreate with just one other. Men’s base instinct isn’t to nest, and I think that men only attend weddings to confirm that that the groom is willing to leave the realm of choice and plenty. The single men look on with pity and the already married men whisper under their breaths, “sucker”.

I am a horrible cynic and the world feeds that little monster in me every day. Unquantifiable amounts of entitlement and exuberance expressed in all forays of life only makes the beast angrier. This website being my only outlet, one can say that each and every blog entry is a soupçon of its excrement. This wedding really didn’t turn me on, nor did it have anything to feed my inner monster. Does this mean that weddings are some kind of mood stabilizer? Perhaps… or maybe I this just a sign that I’ve been impacted.

Are your world views getting more mature and optimistic? Only your inner cynicism-beast knows for sure!

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