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Tit for tat. November 30, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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The holidays tend to bring out the best in people. And, as our friend Ben and Silence Dogood have been reminded on our Thanksgiving travels, they also tend to bring out the worst. We like to think of these behavioral lapses as tests of character. So we’ve created a little test of our own. For each incident of bad behavior, there are four possible reactions. Which would you choose?

 

1. A car comes towards you in the opposite lane with its brights on, making it difficult for you to see. You:

a. Ignore it and think of something else.

b. Flash your brights briefly in case they didn’t realize theirs were on.

c. Complain about how horrible other drivers are for the next hour.

d. Turn on your brights to blind them. That’ll show ‘em!

 

2. A telemarketer calls from the Arglebargle Insurance Company. You:

a. Already have caller ID, so you ignore the call.

b. Say “No thank you” and hang up.

c. Tell that idiot exactly what you think of telemarketers and telemarketing in general and insurance companies in particular, then slam down the phone.

d. Make increasingly sarcastic responses to the telemarketer’s pitch. (Example: You ask if they’d be interested in buying your vintage collection of adhesive bandages, which, though slightly used, are still, you think, a better deal than insurance, since they might actually help in an emergency and you only have to pay for them once.) After prolonging the conversation as long as possible, you get off the phone, hugely pleased with yourself and already anticipating the next telemarketing call.

 

3. You order a salad with dressing on the side. The server brings your salad with the dressing already on it. You:

a. See that it’s the dressing you ordered, at least, and decide it’s no big deal.

b. Point out the error but say you’ll eat it anyway.

c. Demand that the salad be returned to the kitchen and that you receive a fresh salad with the dressing on the side. When your server returns with another salad, dressing on the side, insist that they bring you two extra containers of dressing. After all, it’s not like you didn’t want plenty of dressing on your salad! You just wanted to put it on yourself. 

d. Stiff the server when the bill comes. That incompetent moron didn’t deserve a tip anyway.

 

4. You’re behind a car that’s crawling in a no-passing zone. You:

a. Recognize that there’s nothing you can do until the car turns off or you get to a passing zone, so you put on a favorite CD and ride it out.

b. Drive one inch from the jerk’s rear bumper to give him a hint.

c. Give the jackass the finger, lean on the horn, and shout obscenities.

d. Ignore the solid line, roar around the guy, then slam back into your lane right in front of him and start going 5 miles an hour. Let him see how he likes it! 

 

5. For the second year running, Aunt Ethel has given little Mary a copy of The Hobbit for Christmas. You:

a. Send Aunt Ethel a nice thank-you note, then pass the extra copy to a friend’s family, donate it to the library, or take it to a used bookstore and let Mary choose another book in exchange. 

b. Tell Aunt Ethel that, contrary to what she apparently believes, you’re actually not trying to amass a Guinness record collection of copies of The Hobbit.

c. Dig out the present Aunt Ethel sent you last year and send it back to her instead of the one you were planning to buy. She obviously won’t remember it anyway.

d. Regift Aunt Ethel with the most disgusting present you’ve gotten.

 

6. You’re standing in yet another line at a public restroom, and both the people in front of and behind you are yammering away into their cell phones. You:

a. Make a mental note to ask Miss Manners to devote a future column to cell phone etiquette.

b. Imagine what you would say if you were writing Miss Manners’s column on cell phone etiquette.

c. Slam your heavy purse into the knee of the person in front of you, then, while apologizing profusely, step backwards and “accidentally” stomp on the foot of the person behind you. My, you’re having a clumsy day!

d. Once you get in a stall, start talking loudly and inanely as if you were on your own cell phone. Maybe they’ll see how obnoxious it is.

 

7. Your neighbor’s dog has come over and pooped on your lawn. You:

a. Clean up the poop and decide to wait to see if it happens again before mentioning it to your neighbor.

b. Demand that your neighbor come over and clean up his dog’s mess.

c. Go after that stupid mutt with a rolled-up newspaper.

d. Put the poop in the neighbor’s mailbox. Talk about your special delivery!  

 

8. You’ve been standing in a checkout line for half an hour. When the cashier hands you your receipt, you see that she’s forgotten to give you the 57 cents off on your Supertroll Tilkatoy. You:

a. Decide that it’s not worth it to bother the cashier, who’s doing the best she can with all the crowds and has probably been on her feet for five hours.

b. Point out the mistake and see what happens.

c. Tell her you don’t want the stupid toy if you can’t have your discount.

d. Demand to see the manager. So what if there are 25 people behind you? You had to wait, so can they!

 

What did you think of our little test? Did you find options that match your own reactions? If not, feel free to contribute your own! And yes, we have actually seen virtually all of these reactions with our own eyes. 

Our friend Ben and Silence believe that it’s pointless to try to change other people’s behavior. We think you can only hope to influence them by behaving as courteously and considerately as possible yourself, and voting with your feet if you must. As the father of Silence’s ex liked to say, “If a dog barked at you on the street, would you get down on all fours and bark back?” This holiday season, it’s something to think about.

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Comments»

1. Cinj - November 30, 2008

Cute. I imagine there are people who might even act a little worse than your worst reactions listed sadly. I’m a mostly a or b answer type of person but I wouldn’t write to Miss Manners so I’d just ignore the annoying cell phone phones. I don’t clean up dog poo either nowadays, it makes the lawn nice and green. If my own dog still lived at home I’d have to clean it up though since there wouldn’t be anywhere to safely walk in my yard otherwise. I couldn’t ignore it though if it were next to my garden or in another high traffic area, I don’t like poo on the shoe.

Thanks, Cinj! As for the poop, I’ve always wanted to get one of those “Doggie Dooley” things so we could compost it. One day! Meanwhile, I too would like to be able to walk anywhere on my property without fear, and that’s why we pick up after our Molly and anyone else who happens to drop by.

2. mr_subjunctive - November 30, 2008

I guess I’m not a *huge* jerk: I went with CABABBAB.

On #2, I’ve been known to pick up the phone, answer, and hang up immediately: whether this is more rude or less rude than ignoring the call entirely, I don’t know.

For #3, I’d be inclined to want to send it back and do over, but I wouldn’t have ordered dressing in the first place (not a fan of creams and sauces and glops — I get this from my mother).

For #6, I’d be inclined to leave the line and try to find another restroom.

Ha!!! You don’t know how many folks I know who’d also choose C for the first question, Mr. S.—not that our friend Ben would ever do such a thing, of course… er… As for finding another restroom, you must live in an alternate universe where restrooms are much more abundant than they are in the one we inhabit. Any hope that we could transfer over to yours?!

3. Laurel - November 30, 2008

Certainly something to think about! It can actually be deadly, with the stampedes at Wal-Mart and the like that has been in the news recently.

Malls tend to be scary to me at anytime of year! But last year I got hit by an SUV in a mall parking lot by some crazy Christmas shopper, who then proceeded to just keep driving. Of course the people behind her just honked at me and told me to ‘get out the f-ing way’. I am pretty sure I at least left a nice dent on the woman’s hood though.

It would be nice to see folks be decent to each other all year round, but perhaps that’s just a pipe dream. Well, we’ve always got our Farmers’ Markets :)

Thanks for the quiz! Some of the questions don’t really count for me as I don’t drive (which is a VERY good thing since I am uber paranoid on the roads, and I am quite sure that I would suffer from road rage!). All in all though, I would like to fancy myself as level headed, save for when I am in large crowds, then I get a tad bit agitated ;)

Yikes, Laurel! We, too, dread malls, not just for the parking hazards, crowds, and generic stores, but because around here, people have a tendency to break into cars in mall parking lots and even hijack them (and their rightful owners). Yet another good reason for patronizing local businesses and taking advantage of the internet! As for not driving, Silence didn’t drive ’til she was 24, so we can relate!

4. Daphne Gould - November 30, 2008

On #2 I always ask them to take me off their list which I shouldn’t have been on anyway since I’m on the Do Not Call list.

We’re on the Do Not Call list, too, Daphne, but we’ve heard that there are loopholes and people get harassed no matter what. We say, thank God for caller ID!

5. fairegarden - November 30, 2008

Sigh. I like to think that most of those bad choices are from the past, before people became enlightened, but that is probably not the case.

Frances

Enlightenment. Such an elusive quality, Frances! Sigh is right. We missed you this Thanksgiving, by the way! We thought of you as we were driving through the rain, fog, sleet, and snow, and were happy not to be dragging you outside to show us your stuff. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

6. nancybond - December 1, 2008

I’m generally very civilized, a persistent telemarketer being the one possible exception. We recently received a barrage of calls from the same company over a period of weeks. Twenty-something. And this after calling the 1-800# back and going through *their* procedure to have our number removed from their list. In desperation, I finally answered the phone, let them begin their spiel, placed the portable phone in front of the radio speakers, walked away, and let them listen to our local newscast. They were extremely rude and simply hung up when you started to ask questions. Another thing that worked once before was to keep insisting you didn’t understand what they were saying…could they repeat that part one more time? I know most telemarketers are simply doing their job, but when they’re rude and uninvited, they’re fair game. :) As for the dog poo, I think it would depend on how many times it had happened before, if ever.

We know you’re very civilized, Nancy! It comes through in all your posts and comments. As for the rude telemarketers, you might try a leaf from our friend Ben’s brilliant mother’s book. Mama was very beautiful, which was usually a good thing, but occasionally became a bad thing, as in the time when somebody called her (back in the days of rotary phones) and began attempting to make what would now be considered an obscene phone call. Fortunately, Mama was blessed with brains as well as beauty. After comprehending the nature of the call, she told the caller that she was sorry, but she was very hard of hearing. Could he please repeat what he had just said much louder so she could hear it? The guy actually tried again, but Mama again asked if he would be good enough to say it a bit louder so she could hear it, and even the poor sod who called couldn’t quite face that. Needless to say, that was the one and only obscene phone call she ever received!

7. themanicgardener - December 1, 2008

I find the quiz a bit simplistic–is there ever a question here about what’s the “right” way to behave? Also,the “right” answers strike me as needlessly passive, at least as a group. Sometimes at least, it’s possible to take some action without being a total jerk. Here’s an example, the only one that comes to mind at the moment, I’m afraid:

My parents and I were subjected to someone’s long, loud cell-phone call when we were on a train to Montreal last April. After the fellow eventually hung up, I took the seat next to him, exchanged a pleasantry or two, and then said, “So do you think she’ll buy it?’
He just looked at me.
“Do you think Janet will buy the house?”
Now he was staring.
“Well, you said she’d talked it over with William, and it sounded as though she respects his opinion, so–”
“You mean you heard–”
“Yup. Every word.”
This was almost like a shared joke, instead of an attack (I think); but it did make the point.

I’m not sayiing that I always manage a creative yet non-combative response; I’m just saying such responses are possible more often than we might imagine.
–Kate

Ha!!! “Simplistic” doesn’t even begin it, Kate! And we think there are no right answers, which is why we didn’t give any “correct” answers at the end. As with everything else, it’s a continuum. Our friend Ben was brought up in such a “proper” household that it was unthinkable to return even the most horrific gift to the store of origin for an exchange: One kept what one was given because someone had thought enough of you to select this gift, and thanked the giver enthusiastically (while praying that their taste miraculously improved before the next gifting season arrived). Pretty much everyone OFB knows would consider this a passive response, but in our family, it was simply considered good manners. OFB would never return and exchange a gift, even today, but let’s just say that Goodwill has received some interesting offerings over the years! As for your response to the cell phoner, you have fulfilled a longstanding fantasy of ours. If everybody had your guts, maybe it would finally dawn on people that public conversations aren’t private!!! Kudos to you for actually doing it.


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