Skip to content


A devastating story of tremendous implications:

I was at a coffee shop a few days ago, in my usual morning commute mode, and I wanted to get some cream.  At the condiment station, there was a guy sort of taking up the whole space, but I’m pretty tall, so I just reached over him and got what I needed.  I was listening to my iPod, and I live in a city, so people don’t generally talk to each other, but I was even less inclined to do so.  Look, I was tired, all I wanted was my coffee, and in reaching around him I wasn’t throwing attitude, I was just doing my thing.  

The guy looks over at me and says “How about ‘Excuse me’ ?”  I snapped back “How about ‘Go fuck yourself’ ?”  I know that was rude, but I don’t really care.


Clearly.  But if it’s any consolation to you, not that you deserve any, the fault really was with the other guy.  Etiquette isn’t a tit-for-tat kind of game where everyone scores off everyone else and then when you tally it up the one with the most points wins…it is a series of gestures and rules by which to abide so that everyone can get along and know what each other is doing and how to accommodate everyone’s needs.  And be pleasant about it.

The first error was the blocking access to the cream and sugar.  You should never block access to cream and sugar.

The second was your not saying excuse me.  I kind of understand it – if he’s not going to play by the rules, you figure you shouldn’t either.  If you had both quit there…

But you didn’t, did you?  He had to go and commit one of the worst etiquette sins imaginable, and that’s correcting the behavior of an adult stranger.  Oh, God – I think I need to take a break.

OK, I’m back…what he should have done is just stepped to the side and shared the space without speaking, or with a mumbled “Sorry.”  You so could have mumbled “Excuse me,” too, by the way, then the world would be a little happier today.

But that’s the problem with being young and smart and witty and living in the big city.  These things go by the wayside.

And before you had your morning coffee, too.  What a shame.

So civility dies a little bit and you get your cocktail party story and this guy gets his comeuppance (yes, one word) and etiquette’s greatest foe, Apathy, wins again.

This took a lot out of me, this minor defeat, so I’m going to stop.  But tomorrow I’m going to meet Apathy in the field of battle and by God I’ll be the one to walk away.



Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *