Sunday, July 27, 2008


I am not an anti-social person by any stretch of the imagination. The restraining order against me greatly prohibits my contact with others, but when the restrictions are relaxed, I am a great guy to be around. Anyone one who knows me is aware that good manners and etiquette are one of the most important values I hold dear -and manners, as I define them, is being polite to people, especially when the other person is making it very hard to do so. Politeness is artificial good humor, as Jefferson once said. Manners are the last remaining vestige of what historians refer to as the western honour culture, and anyone who has recently received rotten customer service at the local burger joint by the green haired, multi-pierced kid behind the counter knows exactly what I'm talking about. Keeping this in mind, there are people with whom I find it difficult to hold to my own personal code of ethics - I call them bus buddies.

Bus buddies are people who lack basic social skills who sit next to you on a bus, plane, train, or shuttle. They - like people who overshare the details of their usightly skin conditions - also lack something that I call the verbal filter. The verbal filter is that little stop sign we all possess that prevents us from making inappropriate comments during day to day conversation.

Example: Say you're in the middle of a job interview, and your potential employer asks you what negative qualities you posses. Now, maybe you like to start off your morning downing jello shooters and mowing your lawn in the nude. For most of us, our personal filter would clamp our tongue shut before we volunteered that information and were promptly escorted from the building by security. Some people don't have - or choose not to use - their own personal information filter.

Bus buddies are the dread of every frequent flyer, and I seem to attract them the way Barney Frank attracts muscle bound Italian boys.

Claire and I flew on a major American airline carrier - I lose the term "airline" loosely because it seemed more like a school bus with wings. Claire was seated to the right of me, and my bus buddy was waiting to pounce on the left. Something creeped me out about the guy, and the moment I made eye contact, I found out why. For the next 3 hours he shot questions at me like he was skeet shooting at a clay pigeon - "Whatchya reading?", "What's it about?", "Where did you get your tattoo?", "Did you see the new Batman movie?", "Do you wish you had a motorcycle like Batman?"

I am a patient person, but I felt like weeping.

Anyway, I should take a breather to re-examine the old gratitude meter. I got to go to Miami and spend time in paradise with the lovely miss Claire and her folks. It can get hectic out there. Always take a moment during the day to think of your kids, or your loved ones, and realize just how lucky you are.



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