Wednesday, February 8, 2012


In the interest of common courtesy, I thought I would revisit some of the most common and unwritten social contracts that are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives.

This is my nice way of saying, you might be falling down on the job -- or -- you are expecting too much.


This includes any publicly used door including elevators.  The contract states that if you are more than seven steps away from me, I don't have to hold the door open.  I might decide to hold it open for you, but I am not obliged to do so.  Don't get mad if I don't hold the door and be sure to make some manner of a thank you if I do.


A. This includes any urinal, trough or area where men urinate.  The contract states that if you enter a public bathroom and there is already somebody at the urinal stalls, you must choose the urinal furthest from him. If this is a stadium bathroom, at least two spaces will suffice.  You are only to take a spot between to other urinators if that is the only space available including stalls.  I didn't write the rule, I just follow it.
Talking leads to dangerous uncharted territory.
B. There is a hard and fast "no talking" rule.  You must not engage in any form of conversation while urination is commencing.  If you do, you can expect to have your comment or question go unanswered.  If you must make conversation while washing your hands, it should be limited to saying "excuse me" or "thanks" if someone lets you pass with your hands still wet.  


If you are in checkout line with a large amount of items in your basket and someone steps up behind you with one or two items, you are not obliged to let them go before you.  It's is your option and your option alone to decide whether you offer this courtesy.  Even if the checker encourages you to do so, the final decision remains yours.  Conversely, if you are the person with one or two items behind a customer with a large basket of items, you are well within your rights to look like you don't really care, which will usually result in the customer letting you go ahead.  If the customer does in fact allow you to go first, you must make at least two cursory refusals before taking advantage of this boon.  


If you sneeze, you shall be granted one "bless you" and one "bless you" only.  If you are one of those people that always sneezes five times in a row, don't be upset that you only receive one.  People might be kind enough to offer you more than one blessing, but it is not required.  Don't look for it.  People are trying to be nice.  They aren't interested in keeping count.  


A.  If you enter a busy movie theater on a Friday night with the intention of saving a handful of seats for your friends, the contract says you can save two seats maximum.  Not an entire row.  It doesn't matter how many jackets, cardigans and pashminas you drape over the seat.  

B.  Also, if you come late to a movie with your date and require that someone move over so you two can sit together, you can ask, but do not expect the person to move.  You came late.  It's not a personal vendetta against you and your girl if you have to find another row.  It's what happens when you don't adhere to established start times.


It's a long held social contract that if someone helps you move, you are indebted to them, no questions asked.  You, in turn, must help them move upon request.  This idea is not in debate.  However, if you move three times to the the other person's one time, you do not get to keep asking for help if you have not repaid your moving debt.  Also, you can't start complaining that people aren't taking enough care with your stuff.  They aren't hired professionals.  They going to break something.  Probably on purpose.

In summary, follow these rules and you'll just fine.  Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of the obvious.  Like when you cut someone off accidentally in your car.  You need to put your hand up in a gesture of contrition.  It's what you do.  

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE IT!!! So right on Bro ! So many...and all with the agreed yet, unspoken rules of interaction. Talking while standing in line at the bank, at McDonalds, is there a difference in the rules? Let's explore further if you want !