If you had adequate child rearing, then at some point (if you were loved - on numerous occasions) you were taught how to act in public so that you could be a positive, well-meaning addition to society.
Belching is not a form of music - stop. After the age of 12 using deodorant is no longer a suggestion. If you can't understand the delicate balance between a white lie and lying you should do neither. You should never be the loudest one in the room unless you're on a stage. If nobody laughed the first time you told a 'joke' don't tell it again. Trying more than two samples is no longer sampling, it's called being cheap and trying get a free meal - not okay. You shouldn't randomly touch people because you want to...
As kids, preteens and graying adults, our encounters with people constantly modify (and hopefully mature) as we interact with others in our daily lives. We're often told and taught how to act and how to respond to social cues; however, where is the advice/10 Commandments/Bill of Rights on how to react when other people fail to uphold the basic expectations of being a civil human being in society?
Below are three scenarios I've found myself in recently. In each instance, I had no idea what to say or how to react. I still don't. If you were in my shoes, what would you do?I've shared these situations with friends and family and the wide gamut of responses I received proves we are in dire need of a policy handbook so that there can be consistent messaging on how we're supposed to appropriately respond to situations. Here goes:
Situation 1 (Strangers): I recently went to an improv show and befriended someone in line. She seemed cool so we decided to sit with each other. The lounge we sat in was spacious and far from over crowded as individual seats were sporadically available in the room. We sat together on a small bench and made small talk until the show started. During our 90-minute show the first 45 minutes were fine and somewhat entertaining. However, as soon as we reached the halfway mark I smelled this insidious, almighty odor coming from the deepest trenches of someone's bowels. The smell was so strong I could feel a tear forming in my left eye and a vein throbbing on my right temple. I thought I could let it go, but after 20 minutes I knew it was bad when the guy on the other side of her got up and moved to a seat a few rows away from us. I didn't know how to break it to my 'stranger friend' that she's disgusting and I wanted to charge her for attempted murder on my nose, so I sat through the nasal onslaught for 45 minutes. We exchanged numbers after the show. I'll never use it.
Situation 2 (Children): I was in a pretty long line to use the bathroom at church one Sunday. After 10 minutes, my necessity for a stall intensified as I slowly got closer to the front of the line. With only about 5 people ahead of me, I knew I was entering the Promised Land soon. Up walks two children (we'll say 6-8 years old) who walk past the line, head into the bathroom and slowly walk out. The woman in front of me asks if they're looking for anyone and they respond "No, we just needed to go to the bathroom, but didn't want to wait in line." The woman somehow feels bad and tells them BOTH to get in front of her. What the actual #*!%?? I was furious, but didn't think it that holy to scream at someone about line etiquette in church.
Situation 3 (Awkward): I have a decent balance of guy n gal friends. I also do a pretty good job of allowing my friend circles to overlap and mingle. I have a friend who is.... awkwardly flirty when she drinks, much to the ire of my guy friends who don't really know her. On one weekend in particular, in less than two hours, she ruined the 'macking' abilities of three of my friends as she wouldn't leave them alone and somehow always managed to foil the number exchange/Instagram follow swap for each of them. I was told to handle it. However, I'm not Olivia Pope and if they had the issue they should've addressed it with her... right?
When people say I love you and you don't love them back or when a friend has put on weight and they ask if a certain shirt (read: all of their clothes) makes them look big or when a person constantly offers unwarranted and unnecessary advice how are you supposed to navigate the waters of these situations? If I allowed myself the luxury of a response, I'd have had a Donald Trump-esque reaction - speaking without thinking - benefiting absolutely no one. There's a fine line between being a mute and being a 5-year-old who has the ability to vote. I'd wholeheartedly help fund the Kickstarter that would develop a social cue handbook. I'd ask for a first edition and hopefully you'd Amazon Prime yourself a copy too because society is in desperate need of this manual.