I may be the first one to utter this brave statement, but here goes:
“People should be considerate of each other.”
You can freely quote that revolutionary statement on Twitter, it’s on me.
Sure, it sounds obvious, yet the more I observe people lately the more I become convinced that many just don’t give a shit. In their minds they exist in the world populated by nobody else. Sort of like Will Smith in I Am Legend, only without the zombies.
I’ve been raised to always be polite to others. Stuff like “giving place to an older person on the bus”, “opening doors for women” and “not throwing feces at strangers” are second nature to me. I don’t say it in a “look at how awesome I am” way (although I am, indeed, awesome). It’s just that I’m hardwired to have manners.
Here in Denmark I’ve actually had to tone down some of my polite behaviour. Sometimes it was considered fake, as if I was trying way too hard to “pretend” to be nice. Occasionally women would even get outright offended, because I dared to question their self-sufficiency with my offer of holding doors for them or carrying heavy objects. Listen, I’m all for it. “All the women, independent, throw your hands up in the air, clap your feet like you just don’t care and do the Macarena” (I’m a bit foggy on the exact Destiny’s Child lyrics).
Thing is, it seems this has deteriorated to the point where everybody is so independent that they stop caring about how their actions affect others. That’s not being independent, that’s being a selfish prick. So for those people who forgot how to co-exists with others, I’ve devised this handy guide for common social situations. If you’re already a considerate person, think of this as a refresher. Also, keep being awesome. If you’re one of the selfish pricks, you’ve probably gone off in search of a site that doesn’t chastise you.
It’s OK, we’ll just laugh at you behind your back.
1. Buses (trains, metro, tandem bikes) are not only for you
You’ll probably find it hard to believe, but your backpack does not have feelings. It won’t be offended if you don’t reserve a seat for it. It will be just as comfortable on your lap as it would be on an otherwise empty seat next to you. You know who may want to use the seat? Hint: the answer rhymes with “other people”, because it is, in fact, “other people”.
So cut that shit out. Stop sitting by the aisle, blocking others and reserving the empty window seat for your invisible friend Bob. Stop putting your shit on the seat next to you, just to carve out some of that “personal space”. If you want “personal space”, go live in a cage.
2. Doors just want to be held
Most doors are designed to be closed when not being actively held open. They are also solid objects, which makes it difficult for people walking behind you to walk through them. Holding them for someone is the easiest way to tell them “I’m not an asshole”. Try it.
On the flip side, if someone’s holding the door for you, here are helpful tips on making them not want to murder you:
a) Avoid strolling through the door they are holding for you, without offering to take over or even acknowledging their existence. They are legally allowed to put a gypsy curse on your whole family if you do. Look it up.
b) Do make an effort to speed up if you have some distance to close. That way you’ll get some exercise and show appreciation for another human being’s politeness. It’s a 2-for-1 deal you rarely see outside of discount supermarket chains.
c) A smile and a “thanks” is in order. If you can’t muster the energy to move your jaw or are mute, a simple nod will work. If you are physically unable to nod, you may want to take a trip to the doctor instead of walking through doors like some kind of a door-walking-person-thing. I’ll work on my imagery if you promise to work on not being a shitty person.
3. People are not walk-through
Until teleportation technology is perfected, we’ll have to stick to the old fashioned “moving through empty space” method to get somewhere. If you’re blocking the only exit route from a train with your body, people won’t be able to exit the train. Interestingly, you won’t be able to enter the train, because none of you are ghosts.
You would think that simply understanding the laws of physics would help you get this fact. Yet somehow the Danish transportation authorities found it necessary to actually film an instructional video on how to properly make space for people exiting a train. If you were ever wondering why they did that, it’s because of you. You have made them waste money on this instead of making trains run properly. You suck in so many ways.
Equally, this doesn’t stop being true after you exit the train. If there are people exiting the train behind you and you stop immediately outside the exit to check your phone or scout for birds, they are legally allowed to trample you and then put a gypsy curse on your whole family. Truly I speak the truth, verily.
I think I should start working on a series of instructional and motivational books. I feel I’m born to do this, don’t you think? What about you, what are your pet peeves of late? Have you ever tried walking through other people to see what happens?