I just got back from my morning walk. It’s a beautiful, sunny autumn morning in Hobart. The kind that makes you forget all the crappy things about living on this chilly island, such as mall bogans and Sunday drivers, and actually appreciate what a magical place this really is.
Despite all of this, I still managed to get my knickers in a bit of a twist. I had a tailgater. A lurker. An invader on my six.
A-nnoying (insert singsong voice here).
There he was. This teenage boy, sullenly carrying his backpack and shuffling his feet en route to the bus stop up ahead, only a metre or so behind me. Clearly he was capable of walking faster than me, and clearly he wanted to. I mean, I had a pram, was going uphill and had a neurotic, overzealous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wanting to sniff every blade of grass in tow. Yet there he lurked, on my tail for over a hundred metres or so, the jingle jangle of the keychain on his backpack slowly driving me insane. I gave him every chance to overtake; I looked back several times, moved as far to the side of the footpath as I could possibly go, went a little slower. But still nothing. Eventually I turned off into a side street just to shake him.
This got me thinking about all of the other little social anomalies that we encounter on a day to day basis. Those little situations that are not overtly offensive or deeply annoying, but are still enough to ruffle our feathers a touch.
One such situation is when you’re at a cafe or restaurant with a group of people, and the meals are brought out a little staggered. I’ve always been taught that it’s good manners to wait until everybody has their meal in front of them before actually tucking in. But what about chips? Is it rude to nibble at a sneaky chip on your plate whilst you’re patiently waiting for the other meals to arrive? Or is it only considered rude if you pick up your knife and fork and dig in? What about if you offer the person waiting for their meal a chip? Is this socially ok? And what about if the waitee offers the obligatory “Please start, your meal will get cold”?? Is it ok to actually start or is this just a gesture that should never be taken at face value?? Kind of like when a woman says “fine” to her husband/boyfriend/partner/lover (by the way - I have yet to meet someone who introduces me to their other half as their “lover”. How exotic), when clearly things are not fine.
And what about the car wave? You know the situation. You’re driving along a bit of a crowded street and you have to pull over to let another car pass. What is the social etiquette here?? Me personally, I always go for the thank you wave and little smile. Sometimes I even say/mouth “thank you”, which is probably a little OTT and maybe kinda weird too, considering the other driver can’t actually hear me. But there are SOOOOO many people who don’t do the wave or any other form of acknowledgement. Hmmpf. And while we’re on the topic, what about the thank you wave itself? There are so many different varieties it seems. Some people (like myself) go the full on wave as if you’re waving hello. Others just lift their palm a little but still maintain contact with the steering wheel. Others only deign to lift a finger (usually the index it would seem) in acknowledgement. Does this mean that you’re more thankful if you lift your whole hand?? Or are you just more polite??
The mind boggles.
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