Rant: 11 Unacceptable Public Behaviors (and 6 Nice Ones)

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 | 12 comments

I’m not big on rants.  The reason is simple: I try to keep things positive.  You’d never know it from reading my fiction, but I’m all-around a pretty cheerful person, and I always try to see things in the most positive light (even when it hurts).  Some bloggers thrive on rants, and more power to them.  They’re just not my thing.


But every once in a while I have to bust out and let my voice be heard, and since I do believe it’s been at least 6 months since I complained about anything on my blog (which is an Internet record, by the way), well…here we go.

I spend a lot of time around people.  This is sometimes a problem, because I’m not what you might consider a “people person”, but I do okay.  Often I just keep my head down and go about my business, and everything works out fine.

But lately I’ve observed some public behavior that troubles me.  I’m no prude, and I’m certainly don’t think we need to live according to some vague “standard”.  On the other hand, I do think too much social media (and not enough *actual* socializing…for those of you who remember what that is…) has numbed us to some of the rules of common courtesy…or maybe just common sense.  Sadly, while I don’t see the behaviors I’m about to outline ending anytime soon, they’re disturbing enough that I felt I needed to say something.  As usual, I’ll use humor to diffuse my angst, and I’ll balance things out with a few positive behavior trends I’ve experienced as of late, just so you don’t all think I’m just being a downer.

So here you have it: 11 Unacceptable Public Behaviors (and 6 Nice Ones)

Presented in no particular order…


Letting Your Kids Run Around Like Miscreants: I’m a parent.  I understand.  Kids are going to be kids.  They make noise, they say awkward (and sometimes embarrassing) things, and they haven’t been indoctrinated in most of our anal-retentive rules on public discourse.  And, most of the time, that’s fine.  But not always.  It drives me frickin’ nuts when people allow their children to run around like barbarians in public places (aside from playgrounds or parks).  Like letting them run up and down the rafters screaming at the top of their lungs during a choir practice.  Or allowing their kids to bully other kids half their size and insist “they’ll work it out”.  Or letting them tear everything off the shelves at the store and turn a blind eye to the fact that they just turned a public aisle into a demilitarized zone.  Please, people: parent your #%!ing kids!

Using Cellphones in the Restroom: It disturbs me that I even need to point this one out.  There are certain places you just don’t use your cell phone.  Especially to discuss work.  Especially when the conversation is of a personal nature.  Especially while you’re in the stall taking care of business….

On that note…

Discussing Things of A Highly Personal Nature In A Public Place (And Acting Offended When People Seem to be Listening): Again, this one should go without saying…and yet here we are.  Again, I understand: when we’re used to being online, we become accustomed to a certain level of privacy, and it can be easy to forget when we venture out into the “real” world that said walls of  privacy don’t follow us.  That’s why I don’t necessarily think it’s wise to discuss your erectile dysfunction  your sister’s extra-marital affair or your company’s inside sales plans for a productive Q4 while you’re standing in line at the coffee stand, sitting on the train, or standing in the middle of the aisle at Target.  Just sayin’.

Being Obnoxious About Your Personal Food Choices in Public Restaurants: Again, I get it: we live in an era of food allergies and special diets.  If you’re not Vegan you’re Paleo, and if you’re not allergic to nuts you can’t have gluten, or milk, or rutabagas.  That’s fine.  But don’t bring that to the food line in a restaurant.  If you have to have your food specially modified to such a degree it takes you forty minutes to place an order and then you’re going to return when they get it wrong and act indignant and surprised because they included BREAD on your sandwich maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be eating at Burger King in the first place.  Just an observation.

Cursing Loudly in Public: I’m not one to police what people say.  And I’m certainly not innocent of swearing (I curse like a sailor, to be honest).  And yet I do this odd thing I call “watching my language in public”.  Weird, I know.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want little kids to hear the F-Bomb.  Maybe it’s because I don’t think that sort of language is always appropriate.  I know, I know, kids hear it in school…but that doesn’t mean I’m going to contribute to America’s crumbling vocabulary.  So please, if you’re in a public place, try not to be too obvious about the fact that your’re incapable of constructing a complete sentence without saying “Fuck” seventeen times.  Honestly, it makes you look kind of stupid.  (I know…You Don’t Care and You Can Talk However You Want.  Maybe that’s what really makes me sad here – that we no longer feel the need to watch our language because “We shouldn’t have to”.  Oh, well…)

coffee pot

Not Making More Coffee: This one is related to behavior in the office.  It’s pretty easy: you empty it, you make more.  I don’t care if you’re “too busy” or “on your way to a meeting”.  So is everyone else.  When you say that, what you’re actually saying is “I’m too important”, and now we’re getting to the heart of the matter…you self-centered middle-management prick.

Being Pushy About Being First in Line: You encounter this all of the time on the commuter train, on buses or in coffee shops: people who don’t necessarily push and shove to get in front, but who are very adamant about “being first”.  They work their way to the bus or train doors twenty minutes before the scheduled stop.  They stand squarely in a position that makes it impossible for anyone to go around them.  They move with force, making sure to step with clear and decisive movements to indicate I AM IN LINE.  Get over yourself.  Take your alpha syndrome and use it somewhere where it’s more appropriate.

(On the flip side of that, if you’re in line, please observe the fact that you’re in line.  It’s not that hard, folks, we learned it in kindergarten…and when so much of your behavior practically screams “I’m still in kindergarten”, don’t expect me to believe you forgot the part about being in line.)

Carrying on a Loud Conversation Like You’re the Only Person/People There: Again, I don’t want to police your right to public discourse.  But being with your friends is no need to talk so brazenly loud that I can hear you from the other side of the restaurant.  Believe it or not, even if you are having a good time, not everyone wants to hear your jocular tales of bike-riding awesomeness or your latest story about how stupid all non-IT people are or how much you hate The Hunger Games because it isn’t realistic enough.  By all means, talk among yourselves.  But I shouldn’t be able to make out your every word when I have my headphones on and my music turned up full blast.

Singing Like You’re In the Shower: You’re not.  You also can’t sing.  So shut up.

Dressing Like You’re Hanging Out in Your Living Room on a Sunday Afternoon When You Clearly Had No Intention of Going Out: Self explanatory.  Void in Wal-Mart, because if you willingly go there you’re kind of asking for this sort of thing.

Taking the Elevator Just One Floor: This is another work related one, and it drives me crazy.  We only have four floors at my office, and three elevators.  And yet it’s impossible to get one because of the rampant use of elevators for the “one-floor trip”.  The worst part is most people who do it admit to just being lazy.  Note: unless you are a) loaded down with boxes or b) physically disabled, DO NOT use the elevator for a one-floor trip.  Take the friggin’ stairs, your lazy A&*^@!!.


Ok, enough bitching.  6 nice trends in public behavior I’d like to see more of…

Paying for a Stranger’s Stuff/Paying it Forward: I’ve had this happen to me at coffee shops and in the drive-through.  It’s a nice little practice that shows a little public togetherness in a casual manner, in which you pay for the person behind you, just because you can.  Sometimes people will pass along the favor and pay for the person behind them.  More of this, please.

Holding the Door Open for Others:  Call me old-fashioned, but I always do this, and I always appreciate it.

Courteous Drivers:  I know, I know…what’s that?  But they’re out there.  Folks who are patient with pedestrians.  Folks who let you in when it’s clear you’ve been waiting to make that left-hand turn since 1962.  People who slow down in school zones.  You’re rarer than you think: keep up the good work.

Letting People With Fewer Items Than You Check out First: A variation on the “pay-it-forward”.  I also tip my hat to those who know they’re going to take an extra-long time because they have a Return/Complaint and who let others go first to avoid getting stuck behind them.  Extra points to you!

Being Understanding With People’s Kids: Sometimes kids are just kids.  Sometimes the parent is doing everything in their power, and it’s just not going to be enough.  Sometimes a kid is just going to be obnoxious, and the poor parent is powerless to stop it.  Been there.  Done that.  Be patient.  It’s different when the parent is doing all they can rather than just letting the kids run rampant – significantly different.

06 game

Being Supportive at Kids Sporting Events: I love this.  You still get the “Hey why the Hell isn’t my son out there to win this game for you??!!!” jackasses from time to time (especially as you get closer to the upper high school sporting level), but with younger kids sports it feels like more and more parents just root for the kids to do their best and have fun, regardless of the outcome.  I saw this with my son’s recent basketball league, and it was refreshing and fun.

Rant ended.  Have a terrific week.


  1. I think we must have been separated at birth! this is so perfect. I especially love the “Being Obnoxious About Your Personal Food Choices in Public Restaurants” one. I have stopped going out to eat with certain groups of friends as a result of this behavior.

    • I totally respect other people’s food choices. My wife and I have had done stints of Vegetarian and Gluten-free, and we’re about to give Paleo a go. ;D I just think it’s silly when people make a big deal about their special diets in places obviously not set up for them.

  2. Miscreant children – agreed. Taking the last of the coffee – agreed. Will result in your lunch being stolen from the fridge. Bathroom cell phones – I LOVE to answer them when they ask a question. Drives them batty. Egregiously bogus food requests – agreed and would never even ask them to hold the onions since I know what a $5.40 an hour employee might think (and do) in that situation. Cursing – I was cured when someone played a tape of me speaking one time. Courteous drivers? – Only happens in LA when we get a rash of random freeway shootings.

    • Glad I don’t live in L.A. LOL

  3. Sometimes I forgot what an all-around awesome guy you are. I love that your rant list is often a matter of being considerate of others, and you balanced it with a good list. :)

    Also, THANK YOU on the swearing in public. I get that what’s “appropriate” has changed for a lot of people over the years. But I grew up not saying certain things and still speak that way. I don’t really care if others do or don’t, but I REALLY don’t want to have to spend a month getting my 3 year old to stop saying “F—”.

    • Aww, thanks Amber!
      It’s strange. My Dad had a *very*…uh…”colorful” vocabulary, and I was cussing from about the age of 10. I don’t hesitate from foul language, when in the proper company. But something about swearing too much in public really bothers me. Maybe it’s because I know some people do it just for the shock value, or else seem to think the F-bomb is the only adjective in the English language. Either way, it just makes me cringe. I try to not to expose other people’s kids to it, and I ask the same in return. And trust me: if *I* can watch my language, ANYONE can watch their language. ;D

  4. Wait, I need to stop singing in public? #sadface… I mean I know I suck, but I do it to create a ‘bubble’.

    Love the post. Keep on ranting!

    • LOL. If a bubble is what you want, singing just may do it. Especially if you sound anything like my daughter. ;D

      Thanks Candice!

  5. I have to agree on all 11 except ,of coarse, I don’t sing in the shower! Don’t want to have to do CPR on anyone in the vicinity!
    I’m not patting myself on the back, but I also do all those little things that can mean so much to someone! You just might brighten up their day!
    I’m impressed. No ranting in 6 months? Wow.. I think it’s good if I go a week!!! Great article Steve. If you didn’t live so far away, I would love to meet you! I’ll tolerate little kids, I won’t swear, I’ll eat whatever is on the menu, and I won’t use my cell phone inappropriately! But, I am Italian , so I have a God given right to rant a little more than the average Joe!

    • Thanks Kathleen! I’d never stifle anyone’s right to complain. Especially an Italian. ;D

    • Thanks Rob!

Leave a Reply