|Photo by Frank Hebbert, via Flickr.|
Recently, a good friend of mine told me that a coworker corrected her grammar from a casual correspondence that was none of the coworker’s concern. The unsolicited advice was (obviously) annoying, and my friend asked me (an editor who never makes mistakes) if she had, in fact, been wrong. Well, yes, she had been wrong. But just out of curiosity, I asked what her coworker’s correction was. Lo and behold, the annoying, presumptuous coworker was also wrong! It got me thinking: why the F would you correct someone (annoyingly) if you aren’t 100% sure that you are correct?! It just opens a can of worms for you to be forever considered a raging a-hole.
Unfortunately, this behavior abounds. Last night I went to the Janis Joplin tribute show on Broadway (which was amazing, by the way—the only downside being the other theater goers). The chairs were all numbered, but confusingly each armrest had a different number, so it was easy to make a mistake and sit in the wrong seat. The usher helped me to my seat and told me to just count the seats from the outside in to know if you were in the right one (i.e., seat 10 was 10 seats down). So these two women are sitting behind me yapping away and another couple comes and tells them they have to move down. They immediately get in a flutter and pull out their tickets, arguing that THEY were in the right seats and that the other couple was wrong. My rampant perfectionism could take it no more, and I turned to tell them that they were NOT in the right seats and to move down. “That’s BS,” the woman said to me. “You’re meant to count from the outside aisle.” I said, wanting to add “it’s the new math.” This was met with a quiet “Oh, right.”
And finally this morning on the Metro North (vessel of all annoyers), I was horrified when an old grumpy woman screeched at some young, pleasant exchange students to get their feet off the chairs. “Hate to break up your party,” said she, “but you’re not allowed to do that here.” (Can only assume by “here” she meant in the good ole U.S. of A., thus being annoying and ethnocentric all in one breath. Okay, yes, it IS annoying when youth put their feet on chairs. But these youngins were actually pleasant and cultured, and having a quiet, intelligent conversation rather than being glued to their smartphones. It wasn’t this commuter’s job to stick her ginger head in their space and lay out the law . . . especially when five minutes later she simultaneously broke EVERY unwritten rule of commuting: she space invaded the young foreigners and tried to make nice by conversing with them, she began to hack her germs all over without covering her mouth, she began to talk on her cell phone, and she began to talk loudly to her seat companion. All that was missing was some nail grooming.
So to all ye who annoy: back up on out of others space, do not attempt to teach others when you yourself know nothing, and don’t get righteous unless you know you are right!