"treasures" we all would love to bury
Before I start, understand I have nothing against French people. But
honestly, some of them really take the biscuit. Maybe this is why the
English have been intermittently at war with them for the past few hundred
I was in London and I decided to go to some of the theatres to see some
shows. I saw We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre - fine, no problem
there. I also had a ticket to go and see Les Miserables at the Palace
Theatre. I was really looking forward to this performance as I'm a big fan
of both the book of the musical.
My ticket wasn't a bad one - it was on the balcony and quite high up, but it
was central and totally unobstructed. I bought a program and a T-shirt and
memorized my seat location so I could nip into the toilets to change my
T-shirt to the Les Miserables one. When I came back, there was a French
family sitting next to me - and they were the ones who took the biscuit.
First of all, I asked the father the time. OK, he was French, but I reasoned
he must understand some basic English if he'd managed to get theatre tickets
in London. He totally ignored me, even though I was being purposely very
polite. I thought "Oh, well," and asked one of the attendants
instead, which is what I should have done in the first place.
THEN I discovered his daughter, who must have been at least five years old
or so, was sitting in my seat. I told him that his daughter to move.
Reasonable request? No, not to him. He stared at me as if I was a lugworm,
and turned to his daughter and asked her to move. She started staring at me
with malevolent eyes, and didn't move. It took at least five minutes for her
father to get her to move too (and he was treating her as if she had the
right to run amok in the theatre and I was in the wrong), and by that time
the lights had gone down and the orchestra was starting the overture.
I suppose this behavior wasn't too bad - rude, but not very - so I forgot it
and settled down to enjoy the show. I discovered that all the people around
me were French. Like I said, I have nothing against French people, but they
were all so damn rude... First of all the two teenage girls on my right read
a guidebook all through the first act, and discussed what they were going to
do the next day in very loud voices, right in my ear. On the other side of
me, the rude family started talking in French - very loudly too - and their
malevolent daughter started wailing and having a mini-tantrum. As if that
wasn't distracting enough, another French family in front of me were
crunching popcorn and slurping drinks, and the mother and father - who must
have been at least 40 - were kissing passionately like teenagers in a
cinema. All that would be bad enough in a cinema, but during a musical with
live performers, for goodness sake?
I got increasingly ratty during the first half, and although I was enjoying
the show, I spent half the time whispering 'Shut up!' under my breath. At
the interval, I admit I was a little rude. I turned to the father of the
rude family and said, politely but through my teeth, "Do you think you
could be quiet during the second half, please?" Hopefully that was
reasonable - at least, it worked, largely. It did on the guidebook girls
The family in front of me stayed just as impolite. In fact - they got worse.
The father, who was sitting in front of me, leaned forward, blocking my view
of the stage. I had to lean forward even further to see the performers. His
children kept on creaking the seats. My patience was starting to wear very
THEN it got worse. A lot of people happen to die during the second act of
Les Miserables, and every time someone died, both his daughters starting
crying loudly. I was nearly in tears by this time - not because of the
'dead' characters, but because the people around me were driving me crazy.
To be fair, I found out that one of his daughters must have been ill because
she threw up hugely about halfway through the second act - over all the
people in the row in front of her (the parents-kissing-passionately family).
That got rid of both those families, so I was left in relative peace, apart
from the vomit smell wafting in my direction.
Now all of this doesn't sound as horrible as some of the other stories, but
it wasn't that it was so rude to me and the other quiet members of the
audience as it was rude to the performers (who were very talented and
professional, by the way). Hopefully I'll never experience it again.
Just a couple of days ago, I had an incident at school that I felt needed
immortalizing. Maybe you could add a new section? "School rage",
or something like that? Anyway, on with the story.
I go to DeVry Institute of Technology, for starters, so this isn’t kids.
We’re all adults. Now, in one of the classes I was taking, the teacher
doesn’t bother to tell us when the tests are coming up. We’re supposed
to check the outline. Okay, but she hadn’t told me that, so I assumed like
most professors, she’d tell us the class before that we’re having a test
next class. So I came in to a quiz unprepared, but still got 26 out of 30.
Where it gets interesting is twenty minutes into the test. That’s when I
finished, and was putting my scantron sheet into the pile, when another guy
walks in and starts to take one. The Professor stops him, of course. I wasn’t
the first one to finish, and no one can start taking the test after other
people have left! The guy starts fussing about it, saying how she shouldn’t
have let people leave until thirty minutes. Um, no. She has to keep us there
for fifteen minutes, actually, no more. I left at that point, since I was
done and he seemed to be getting belligerent. When I walked by the class,
though, I heard a loud bang. Well, I heard later that he got VERY angry with
the Professor. Apparently, he even grabbed her arm, then grabbed a sheaf of
papers and threw them against a wall… probably the bang I heard. He nearly
reduced her to tears. Honestly! What a thing to do. I said to another
student, "Really, that is NOT the way to get a good grade. If you
missed a test, beg, plead, and grovel, but don’t yell at the
teacher!" Unbelievable. I don’t really like that Professor, but I
felt for her this time. Later, I overheard another guy speaking to the
Professor about his grade (17 out of 30… ouch…) and he mentioned how
seeing that distracted him from the test. While I doubt that was solely to
blame, it really didn’t help. Show some courtesy.
I also have another story, along the same lines. Back when I was at the
University of Manitoba, in Engineering, we had this one rather unique
Professor. Apparently, most people either love him or hate him. I must have
been unique in having no real opinion. He definitely had character though,
and could give people a real hard time when they got on his bad side.
Anyway, one day I was talking to him, in the lab where people were working,
about my last mark, which was fairly crappy. I felt I was entitled to a few
more points, and if not, I wanted to know exactly where I went wrong. That
was going fine, I wasn’t getting any points but he was going over my
diagram with me. Then a guy walks up, tears his lab into pieces, throws it
onto the floor right in front of the Professor, and storms out fuming! I was
shocked, and the Professor excused himself to follow him. I got my stuff
together, and when I walked out, I heard the Professor shouting in his
office, obviously giving the guy grief for acting like a twit. I just shook
my head. For starters, that was excessively rude, and second, why would you
be dumb enough to do it with that particular Professor? The lab wasn’t
worth that much. Some people just don’t think.
My father and I were driving to the store one evening, and to get there we
had to cut through a neighborhood that is a little run down. We come up to a
group of kids riding their bikes. They looked to be between 7-11. One boy
(who looked to be about 11) was riding his bike in the middle of the road
and did not move over as my dad was approaching, so my dad tapped the horn
to get his attention. The kid didn't miss a beat; he just lifted his hand
and flicked my dad off. We kind of gasped at his obvious lack of respect for
elders and his carelessness, but didn't say or do anything. However, as we
approached him in the car the boy went to turn his head to avoid eye contact
with us and as he did, he totally wiped out and fell off his bike! My dad
just kept going and I looked back to see his friends stop and help him up. I
suggested we check to make sure he was OK, but we were not in the best area
and who knew what these kids might say to their parents, so we just kept
going. We couldn't help but laugh though. I think it served the kid right.
When I was in college, I worked at the food court in a grocery store. There
were several small restaurants linked. The man in charge of the
"Chicken" place (The biggest of the restaurants) worked with his
wife. Because of this, they sort of figured that the entire restaurant area
was the property of their family, and they could ask us to do whatever they
wanted. I worked in an entirely different section. While I was happy to help
out, I was uncomfortable with their attitude. They acted like I owed them
something. This was especially true when it came to their children.
They would drop their children off at the restaurant at the beginning of the
day. The children would wander around, and be expected to entertain
themselves in our grocery store. Apparently I was expected to watch them.
Dude—I am getting paid to serve food, not watch your children. Then again,
I can’t just let a child wander around alone. It’s unethical. They could
hurt themselves. They were just kids, and it wasn’t the children's fault
that their parents were jackasses.
On top of everything else, these people were ultra religious, and
mildly bigoted. So when I was cutting up peppers, and having a conversation
with their eight-year old daughter, I got some very big surprises.
"So do you like Harry Potter," I like Harry Potter. I assumed this
was a safe question to ask a child.
"Oh, I’m not allowed to read Harry Potter." Oh, considering
their religious background not surprising. I’ll just let this one go. But
she continued: "Harry Potter teaches you that witches are good. They’re
not. They are bad, and they hurt people."
My mother is Wiccan, (I’m a devout agnostic, but that’s irrelevant). For
a second, I think "She’s their kid, so I should just let this one
go." But then I think, "You know, they left her alone with me. I’m
not getting paid to watch this kid. I’ll do my best by her, but I’m
doing it out of the goodness of my heart, so I’ll treat her like I would
"Not necessarily, my mother’s a witch" I say. She gasps. I
further add, "She doesn’t believe in hurting people. It’s actually
against her religion. She thinks that any harm she causes other people will
ultimately come back to her. Now, it’s perfectly okay to think that she’s
wrong, but please don’t think she’s evil."
The little girl nods. The brainwashing has begun. Her parents kept her
completely ignorant of the facts of life. I was raised to believe that this
was wrong, and when they decided to leave the raising of their daughter to
me, I remedied the situation. When she asked me how girls were different
from boys, I explained, and drew pictures. When she talked about being
uncomfortable around black-people, I tried to tell her about how I didn’t
think they were any different from white people. When she called somebody
"gay" as an insult, I explained what it meant, and why I didn’t
really think it was an insult. I never presented my opinions as facts--I
just told her why I held them and let her decide. She started sneaking Harry
Potter books at school. She started to come to me with her ethical
Now, maybe I crossed some lines, but this couple left her with me. They
decided, without checking my credentials, that I was responsible for the
care of their child. So I cared for her to the best of my abilities.
They would probably not be pleased with what I taught her. Their mistake. I
have glasses, have short brown hair, and I dress conservatively. I don’t
advertise my political beliefs. I could have easily been just like them.
But, I could have just as easily been a child molester. Great Rug-rat.
Rotten parents. I still hear from her from time to time.
I recently attended a huge party for the family matriarch's 90th birthday.
It was, in essence, a large family reunion. The party was being held in a
local community hall (a Lion's Club or Knights of Columbus type of place)
with a large stage at the front. The stage was, naturally, full of all sorts
of kid magnets such as pianos, extra furniture, and so on - the kinds of
things that maybe weren't intended to be a giant jungle gym for kids, but
seemed to be just begging to be touched by sticky fingers.
As the sit-down dinner started and carried on, I was amazed at how
unsupervised the children at this soiree were. Suddenly one discovered the
stage, which then attracted all his siblings, which then attracted another
and all her siblings, and so on. Soon, almost every child under the age of
ten (including a few as young as 2 years old) was on this stage, climbing
the rickety furniture, pounding at the piano, not to mention putting their
mouths on things that likely hadn't been washed in 5 years. One charming
little crumb-muncher discovered the emcee's microphone and figured out how
to turn it on, consequently serenading everyone in the hall with his
If a classroom-full's worth of children running wild in plain view of a
sit-down dinner wasn't irritating enough, it had been decided that all
family photos with great-grandma were to be taken in front of the stage.
You'd think the parents would have the decency to remove their kids at this
time, but no. These ignorant dimwits let their little hellions clamber all
over the place while we were trying to get pictures of relatives together
that likely won't see each other again for years. So, in all the posed
photos from this occasion, we have these stupid little hyper monkeys who we
don't even know, crawling around behind our heads. Lovely.
I have no idea in what category this story belongs or who the truly rude
parties may have been (maybe all or us) so I shall await your verdict. In
1981, I was waiting tables in a higher-class steak house (not overly formal,
but expensive with excellent food and service). Many patrons were somewhat
informal in how they dressed, but that is typical of the relaxed attitude of
the city in which I live. One evening, I had just served a party of five
when I saw one of the women at the table unbutton her blouse, open her bra,
expose her breast and begin nursing a infant while she ate. As I could see
other patrons at other tables could and were noticing what she was doing,
and being too embarrassed (as a nineteen-year-old male) to speak to her
directly, I grabbed a waitress and asked her to take one of our oversized
napkins to the woman. I hoped the woman might take the hint and use the
napkin for a little modesty. When the waitress offered the napkin to the
woman, the woman immediately took offense and began loudly to preach that
what she was doing was normal and natural and that no one should be offended
or embarrassed by it. Her extremely vocal protest was causing more of a
scene and drawing more attention than the breast-feeding ever could have.
Before the waitress had a chance to react, an older and very refined lady
seated at the next table leaned over to this woman, looked directly at her,
and let loose a most vociferous belch. She then stated in a calm and sweet
voice that that too was normal and natural, but most people refrained from
doing it in public.
The waitress turned white and walked away. Most of the tables sitting nearby
whom had heard this exchange burst out in laughter and a little applause.
The party of five left quickly while casting quite angry glares at the whole
restaurant. Needless to say, I did not get a tip - but I did tip handsomely
the poor waitress for her trouble.
I have a suggestion for a new category: etiquette at sports events. It
always amazes me how involved people get into sports games, whether it's the
World Series, a softball game in a bar league, or a children's soccer match.
This incident happened the other night.
I play in a kickball league every Monday night. Many of the readers will
remember this game from their grade school days. It's a great way to hang
out with friends, and have some fun (and get a little exercise). Our team is
not the best in the league, but oh well. My life isn't ruined because of it.
However, we have a guy on our team who drives me batty. He's one of THOSE
players, you know, the type that feels every game is for the World Cup and
it's the end-of-the-world if we don't win. If the ball is coming to you,
he'll run in front of you and catch it, because after all, no one is as a
great of a player as he is. Last night took the cake though. We lost the
last game of the season by only a couple of runs. Hey, it happens, right?
Well, apparently not to him. He stormed off the field, and yelled "You
all played like s#$%!" (He forgot to include himself in this statement,
even though he missed catching two balls in the outfield). He then marched
over to the umpire to argue with him over a call the guy made in one of the
earlier innings. The game is over, move on!
And if the above wasn't bad enough, he then threw his glove across the
bleachers, and stomped off to his car. He refused to do the "hand
line" (where you slap the hands of the other team and say "good
game"). He just drove off in a huff. Several players on the other team
commented on his behavior. We were embarrassed, appalled, yet amused at the
same time. I mean, this is a grown man of 34, throwing a temper tantrum over
a game third-graders play in the schoolyard! It's hard not to see the ironic
humor in that.
I told my friend that I refuse to play next year if he's on our team. She
assured me he will not be playing.
Page Last Updated May 15, 2007