manners


 I used to really like this show on TV called the marriage ref. It consists of three celebrities and a host who discuss a couple’s argument, give their opinions about who is right, and then settle the argument between the couple. Last year the host made the final call and I have to say I think he did a pretty good job. This year however, the celebrities are voting and I’m not liking it as much. Celebrities in general are kind of crazy and their voting seems to be in line with that.

Let me give you an example of why I’m not happy with this show. The other week there were three couples on. One couple was fighting because the woman was buying so many clothes that the husband thought she was going overboard and didn’t need all those clothes. The woman admitted to changing a couple times a day and enjoying having hundreds of pairs of shoes, scarves, necklaces, etc. In fact she had so much jewelry it would take her several years to wear all of it (one item per day). I was shocked when the celebrities voted with her and against her husband. Seriously? She was way too overboard with the amount of things she was buying. Unbelievable.

But here is where it gets really bad. In the same segment, another wife and husband were fighting because the husband thought she was writing too many thank you notes. Ummm. I can’t believe this is even an argument. They interviewed the son of this couple who first of all is a kid (kids often exaggerate, hello) and obviously prompted to tell the camera how crazy his mom was so that there would be some drama in this episode. But of course the celebrities were too dumb to notice that. So they voted against her and for the husband.

Let’s recap. These judges voted in favor of a woman who was displaying materialistic, selfish behavior and against a woman who was displaying gracious, polite behavior. One was obsessed with herself and the other was making other people feel good.

So I’m done with this show. In addition, I don’t think it’s very nice to give the winner of the argument a billboard that says they were right that is posted in their hometown. I’m not married but I would not want to humiliate my spouse by rubbing his nose in it in such an obnoxious and public manner.

Shame on you TV producers. You turned a cute show into a pathetic display of how we allow out-of-touch celebrities and drama-seeking producers to shape our lives. If you agree with me then I would suggest you send a card to a friend or loved one for no reason—just make them feel good!

Do you ever watch those stories on the news about weird or tragic events or stories about crazy people causing a lot of chaos and wonder if you’ll ever be caught in the middle of one? I lead a pretty unassuming kind of life so I feel like I’m usually standing on the outside looking in at those events.

Well today as I hopped onboard the DC Metro train I thought I’d look around to find out what people left on the floor and seats and see if that would make a good story. (Last week I saw a stocking and some other random items and started getting curious.) But as luck would have it I was inspired not by the discarded items of my fellow commuters but by a crazy woman.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand it when people get on the train (or plane, bus, etc.) and play their music so loud that I can hear it. In fact just last month I was about to reach over and ask a gentleman to turn down his iPod until I heard that he was listening to that song, Land Down Under. The song choice was so not what I expected that I just laughed and tapped my toes. But I digress.

The guy who got on the train today was playing something (the people around me said it wasn’t music it was noise) loudly and the whole car could hear it. As much as I didn’t like that I also didn’t appreciate the lady sitting next to me who screamed over the aisle to tell him to “Turn that s*&t down.” A moment later we were subjected to listening to her yell at him again. I’m certain he did not hear or see her. When she told him that he had 60 seconds before she would stop the train, I proceeded to get into my tackle position. You see, I was on my way to an interview and there was no way I was going to let her stop me from getting there on time.

I’m not sure she heard me when I told her, “You’re not going to stop this train.” But the guys next to me heard me and I could tell they were going to support their new favorite quarterback if the situation arose. Thank goodness the offending iPod blaster got off at the next stop because I was starting to envision the evening’s news clip. “Desperate Job Seeker Tackles Crazy Cursing Woman on Metro.” She must not have been from around here because everyone knows you don’t mess with DC commuter traffic. Anyway, next time I’ll get the scoop on those stockings.

I live in northern Virginia and we have our own brand of road rage here. It happens often and is a regular part of our lives. Just a few short miles away is the famous mixing bowl. It’s the confluence of three major highways. I’ll give VDOT some props on fixing it up these past years. I used to have to perform some Evil Knievel type moves to get onto 395 north.

When I was working (oh so long ago), I used to take breaks once and awhile and walk outside near the corner of Duke St. and Washington St. in old town Alexandria. This intersection is host to lots of near and actual accidents, mad drivers, and crazy people. Seriously—to any law enforcement official reading this—you should just go camp out there and you’ll get a year’s worth of ticket quotas in a matter of days.

But since I’m not there anymore, I’m getting glimpses of bad driving on other roads and thought I’d share my list of driving related pet peeves. 

10. Not signaling.
Hello! It’s me, Dawn, the gal behind you who can’t read your mind but who would like to have a little notice that you’re turning or switching lanes so I can oh, I don’t know, apply the breaks a bit sooner or maybe change lanes myself. What’s that? The lever for signaling is too far from your index finger and you’d have to extend that finger in order to push it up or down? Gee, that’s too bad, precious.

9. Pulling out onto a road right in front of another car and then driving really slowly in front of them.
This is especially offensive when there is no traffic behind the car that is already on the road. Try waiting an extra ten seconds and pull out after that car—nice and slow.

8. Getting really distracted by your kids, cell phones, pets, etc.
If you can’t keep your eyes and your focus on the road, then pull over and deal with the problem, don’t do it in the lane next to me going 50 miles per hour.

7. Sticking your middle finger out, using foul language, obnoxiously honking your horn, speeding up and tailgating, or any other immature road rage behavior.

6. Staying in the left lane when you aren’t passing.
The left lane is for passing folks. You’re forgiven if you have to make a left turn soon, but generally speaking, get out of the way if you’re not.

5.  Motorcycles (or any other vehicle) driving way to fast, in and out of traffic, basically scaring the crap out of everyone on the road.
If you really feel the need to drive like that, go to a race track. There is nothing that important to get to that you have to endanger other people. (Except if you’re Jack Bauer.)

4. Parking in someone else’s (my) driveway.
Those of you who live in nice single family homes are probably thinking this would be cause to call the police or a tow truck. Those of us in townhomes and apartments with small driveways are subject to the lazy neighbor or their friends who don’t want to park in one of the public spaces a few yards away. If you want Grendel to start peeing on your flowers and grass, just block me in one more time. This also holds true for people who park in spots marked reserved.

3. Reading while driving.
I’m not talking about sneaking a peek at a map. I’m talking about having the latest Grisham novel open next to the steering wheel. If you think I’m kidding, then hold on to your britches. I’ve seen this happen more than once. How dumb do you have to be to think that’s okay?

2. Tailgating.
This has to be one of the most obnoxious and dangerous behaviors of stupid car drivers. I can’t say enough about how dumb and irresponsible this is.

1. Pedestrians who cross against the light.
This isn’t driving behavior but it affects those of us in the cars. It’s incredibly annoying, disrespectful, and dangerous to walk through intersections against the light—or when you know the light is turning and you’ll be in the intersection when it’s red. And if you aren’t crossing at a light then double shame on you. You may think it’s okay for you to just run across and no one will care. Well I’ve got news for you. We do care. Rush hour is a nightmare in the DC metro area. We don’t need you causing five cars to miss the light because you can’t wait your turn. We also don’t need to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting you because we are paying attention to traffic and not expecting a person to be running in front of us. Just because you aren’t in a car doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to traffic signals (and that goes for you bike riders, too).

If any of these items comes as a shock to you as being wrong or offensive, then I implore you to visit your local DMV and take a new driving test. Either that or stay out of my neighborhood please. And for you out of towners visiting DC, think of the beltway as a watch with north being 12 o’clock and south being 6 o’clock. The inner loop runs clockwise and the outer loop runs counterclockwise. And the speed limit is actually 65 and not what those pesky signs say.

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