A little common courtesy, please

So there’s this guy I know. He’s got a meeting Monday. But he might be able to do to get with you Tuesday. But what he really wants is to make sure the contract is signed.

OK, I don’t know him. At all. But I do know all of that other stuff. Why? Because he decided to have this conversation extra loud while pacing back and forth in a coffee shop.

Now I’m not one of those luddites who can’t stand if someone is using technology in public. We live in a world where people are mobile and on the go. Coffee shops are the people’s office. I often work in one, and I on occasion take phone calls when I am in there. I see no problem with taking a phone call if you talk in a tone that you would if someone were sitting across from you.

My problem with this guy was that he was not sitting in one spot, speaking in a normal tone. He was a loud person. And I get what it’s like being loud. My wife is constantly reminding me that I have a rather loud voice, usually when we are in public. Normally, it’s over very unimportant things, but she will tell me that we don’t need to ask the entire supermarket what kind of hummus to buy. (Our daughter inherited this gift, which provides me the opportunity to be a raging hypocrite and point out when she is talking loudly.)

The guy was also strolling back and forth through the store, from one end to the other, and then back to the other side.

Again, I get the pacing. I don’t think I have had a phone call in my house while seated in 20 years. I, too, am a pacer. But not in a coffee shop. It’s a social contract we engage in. Your conversation is yours, and it doesn’t need to become mine.

I continued working away as the gentleman paced back and forth, but I have to admit, I spent less time looking at my computer and more time watching others in the coffee shop. There were probably 15 other people in there. And every time the dude strolled passed their tables, someone would look up, having their at-the-table conversation disrupted by the guy who really had to finalize some contracts.

So what I want to ask each and every one of you today: Start today asking yourself, with everything you do, are my actions going to have a negative impact on someone else? I tell my kids this all the time. For example, when strolling through a parking lot, is your desire to play Pokemon Go or Snapchat something that critical that you should slow down traffic? No. It’s not. But my kids are teenagers. They’re expected to be knuckleheads. Adults shouldn’t have to be told this. But apparently they do.

So adults — time to reset. Time to remember what I always tell my kids — other people exist on this planet. And life is so much better when you realize that they are there. So don’t stroll through a coffee shop having a loud conversation. Also, don’t:

  • Mosey through a parking lot while staring at your phone, as I’ve already pointed out.
  • Take 11 items to the express line when it clearly says 10 items or less (even though it should be “fewer”).
  • Leave your grocery cart in the middle of a parking spot (pretty sure any long time reader of my column saw this one coming).
  • Continually switch lanes trying to win a traffic jam.
  • Litter. Seriously, it’s 2017. Who’s OK with that now?
  • Stay on your phone call when you are checking out at the store.
  • Stay on your phone when you are checking someone out at the store.

I am sure I could write on and on and on about little things people could stop doing that really shouldn’t have to be said. But let’s start with some of the basics. Come on, people. We can do this. We can remember that other people exist around us. And we can still probably get that contract signed by Tuesday.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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