While on the El yesterday I got this major urge to be the annoying one. 93% of the time I get on the train there is at least one person being obnoxious. I wanted to start singing really loud, I wanted to start dancing up and down the aisles asking people for money, asking them if they wanted to hear a poem I wrote. Of course I didn’t do any of these things, but it got me thinking about why certain people stay composed and calm while others are ridiculously out of line in public spaces. Obviously it has to do with some sort of personal etiquette, some inner knowledge of respectfulness. Or maybe just socialized common sense.
It’s interesting to examine these ideas by looking at our current technological advancements—there is no real facebook etiquette for example but many of us have adapted basic social skills on that particular media site such as not posting secrets of another person’s on their wall, actually responding to inbox messages, de-friending people who are not really our friends and who we do not actually want in our lives, etc.
Yet, is this sense so common, take the El for example, that the CTA has to tell people that they should let an old or disabled person sit first; the CTA has to tell people not to talk to loudly on their phone, not to let their music volume get out of control etc. I’d like to say that I can’t believe these things have to be said over and over again, but I’ve seen the people on the El and sometimes I wonder how they could even make it to the train stop without tripping over the sidewalk and dying.
Anyhoo. Sometimes I would like to just let it all go, to pretend that I don’t know better and dance and sing through the train cars, but then I don’t because I don’t know if there will be an even crazier person who will shoot me for annoying them. Therefore I stay seated, with my iPod at a low volume level, all my belongings on the seat with me, my mouth shut, my eyes staring forward until I reach my final destination.