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monkey me, monkey you
the serious matter of bad manners
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

The rabbi at the deli said, “You know what’s wrong with our world today? It’s all about me. Not you -- me. We’ve become too self-absorbed and we will suffer because of this.”

I paid extra for a side of potato salad with my turkey and veggies on pumpernickel, but this insightful perspective was bechinam.

There's real truth to his observation. Every day, I see examples of one-man-kind, not humankind. Few things spark my anger more quickly than someone berating a child in public, another person cutting me off in traffic to move ahead three feet, or an idiot bumping into me because he or she simply didn’t want to slide over two inches from their set course. Is it stupid to get so ticked at these little things? Well, for the child’s sake, no. For the other stuff, probably. And I’ll die five years sooner because of it.

Unfortunately, a Myers-Briggs test I took years ago revealed I’m a little judgmental. I’m also extroverted, intuitive, and feeling, (ENFJ for those playing the Myers-Briggs Home Game) but I definitely wave an electric blue judgment flag, because I want -- no, expect -- equal measure and fairness.

Yeah. And a pretty pony and all the rocky road ice cream I can eat.

“Glittering me monkeys” is my coined phrase, and I’m proud of it. Demographic experts lament the 1970s “Me” generation, but those bell-bottomed chimps are etiquette school graduates compared to the earphone-wearing, cell-yapping, buffet-slopping populace of today. Many of us sparkle with the intense radiance of our very presence, and we’re always clamoring to be the head of the troop. Not only have we forgotten our manners -- we’ve buried them under a pile of dung.

Handfuls of which we fling at each other.

At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious know-it-all (Which has never stopped me before. Extroverted, I tell you!), allow me to swing from the nearest vine and screech ~

Hey you!

…talking on the cell phone while completing a retail transaction with another human being. Amber doesn’t need to hear right this second what foot pumice stone you purchased. Disconnect the umbilical cord for two minutes, engage the person at the register in polite conversation, and move along.

…yelling obscenities at the driver from the back of the bus. You lack decency and class, and don’t be surprised if other people on the bus force you off at the next stop. It’s what you deserve.

…jumping ahead of traffic. Logic and engineering dictate that if everyone forms a single lane once they see it has to be done, each vehicle will flow more quickly through the constricted zone. People like me with big vehicles take great pleasure in blocking your zoom to the front, but it’s still annoying, so just stop it.

…commenting on a message board or to an e-mail only when someone mentions your name. You want the attention, but you can’t be bothered to share in the lives of others. Here. Have a rhinestone banana.

…crowding the elevator doors to get on before people on the car can exit. Ever notice the flustercluck you form by standing in the way and making everyone slow down or veer around you? Step aside.

…refusing to say “please” and “thank you”. These basic tenets of polite society make relations so much easier. And admit it -- it ticks you off if someone doesn’t acknowledge your gestures or show gratitude.

…letting a door shut in the face of the person behind you. Unless you’re giving birth or exiting a burning building, your life is not so hurried that you can’t hold a door for two seconds.

…typing while someone is trying to talk to you. Do you really believe you can multi-task that well? Especially in business, it only takes a minute to stop, listen, and then go back to what you were doing. Shut your door or drape police tape across your gopher hole if you’re just too busy to talk.

...interrupting someone constantly before they can finish a sentence. I’ll admit, I do this, because I’m eager to be in the conversation. But it’s still rude -- even more so when people do it just to cut off the other speaker because they think they “know” what’s going to be said or, more likely, are not really listening.

…passing stinky gas on a plane. Surely your momma raised you better than this.

…making unnecessary work for other people because they care about quality and you don’t. Can’t be bothered with the piddly details? This will cycle back around and bite you, hard, on the backside, while you’re scratching it and wondering why you don’t advance or get a raise.

…raising hell in a movie theater. Bored? Then get out. Or someone will make sure you leave.

…driving, texting, and talking to the people in the back seat. You can’t do it all. You’re going to cause an accident. People will be hurt. Yeah, really.

…harassing the “underling” instead of speaking with a supervisor. No matter how frustrated or pigheaded you might be, surely you’re not so stupid to think you’ll get what you want by making this person miserable. Sack up and deal directly with a decision maker.

…ordering your child to immediately stop what he or she is doing to fetch you something. Unless you have your hand in the garbage disposal or are slowing a moving train, you should probably lift your hippo bottom off the couch and get whatever it is yourself.

…glaring at me while you stand a foot from my head yapping into your cellie about “that itch” or tonguing your boyfriend. You’re the one on the phone, in public, talking about personal things. If you want privacy, go to the bathroom.

…letting hotel room doors slam shut. If I ever find out where you live, I’ll show up at your house at 4:33 a.m., blaring a foghorn, every day, and never stop.

…lying about other people to protect yourself. Whether you do this in business or in relationships, it never works. And just because those affected don’t retaliate in a way you can immediately see doesn’t mean you’ve “won” or they’re not on to you. What comes around….

…singing louder at a concert than the people on stage. Stop mouthing into your twinkly banana. No one paid to hear you caterwaul for two hours.

…checking your text messages constantly while having a “conversation” with someone else. This is blatant disregard for the time spent with the person in front of you, and if that person walks away and doesn’t speak to you again, they’re better off.

We’d like to think we’ve evolved as a species, but while advertising tells us the modern world makes our lives better, daily human interaction reveals us as scrappy, dirty grabbits climbing to the top by pushing others out of the way.

So stop for a moment and nosh on the rabbi’s food for thought. Say please. Step aside. Smile. Think for one nanosecond about your impact on someone else and, if it seems less than good, change it.

And don’t drop the banana peel for someone else to slip on.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


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ken mohnkern
9.30.08 @ 11:07a

…passing stinky gas on a plane.


alex b
9.30.08 @ 6:10p

…raising hell in a movie theater. Bored? Then get out. Or someone will make sure you leave.

I have to admit, I once got into an argument while watching Evita, and it sparked off during a 3rd time when the woman behind me would not stop singing along with Madonna. Glares weren't enough for this lady; she was there to sing with the movie with a few flunkies. When I explained that I was there to listen to Madonna and not her, she called ME rude for asking her to be quiet.

Thanks to a couple of colorful terms my motor mouth came up with, she called me vulgar after the fact, but hey. I was all right with that. And she shut up till the end credits.

tracey kelley
9.30.08 @ 10:11p

Matt and our friend Dave got some little punks kicked out of a theater. The guys started off nicely = Dave went over and sat next to them.

Dave: "Hey. Whatcha doin?"
Punks: "*&&%$"
Dave: "Oh, me? I'm trying to watch the movie. You should try it."

He did this twice to no avail. So Matt fetched the manager. The punks put up a fuss. So the manager called the cops, and the cops took them away.

We got free movie passes. SCORE!

juli mccarthy
10.1.08 @ 11:47a

Sheesh, Alex, when did Evita become the new Rocky Horror?

alex b
10.3.08 @ 3:55a

Juli, I have no idea how that happened. I still can't believe glances turned into glares and verbal WWIII.

lisa r
10.18.08 @ 10:26p

…glaring at me while you stand a foot from my head yapping into your cellie about “that itch” or tonguing your boyfriend. You’re the one on the phone, in public, talking about personal things. If you want privacy, go to the bathroom.

No, please...no. Go outside. Go to the roof, the stairwell, the parking garage, the janitor's closet, stand under the freight elevator while it's in freefall--just stay out of the bathroom with your cell phone. Not everyone wants to have their "business" heard by heaven knows who. It's bad enough having to share a bathroom with strangers as it is.

"waves hi at Tracey"

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