• Douche
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I strive to give people the benefit of the doubt; I should know better. My gut tells me people lie and cheat, that they’re selfish and terrible. But then my brain interferes and supersedes, always pushing for cultured objectivity. I’ll walk down the street, someone will smile, and I’ll feel encouraged to trust in humanity. But then I see a cyclist spit on the hood of a truck as he speeds by, and I notice the half-empty coffee cup abandoned on the sidewalk, a mere few feet from the receptacle someone deliberately ignored. Couldn’t be bothered, didn’t want to make the effort, or maybe it was a nonverbal assertion, one that says, F-you, I don’t have to follow the rules.

Etiquette is defined as “a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society or group.” I do my best to be considerate of those around me, that is when I’m not on a rampage to exercise my rights. For example, just because you brought your kids to the brewery and sat next to me doesn’t mean I’m going to censor this hilarious and obscene story I’m telling my friends. But in the day-to-day stuff -- the holding of doors, the smiling and saying please and thank you -- I count myself as quite polite.

Consideration and accountability are important to me. Perhaps this is why I’m surprised every time (and times are frequent) I encounter the opposite while going about my day. I sometimes like to pretend that when I find trash in the elevator, it was an “accident.” Surely no one put it there, and left it for someone else to take care of.

I’ve got a real shitty excuse for a human living in this building I’m in, the one I’m about to move out of in a few weeks. As the president of the HOA, I’m the one who handles situations such as broken gates, damaged hallways, complaining neighbors, and clogged trash chutes. In the last year, I have caught this one guy in blatant lies (he said the gate “fell” and that we should pay for the damages to his car, but the video from my security camera clearly showed him barreling into it); and douchey actions, such as forcing his boxes (which he receives and disposes of daily) into the trash chute, despite the friendly reminders posted everywhere about how the chute can’t handle boxes – they need to be broken down and put in the recycling bin in the garage.

When he was asked to stop, when he was told that our petite and universally loved cleaning lady was forced to climb in the trash repeatedly and unclog the chute, Dick responded, “Isn’t that the kind of stuff she gets paid for? If she can’t handle the task, maybe you need someone else.” It doesn't get much dickier than that.

After we sent a violation to his landlord, the owner of the unit (Note: not all renters are bad, many of them are more conscientious than homeowners here) Dick complained of a gouge on his front door and demanded it be fixed immediately. Though it is known that he's responsible for the gouge (he asked for elevator pads to move a couch, but said forget about it after he learned of our $500 moving-large-items deposit), we can’t prove it – no cameras in the hallway – so we’re just going to suck it up and fix the door.

One thing I’m really looking forward to when I move is not having to know for sure just how shitty people can be. I’ll go from my car to my apartment and keep telling myself that people, in general, aren’t like this guy. That's the world I'd rather live in.

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Evelyn June 15, 2011 @ 4:42 p.m.

“'Isn’t that the kind of stuff she gets paid for? '"

that's one of my biggest pet peeves in regards to horrible attitudes people have for custodians. housekeepers don't exist to clean up after you. they work to make things pretty. these are two completely different things.


Twister June 15, 2011 @ 9:40 p.m.

Time was, most people were governed by their own opinion of themselves.

Back in the seventies, people started feeling "entitled," and began seeing themselves as "winning" when they could put someone else down or get away with anti-social acts. There was even formal "training" for this (e.g., EST), which preached that it was perfectly alright to be a spoiled brat; in fact, "assertiveness" was a high ideal of this (bowel?) "movement."

Barb may be a victim of this "new tradition," but her social instincts are significantly ahead of those of the Dick.


Evelyn June 16, 2011 @ 10:05 a.m.

ohhh. this brings up a commercial i saw yesterday for some show on bravo...

man: you're lucky you work for me. cleaning lady: you're lucky i work for you. m: you're luckier. cl: no. you're luckier. m: o_0

loooved it!


Barbarella Fokos June 16, 2011 @ 11:43 a.m.

I agree, it kills me when some Americans act like they grew up in a caste system. That person emptying your trash has a name, and a family, and favorite movies and pet peeves. We should never underestimate or denigrate people who are just as much a part (in many cases a more important part) of the community as everyone else. My dad taught me to respect everyone and treat them the same, regardless of their station in life. I'd much rather spend a day looking at photos of Lupita's recent wedding (that's her name) than spend a second passing that Dick in the hallway, let alone ride an elevator with him.


I Am Stardirt June 17, 2011 @ 11:21 a.m.

It is all too easy to forget that everyone deserves a break.Even Dick. Dick needs the help of his neighbors in order to realize that the world does not revolve around him. I have realized that if I avoid people that I do not agree with, I miss an opportunity to educate and then annoy them. The annoying part makes it all worthwhile.


Joaquin_de_la_Mesa June 17, 2011 @ 12:24 p.m.

Very good point, Diana. To dehumanize people who dehumanize others is to be just like them. I tell me kids all the time, other people's poor behavior never excuses your own.


Barbarella Fokos June 19, 2011 @ 8:10 a.m.

I could never have someone sort through my clutter, it's cathartic for me to do when I have the time. But the scrubbing? I don't scrub. Fortunately, I'm with someone who doesn't mind. In the past, I would pay friends or professionals to do the scrubbing for me. I have a dear friend who LOVES to scrub. In an obsessive-compulsive, clearing-of-the-head sort of way. She does what she wants and makes some money. Everyone wins! :)


Twister June 18, 2011 @ 6:07 p.m.

We all would do well to re-read "A Picture of Dorian Gray." Wilde was a master of irony, so one has to tease out the real meaning from between the lines. Long before Menken, Wilde was adept at "afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted."


Barbarella Fokos June 19, 2011 @ 8:07 a.m.

Wilde is one of my all-time favorite writers. :)


Visduh June 21, 2011 @ 4:31 p.m.

What you are/were dealing with here was a commonplace creature of these times and this place. By that I mean a J-E-R-K. There are thousands of them out there, and few realize that rules apply to them, that their actions can make life hard for others, and that others have a real reason to resent them. Much of this attitude and behavior goes back, I hate to admit, to the coming of age of my generation. We heard "If it feels good do it", and "Do your own thing, do what you wanna do" and a whole litany of such crap. That sort of thing continues today in more subtle guise, or sometimes not, such as Outback Steakhouse proclaiming "No rules, just right." (The raunchy behavior of fellow diners there a couple times is why I no longer dine in their establishments.)

The best you can hope for is not to die in your sleep, but to keep the number of jerks to a minimum in your life, and to enjoy your illusions about how most people are really not like that. Cheers.


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