Friday, February 19, 2010

The Vigilante

"I See Rude People" by Amy Alkon McGraw-Hill Books 215 pages $16.95

Alkon writes "The Advice Goddess," a nationally-syndicated clumn and has made numerous appearances on NPR, CNN and MTV. You can read her at or find her on Twitter at amyalkon.

She is a woman on a mission -- change rude behaviors! She covers cell phone abusers, telemarketeers, parents who will not discipline their children and slovenly banking practices that lead to identity theft -- ours.

But before I pass along any of her solutions, I caution you to judge the audience - New Yorkrs are decisively not interested in being polite; most of the offenders in our Midwest are armed and many Southern Californians, unduly influenced by the Drama of Hollyweird, will go off on you. That said ...

Patronize coffee shops with a "no cell phones" policy. Legally then you are covered if you remind an abuser of this fact and they shoot you. Airport gates, plans, public transport, elevators -- "Excuse me, but you are invading our space (gesture at others) with your yelling."

Alkon can be kind of scary. She listened as a woman called eight different parents to invite their off-spring to her kid's birthday party. At peak volume, she gave out the phone number, street address and exact instructions on finding the house. Alkon wrote it all down and later on, called the woman at the house, read it all back to her and asked her if she realized just how much information she'd given out to a roomful of strangers? Any one of whom could have been a child molester?

Clearly the woman is deranged about this -- Alkon feels that telemarketeers who call her at home should be tracked down and invoiced ($50/hour) for disturbing her. "Time is money" and why should her time be wasted and the stranger make money on HER phone?

Too many parents are raising the equivalent of wolf packs and when challeneged will retort, "Do you have children? No? Well, you're not a parent!" (as if squeezing out a kid makes one a parent.) Alkon's cool retort? "What a pity that the person whose job it IS isn't doing it ..." (well-timed sigh.)

Like I say - pick your spot.

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