IT’S the little things that annoy me most and when they pile up one after the other — and oh how I wish this wasn’t true — sometimes, I snap.
It’s usually in the most ineffectual, middle class and white way as possible.
I might forcefully close a door, use a stern tone with the dog or, if I’m really angry, refuse to thank the barista for my morning half-caff soy latte.
They’re all tiny rebellions that only I notice and only I regret for days afterwards.
So the stuff that really winds me up includes people who don’t open doors for others, those who barge onto the train before letting other off and anyone who litters.
And when did people forget how to chew with their mouths closed? When did they forget how to safely let other cars join the flow of traffic? When did it become acceptable to not clean up after their damn dogs? And what happened to all the other common courtesies that are supposed to be taught to us by our elders, so that we don’t grow into the morons of society.
Unfortunately, though, the morons seem to be taking over.
The reason all this has been irritating me more than a mosquito bite on a wasp sting lately is that my wife is pregnant, and at five months she is very obviously pregnant, yet every day she rides crowded public transport to and from work and very rarely does anyone offer her a seat.
Now, I thought giving up your seat for a pregnant woman was the no-brainer of social etiquette.
Sometimes I see people hesitate to give up their seats for the elderly or obese, worried that they’re not old or fat enough.
My personal rule is to get up whenever I spy someone who may need the seat more than I do and then treat the seat like it’s a charity beggar, by moving away quickly and refusing to make eye contact with it.
According to my wife, however, the only people who regularly give up their seats for her are football supporters and the drunker they are, the more courteous they get.
Now if we, as a society, are being out-mannered by drunken football supporters, that’s a society on the brink of extinction.
Oh, and for anyone wondering why my wife doesn’t just drive to work, or I don’t pick her up, well that’s because we can’t afford to pay for parking in the city and when she’s on the way home, I’m still at work. Also, the reason two fulltime professionals in their mid-30s who are expecting their first child can’t afford parking, and are still renting, is all down to the great lie that is trickle-down economics and out of control housing prices. Thanks again, unregulated capitalism.
What I desperately need help with though, before I finally lose it and slam a door or yell at my dog for real, is working out who to blame for this complete breakdown in everyday etiquette and how to fix it.
Is it the fault of overworked parents who aren’t home enough, so don’t have the time or energy to raise their children properly?
Maybe it’s the phones that so many of us are glued to, instead of noticing and remembering that we’re part of a society that needs us as much as we need it.
Or is it that the human race is slowly, and unavoidably, evolving into a race of morons?
If that’s true, we may as well burn all the fossil fuels we can, chow down on the endangered species and continue ignoring all the pregnant women, because it’ll all be over soon.
Which is a pity, because one day I was hoping to take my daughter to the football, where I was going to teach her some proper manners.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.