In a barn By wolves


I have been in a large number of countries in the last few years, and I have seen an absolutely astonishing variety of behaviors in those cultures. Often times the very same action considered good form in one place will be considered quite rude in another. I have learned that context is everything, and that knowing what is appropriate sometimes depends on a keen understanding, and sometimes is easily inferred.  Even within an ostensibly single culture, there can be a great deal of variety, and mores and values will change overtime, precipitating new behaviors.

That said, I was fairly surprised to witness what I consider to be quite rude behavior at the Brooklyn location of my gym this evening.  I had just finished my workout and shower and was getting dressed when I heard a click click sound. I looked over in horror to see a guy sitting on the bench next to me, clipping his nails gingerly over the bench, paying close attention to his fingers but seemingly none at all to the clippings themselves.  I watched and listened as the clip, clip clip went on for several minutes, shrapnel flying every which way. When he was done he admired himself for a few moments in the mirror, then went to shower, leaving this lovely present for the rest of the members and staff. Convinced I was being Punk’d, I looked around for the camera crew, but alas, this was no TV show. I thought back carefully to the look of this guy. He didn’t appear to be missing a chromosome or from some (very) far away place, but clearly there was something amiss. Where exactly was he raised and by whom? I wondered if this was just his secret, shameful locker room activity, or if perhaps he did this in other places. Maybe over a bowl of soup at a nice restaurant in front of his girlfriend. Perhaps in church while his pastor bored him with something lofty. Whatever. I am just thankful that this isn’t my home gym, and it does push me ever so slightly to look for an apartment in Manhattan over Brooklyn.


  1. Kelly says:

    I chalk it up to complete self absorption, which makes me crazy. Getting off an escalator and just standing there, at the top, as you make YOUR decision, with no mind to the hordes behind you. Pushing a double wide stroller down the the very middle of the aisle at (insert name here), impeding everyone’s flow. Speaking very loudly on your cell phone as you’re checking out at the grocery store so no one is sure, least of all the checkout person, to whom you are speaking. I won’t go on, but could.

    As I tell my 14-year old daughter, who is very well mannered 99% of the time, “Manners matter.” That came from Julie Andrews in ‘The Princess Diaries’ but I’ve totally co-opted the line.

  2. Mom says:

    Count me a fan of Miss Manners, who often observes that good manners are really just a sign that the person thinks about others–that he/she is not so self-absorbed as to be oblivious to the fact that his/her behaviors and actions affect others. (Or worse still, so selfish that he/she doesn’t care.)

    On the other hand, I seriously doubt that there are more assholes per capita in Brooklyn than in Manhattan, although I suppose I could be wrong.