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RSVPhillippi | JuLY 2018

Dennis Phillippi

Let the Baby Have His Blankey

It was recently announced that the Chinese city of Xi’an has opened a “zombie pedestrian” lane for people walking and staring at their smart phone. It’s come to this. Instead of rightly ostracizing obnoxious people who can’t be bothered to be the slightest bit courteous, they are being rewarded with their own walking lane where they can continue to disconnect from the world around them.  At first this pandering genuinely outraged me. The idea of catering to individuals that would rather stroll out in front of a car than stop looking at social media struck me as appalling. Then I realized something, maybe making anti-social behavior easier will make the rest of our lives simpler. We’re not really a walking city, but in places like New York and New Orleans, idiots shambling along at half speed because they’re expecting a vitally important tweet any second are a real problem. When there are several hundred people on the same sidewalk there are unspoken agreements about behavior, and one of them is that everyone should try to move at around the same speed or get out of the way. Imbeciles texting with their buddy in Colorado tend to ignore this social compact. So why not give these jugheads their own lane? It gets them out of our way, and that’s a good thing.

 If only it were possible to do the same thing for the half-wits that stare at their phones while they’re driving. I can’t condemn anyone for talking on their phone while behind the wheel, mainly because I’m just as guilty as the next person of doing it. When I talk on my phone while driving it is beside my head, not in front of it.  Going 80 mph on the expressway with your head inclined at a 45 degree angle, focused entirely on your favorite fake news site is a quick ticket to rear-ending someone that very well might be armed. If they could be relied upon to actually use it, I wouldn’t be opposed to giving them their own lane. Maybe it could have barriers like those pop-up ones that make it possible for a four-year-old to bowl. Sure, they’d probably bang through it like bumper boats, but that’s their problem. The important thing is to get these simpletons away from those of us who would like to arrive at our destination alive.

Making it easier and, preferably, isolated, might make all kinds of irritating behavior more tolerable. Wouldn’t it be great if bars had a Plexiglas enclosure for people who lose volume control when they drink? It would be lovely to be able to see them shouting at one another without having to hear their opinions on sports, politics, and race. The woman who develops a voice that could cut glass after a few chardonnays would no longer be a source of misery for everyone around her. The guy with the sunglasses on the back of his neck who starts bellowing about the government once he’s downed his second well whiskey would be put on mute for those of us who prefer to drink in relative quiet.

Let’s go ahead and put in a line at airport security for the people who are going to complain non-stop about airport security. If you put having to take off your shoes above the possibility of being exploded, please get in the line to the left, the one that has a sound-proofed tunnel. We’re awfully sorry that you didn’t build in enough time to go through an X-ray machine in order to make your flight, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear you kvetching about it.

While we’re at it; hey lady who has a bunch of coupons and doesn’t intend to start writing the check for her groceries until they’ve all been rung up and put into her basket, please use the line marked “inconsiderate chuckleheads”. The same goes for people who plan to scratch off lottery tickets at the counter as soon as they buy them, people at a fast food restaurant who actually have to read the menu, and any man wearing a tank top in public. Here’s your line, please use it and don’t spread your miserable behavior on the rest of us.

I say we go ahead and set aside a movie theater for the mouth-breathers that can’t last an entire feature film without looking at their phone. If I’m watching a movie set in, say, the eighteenth century, those little bright blue rectangles lighting up around the theater tend to take me out of the moment. Obviously with only one theater set aside for these meatheads there won’t be much of a choice as to what movie they’re going to see, but considering they’re constantly updating their status during the thing, it doesn’t seem to matter. As to that, what could someone possibly be posting during a movie? “I’m at a movie bothering everyone around me by doing this?”

I understand at first blush the idea of bending over backwards for the very people who make us want to carry a hammer around with us seems like the tail wagging the dog. It seems like we should be able to expect just the tiniest bit of politeness out of our fellow man, but sadly, that isn’t the case. People exhibiting bad behavior generally don’t realize they’re doing so. We can no longer hope that those around us will behave according to even the simplest of societal norms, so let’s just accept it and build them their own separate society where they can roll down their windows and play their music at teeth-rattling volume, loudly have thoughts on emigration, and pay for their gas with change. It may seem like giving in because it is, but in the long run I’m guessing homicide rates would drop.