Thursday, August 23, 2007

Etiquette question

Pretty Lady has received an etiquette question! She could not be more thrilled. Moreover, it is quite an easy one!

I was pulling in to the local 7-11 when I saw a man sitting in his Mercedes with the window down. I watched as he casually tossed the lid of his ice cream container out the window onto the asphalt.

What should I have done?
In this situation, you of course park, run eagerly up to the gentleman, scoop up the object he has lost, and say, "Excuse me, you dropped something!" You then restore his precious possession with a smile, waving away his thanks.


Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady, please tell me you would not actually do that in NYC. Remember Kitty Genovese, anyone?

Chris Rywalt said...

Come now. That was an anomaly, even in New York. Otherwise you wouldn't remember it. (Quick: Name the last junkie who died in New York.)

Pretty Lady said...

'That' was not only an anomaly, but 'that' happened in 1964, did not happen nearly according to the popularly reported version, and is an example of the 'bystander effect'; to wit, people are less likely to assume responsibility if they know there are many other people around who might do so. Didn't you read 'The Tipping Point?'

Chris Rywalt said...

New Yorkers are actually very nice. I can't even tell you the number of times I've seen people helping strangers carry baby strollers up subway steps. In every case, the woman pauses at the steps, someone instantly and effortlessly scoops up one end of the stroller, they proceed down or up, and then the stranger vanishes into the crowd with the woman's thanks.

Anonymous said...

No, that was not mainstream, average neighborhood New Yorkers. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I knew I could generate controversy if I really, really tried.

Chris Rywalt said...

Here's what really happened. And it's funny that Pretty Lady and I think along such similar lines.

I was pulling in to the local 7-11 when I saw a man sitting in his Mercedes with the window down. I watched as he casually tossed the lid of his ice cream container onto the asphalt.

I quickly finished parking, strode out, picked up the lid, and offered it to the man.

"You dropped something," I said.

He continued to eat his ice cream, staring directly ahead through his windshield, as if he was all alone, savoring each bite. He was very fat and toad-like. There was no room between his belly and the steering wheel and he was using his gut as a shelf.

I flicked the lid onto his belly and began to walk to the 7-11. As I did I turned to see as he picked up the lid and prepared to drop it out the window again.

The parking lot tipped dangerously sideways and -- to be heard over the roaring of blood through my head -- I shouted while pointing:


He stopped.

As near as I could tell, he didn't litter again at any point between my time in the building and driving back out of the lot.

The scary thing -- the really scary thing -- is, I'm pretty sure if he'd littered again, I would've done something that would've gotten me thrown in jail. I'm quick to anger, but that's a low level of anger; to get me really, really angry -- like Incredible Hulk angry -- is very, very difficult, and doesn't happen often at all, but when it does I find there's this little Chris inside my head cowering under the coffee table, and boy, is he terrified.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Chris. I stand corrected. Unless Chris is around, all of us are relatively safe no matter what our behavior.

I don't litter. And even if I used to, I don't anymore. (That's what Chris gets to read.)

Chris Rywalt said...

To balance your idea of me, I should say that I tried this tactic once before and it worked beautifully and nearly exactly as Pretty Lady described it. But this previous time, it was a car full of young men -- boys, really, probably high school age -- and the driver tossed out a soft drink bottle. I handed it to him and said "You dropped this," and he took it back sheepishly and actually said, "Thanks."

I think it worked because I'm getting some grey in my hair; I'm finding getting old has its privileges, among them getting young people to listen to you for no reason at all. Because, really, any one of four young men, probably from the baseball or football team, could totally kick my ass.

Russian Brides said...

Russian Brides