You Miss Manners?
by Mad Dog
If every man, woman and child on Earth were to
stand on each others shoulders the stack would reach from here to the moon and back
twelve times. And win the Human Pyramid competition at the National College Cheerleading
|| While everyones all hopped up about January 1stbooking restaurant
reservations, buying stock in Aspirin.com, and honing those "Its not really the
new millennium, you know" argumentsno one seems to be paying attention to
another milestone thats coming up on October 12th. Not only is it the 507th
anniversary of Christopher Columbus refusing to ask for directions and landing in the
wrong place, it also marks the day when experts predict the population of the Earth will
hit a whopping six billion.
Thats a lot of people. In fact its a billion more
than were on the planet twelve years ago. To put this number in perspective, if on October
12th every man, woman and child on Earth were to stand on each others shoulders the
stack would reach from here to the moon and back twelve times. And win the Human Pyramid
competition at the National College Cheerleading Championship, beating out all those Texas
teams, pissing off a lot of mothers, and probably resulting in at least one fewer person
being alive on the planet.
There are ways to look at it which take the edge of it. At his
current net worth Bill Gates could hand each one of those six billion people $15.24 in
cash and still have enough left over to buy Mexico. Well, as long as the head of the
national police wanted to sell it. Come to think of it, that doesnt help. Its
still a lot of people.
They listened to an actor dressed as Abe Lincoln. They were lectured by a Nobel Peace
Prize winner. They short-sheeted each others beds and had shaving cream fights in
the halls. But at least they were polite about it.
|| With this many bodies
packed onto the planet wed better make sure we start treating each other with
courtesy, respect, and "Hey! Im not done talking to you, bonehead! Quit
skipping to the end of this paragraph, will you?" While it seems all we ever hear
about is road rage, hate crimes, people fighting on The Jerry Springer Show, and the
English newspaper The Sun running topless photographs of princess-to-be Sophie Rhys-Jones
in the name of exposing the truth, its good to know that some people are trying to
be civil, even if theyre passing legislation to do it.
In Louisiana, where any given night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans
puts Rhys-Jones to shame, the state legislature passed a bill making it mandatory for
students to address teachers and other school employees as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss. This
really isnt as silly as it sounds, since they also have the option of using
"maam" or "sir". Legislators debated long and hard over whether
to include "Yo, teach", "Hey you", "Underpaid", and
"Whats the matter, couldnt get a real job?" as alternate greetings,
but decided they needed to reserve some Official Salutations for themselves.
Not to be outdone, members of Congress have
been working hard to become more courteous. The House of Representatives, you may recall,
is where Pete Stark called a female colleague a whore and Dick Armey renamed Barney Frank
as Barney Fag. True, this is nothing compared to the Taiwanese Parliament, where
theyve been known to have out and out fistfights, but thats only because Jesse
Ventura is a governor and not a member of Congress. So far.
In the name of etiquette, manners, and any excuse being a good
reason to take a free trip away from the family, two hundred legislators went to Hershey,
Pennsylvania last March to learn how to behave. They listened to an actor dressed as Abe
Lincoln. They were lectured by a Nobel Peace Prize winner. They short-sheeted each
others beds and had shaving cream fights in the halls. But at least they were polite
In the old days New Yorkers would have seen the subway car as half empty, now they view it
as being half full. Which, of course, makes it a much better hunting ground for mugging.
|| Even in New York
City, known as much for people being rude as, well, people being rude, there are signs of
improvement. Mayor Rudolf Guliani (Official Motto: "I can kick Hillarys butt
around Times Square") has made this a priority, going so far as to send the police to
sensitivity training and cab drivers to courtesy school. Hes so into it he even
stopped signing his letters "Fuggedaboutit, Rudy."
This new found attitude is not only taking root, but spreading
through the city. Recently a man died on the subway and the body rode around for five
hours before transit police arrested him for loitering. Just kidding. Well, about his
being arrested, anyway.
While skeptics say this was a case of New Yorkers not wanting
to get involved, it was actually a demonstration of their newfound civilitythey
didnt want to disturb what they thought was the poor guys nap. This marks a
major change in the New York attitude. In the old days they would have seen the subway car
as half empty, now they view it as being half full. Which, of course, makes it a much
better hunting ground for mugging.
So when October 12th rolls around and the world feels a little
more crowded, dont let it get to you. Instead of pushing for a little more space on
the bus, cutting in front of someone at the checkout line, or leaning on your horn when
someone cuts you off on the freeway, take a cue from our leaders. Show respect to a
teacher. Smile at your Congressman. And if you see someone sleeping on the subway put a
blanket on them, wipe the drool from their chin, and place a Hersheys Kiss on their
lap for when they wake up. The other 5,999,999,999 people in the world will thank you for
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them instead of sleeping on the subway.