I live by a code - a clearly defined set of policies that specifies which personal behaviors are acceptable, which are rude, which are annoying and which ones are deal breakers. I've been like this for some time now - in fact, sometimes I wonder how I got this way, because it's not actually normal. And, since I sometimes come off as a bohemian lefty what with my flyaway hair and funked up trendy style, people are often taken aback by my standards. They expect this sort of judgment to come with a string of pearls and a twin set.
The good thing about policies is that they give me a very specific prism through which to analyze the world. For example: my policies protect me from people who only have friends from the present stage of their lives - they are not to be trusted with your heart, ever, because you're only as good as what you can do for them right now. My policies tell me that hoarders are trouble any way you slice it - not only is hoarding likely a symptom of some big dark psychological monster lurking in the shadows, even in the best case scenario you'll eventually end up cleaning up after them, and that will really suck. (You can only imagine how I feel about people who don't clean their bathrooms.)
I follow my own rules and policies, so it's really easy to trick myself into doing things. For example, I believe that cheating is always bad. Always. So, let's say I don't want to finish folding my laundry...left to my own devices, I'll just stack it on my cedar chest for a week or two and slowly wear my rumpled clothes. However, since I'm watching a Cubs game where the score is 8-2 in the middle of the 9th, I can make a bet with myself that if the Dodgers win I have to fold my laundry immediately. Chances are I'll soon be folding my clothes because to leave them in a heap would now be cheating. Stupid? Yes. But you'd be amazed at the things I've made myself do just because I was playing some game of chance with myself.
My policies help me set priorities, make me socially savvy and help me get more from my interaction with the world. And they make me more open to other opinions and ideas, too, because there aren't actually that many of them when you get right down to it. Policies only apply to things that are of extreme importance to me...most other things are open to discussion and I'll give a wide berth to all manners of eccentricities and behaviors. (Plus, there is the over-riding policy that, in general, fighting and grudge holding should be reserved as a final option, so I generally give people a lot of rope before I tighten any nooses.) Of course, our world is yin and yang, so there's a dark side to having policies, too. And here's mine: because policies are reserved for things that are really really important to me I have a hairpin trigger where policy violations are concerned, and in the past few months I've found myself completely tweaked off by strangers violating one of my deeply entrenched policies - and when I say tweaked, I mean really, really pissed off.
The policy in question: You, as a person, are 100% responsible for politely interacting with others, and part of this entails responsibly taking up appropriate space in the world without thoughtlessly imposing on others. Violation of this policy will get you a serious verbal reprimand, usually with place-putting precision to be sure there is no ambiguity that an offense was committed.
Violation No 1: I believe you may have heard me bitching about mommies and their baby barges? It's a public walkway, not your personal parking spot. Or your private classroom to teach skills your toddler can't comprehend and won't use for another 15 years. Or a virtual phone booth for you to stand and have your pointless conversation about what to have for dinner. Move over, Babyweight.
Violation No. 2: Parking spots are first come first served. Or, more precisely, first CAR, first served. There is no such thing as saving a parking space. You do not, ever, get out of a car and run into a space on the opposite side of the street and stand there to save it while your driver goes another block or two to turn around and come back at it. You do not, ever, go downstairs when your friends call you from the Kennedy to tell you they're at the Irving Park exit and stand in a space to hold it while they are stuck in Cubs traffic. Holding parking spots is not like holding movie theater seats while a friend gets popcorn. It's like queue jumping at Ikea on a Saturday afternoon. You deserve to be trampled by angry Swedes.
Violation No. 3: While cars do not interact with their surroundings once parked, going to a movie is generally something you do with friends, and therefore it is reasonable to want to sit with the people you came with. However, if you know a theater is going to be crowded it is unbelievably rude to sit your group down with one seat on either side of you. This means that later, when a couple comes in and looks for seats, they are going to have to split up and bookend you and your lazyass friends. Is it that difficult to pay attention and move your group over a seat to give people a chance to sit together? Or do you just like being a complete tit?
Violation No. 4: I realize you are on your front porch and should be able to have any conversation you wish. But must you shout into your phone? It's making me uncomfortable, because in the time it takes my dog and I to walk from first to last earshot of you I learn that you have a yeast infection, your friends don't like your boyfriend, and you don't like having sex with the cat looking at you. This is not information I needed about you. You're a stranger.
Violation No. 5: Back to the seat saving thing. Let's say you have a large group coming to a concert/movie, etc. with open seating. Sit someplace that obviously has room for all of you, and make sure you save that space if you want to sit together. Don't go sit someplace that has almost enough space and then try to cram your late arrivals in next to the people that got there before you, because now the early birds have to be considerate and try to accommodate you, but in doing so they will get stuck with bad seats that have obstructed views and no access to the aisle. This is all your fault, and it serves you right if the old lady in front of you has smelly silent acid farts all the way through the program.
I'm giving you notice. Stop this behavior immediately, or it is completely within my rights to start enforcing. And it will NOT be pretty. According to the policy, all bets are off.
And FYI, the Cubs lost. This draft was saved mid-way, and my laundry is now put away.