Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: The 2018 Edition

It just seems like yesterday that I was writing the 2017 resolutions for everyone else. Where does the time go? Let’s get right to it for 2018.

1. Use blind cc (bcc: field) on group emails (everyone).

I feel like I shouldn’t have to bring this up, considering it’s been over 40 years since email was invented and around 20 years since we all had Outlook inboxes at work. But I’m still seeing people send group emails with every last email address in the To: field, which means people in that original mailing can Reply All, thereby making life a living hell until someone has the cojones to say “perhaps you should take this conversation offline.” Not sure where to find the bcc: field in your email provider? Look it up!

2. Place UPCs on top of cat litter boxes for easier shopping (cat litter manufacturers).

3. Create short-term incentive program for residents & businesses to recycle (City of Baltimore).

You’d think for a city that is notorious for its trash and littering problems they would be all about recycling and pushing hard to encourage people to use its recycling program. But I see TONS of garbage on the streets that’s recyclable. My building doesn’t even have a recycle bin – I have to collect my own and take it over to the recycling center about once every 6 weeks. I’ve talked to my community liaison from the Dept of Public Works about the possibility of an incentive program to get people recycling more – perhaps a tax credit or rebate. Money is a powerful motivator for some folks and it may be they’d be more willing to recycle if they knew there would be a pay-off later.

4. Stop trolling for women on Instagram (men).

5. Stop posting/sharing content with high ick factor (social media users).

You’ve seen these kind of posts: someone has shared content from another source prefaced by “EWWW” or “NOPE” and the shared content features something extremely disgusting or nightmare-inducing. For the love of Steve, why are you sharing what grossed you out? Do you want everyone else to suffer? Keep your sadomasochism off Facebook.

6. Create mobile device free zones/events AND/OR mobile device-friendly zones/events (theatres, concert halls, other performance venues).

I’ve seen many stories about performers stopping a show because someone decided their need to take a photo of the show or film the entire thing on their iPhone 20 trumped everyone else’s enjoyment of the show or film. I’ve also been the person asking adults to turn off their phones during a movie. (Three freakin’ times during Wonder Woman! I’m still annoyed when I think about it.) Since we all seem to be struggling to define proper cell phone etiquette, how about these venues take it upon themselves to designate special performances where mobile devices are not allowed? Conversely, how about events where mobile device use is encouraged?

7. Stop saying “I don’t see color/race/gender/disability” (everyone).

I know that many folks say this as a way to express their alliance and acceptance of diversity, but it comes off as disingenuous. Why? Because it’s okay to see these things; it’s quite another to take what you see and turn it into a reason to treat someone differently, whether it’s better or worse than you would want to be treated.

8. Design small apartments/condos with bathroom access from hallway or common area, not bedroom (developers).

I’ve been looking at apartments lately (hoping to move this summer, though we’ll see if it actually happens) and it seems many one-bedroom, one-bathroom units, regardless of the age of the property, are designed so that you have to walk through the bedroom to reach the bathroom. If I was a complete recluse who never had people over, I wouldn’t mind this. But on those occasions when people are visiting I would prefer NOT to have them traipsing through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. Even a Jack-and-Jill style bathroom like the Brady kids had – THREE doors! – would be better.

jack-and-jill bathroom, jack and jill bathroom, brady bunch

Sure, that Jack-and-Jill bathroom was too small for 6 kids, and Mike Brady could have designed something better, but it made for good television.

9. Add routes from Baltimore and Washington DC to Ocean City, MD (MegaBus).

I’m surprised MegaBus hasn’t added this route already, as Ocean City is a huge destination for folks in the DC and Baltimore area in the summer months. I’d like it for those times I want to go see Deena but don’t want to deal with driving out there. Of course, it would likely turn into a party bus, but that can happen anywhere.

10. Include expiration dates on lotions containing essential oils (cottage-industry/small-batch natural beauty product manufacturers).

What Would AGB Do?

Earlier today I was at the farmers market, picking out some squash and zucchini so I could make zucchini noodles with tofu (it’s really good). Standing right in front of the produce was a tall guy on his cell phone. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he was blocking other people’s access to the stand – he was too busy yammering away to give a damn. I manuevered around him, picked my items, and paid. Did the dude hang up? No – he actually took another call and stood there complaining about being bothered while he was trying to shop. Based on what he was muttering, I think the second call was actually work-related. The nerve. One of the salespeople at the produce stand was waiting for him to finish, because she stood there looking at him, not sure if she should say anything. It was annoying to watch.

Then this afternoon I read an article on Consumerist about how businesses are dealing with customers who are on their cell phones, and they asked readers to comment on what techniques would work. Many people suggested violence, others suggested signage, while others offered some phrases such as “I’m going to help the person behind you so you can finish your call, please step to the side and let me know when you’re ready.” All I can think is: how did we get here? And WWAGBD, which is short for What Would Alexander Graham Bell Do?

Alexander Graham Bell, telephone, inventor, phone

WWAGBD? Our boy Alec wouldn’t be texting while driving, that’s for damn sure.

I ask this because there are times when I am out and I am very aware of the high number of people more engaged with their phone than with their surroundings. I often think how weird we would look to an alien race who communicates telepathically and they don’t understand these little boxes we carry around and poke at occasionally. And sometimes I find myself getting irrationally angry at people who cannot seem to put down the damn phone and TALK TO ME BECAUSE I AM RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. You know who you are.

I try to avoid using my phone for calls when I’m out shopping. If I do, I usually look for an out-of-the-way spot to hide in while I have my conversation. And I don’t make or take calls while I’m at a restaurant eating with someone else – it has to be an urgent matter for me to answer the phone. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who has a sense of cell phone etiquette – and mind you, I slip up at times, especially if I am stressed out or I’m attempting to multitask (which I really am horrible at doing).

But back to my question: when confronted with poor phone etiquette, what would Alexander Graham Bell – or Alec, as he was known in his later years – do? For years the rumor has been that he hated the telephone. But according to his wife Mabel, that wasn’t the case at all – he just didn’t want one in his study because that’s where he did all his work. Check out this excerpt from a letter she wrote to the head of AT&T, long before the days of the iPhone:

Dear Mr. Carty:
I am beginning to get distressed over the many statements the papers have been publishing of Mr. Bell’s dislike of the telephone. Of course, he never had one in his study. That was where he went when he wanted to be alone with his thoughts and his work. The telephone, of course, means intrusion by the outside world. And the little difficulties and delays often attending the establishment of conversation in even well managed telephone circuits did irritate him, so that as a rule he preferred having others send and receive messages. But all really important business over the telephone he transacted himself.
There are few private houses more completely equipped with telephones than ours at 1331 Connecticut Avenue, and there was nothing that Mr. Bell was more particular about than our telephone service here. [Beinn Bhreagh, N.S.]. For nearly all of the thirty-five odd years we have been here he saw personally to its proper working. We never could have come here in the first place or continued here, but for the telephone which kept us in close touch with doctors and neighbors and the regular telegraph office. . . .Mr. Bell did like to say in fun, “Why did I ever invent the Telephone,” but no one had a higher appreciation of its indispensableness or used it more freely when need was—either personally or by deputy—and he was really tremendously proud of it and all it was accomplishing.

Two things pop out here:

  1. Alec didn’t have a phone in his study because that’s where he did his work.
  2. He appreciated its usefulness and “indispensableness” when he had need for the phone.

With those things in mind, I think it’s safe to assume that Mr. Bell would encourage people to use their phones while in line at Starbucks only when it is absolutely necessary. He would define necessity as being a matter of life or death, not figuring out your officemate’s drink order. He would remind Mr. Chats-a-Lot at the farmer’s market that the telephone can be too much of a distraction. And he would applaud businesses that establish rules for dealing with customers on cell phones.

Then he would get on his iPhone 4s and text his wife “OMG u wont believe what just happened at the farmers mkt.”