Punctuality Rules!

Better Than Two Pistols at Dawn

Better Than Two Pistols at Dawn

j0402667.jpgI know. The tone here at Punctuality Rules! is so calm and gracious, it’s hard to believe that I basically started the blog as a place to air a whole series of pet peeves. People who can’t keep its/it’s, your/you’re or they’re/there/their straight. People who can’t be bothered to say thank you. People who are selfishly enwrapped in their own worlds. People who don’t use turn-signals when they drive . . . okay, I haven’t gotten to that one, yet, but you get the idea.

Personally, I feel that it’s reasonable to expect a certain amount of civility in my fellow humans, a certain respect for the rules (grammatical and otherwise). One of the interesting things about rule-systems is that they tend to develop as civilizations get larger and more complex. A group of 10 people can get along fairly simply with just a few, basic rules. (Don’t kill anyone, watch out for the community’s children, and share the food.) As you start adding people, though, the rules exponentially expand. And, why? Because it helps keep us all from killing each other.

“Good Manners” may have that namby-pamby, weak-wrist kind of feel–something ladies do over their teacups–but in fact, it’s a societal imperative that gives us formal means of not aggravating each other to the point of homicide. An 18th-century gentleman challenging another to a duel, demanding, “I must have satisfaction, sir!” is literally a step away from killing the poor fop who just insulted him by declaring blue neck-cloths to be in bad taste. Any number of duels have been fought over ridiculous reasons, and any number of them ended in the death of one of the participating parties. But … and this is important … they were civilized deaths. Anyone angry enough to challenge someone to a duel is angry enough to draw his sword right there and run the other through … which would probably lead to the victim’s best friend running the swordsman through, and next thing you know, you’ve got a free-for-all and a pile of corpses in the drawing room. The formality of the duel gave cooler heads time to prevail.

If you try to retain basic manners, you are going to be less likely to beat another car (or driver) with a baseball bat for cutting you off on the drive to work. A small sense of decency will keep you from smacking the pesky toddler to the ground when he breaks your priceless Ming vase … you might take the toddler’s mother to court and wring every penny out of her 401(k), but at least there won’t be any blood shed. That’s what manners and rules are for.

So, really, you see, Punctuality Rules! is just helping me keep my grammar-rage under control. Instead of lunging through the computer screen every time I see yet another person put an apostrophe in a plural, I control myself and get my satisfaction here.

My own little, personal dueling ground. How very civilized.

So … two questions for you:

  • But, tell me, what are the pet peeves that would drive you to violence? (If, you know, you were less civilized yourself.)
  • And, do you think that the distance of avenging wrongs through the internet is an improvement over a slap in the face by a glove? Or are we allowing ourselves to be too distanced from misbehaviors witnessed on a daily basis?

19 thoughts on “Better Than Two Pistols at Dawn

  1. --Deb Post author

    I don’t recall ever having gotten violent, either, but I definitely have taken my attention and business elsewhere. I’d rather patronize someone who can string a coherent sentence together and has some basic manners than someone who does not–whether it’s a business transaction or a blog to read. For that matter, my friends and family members are fairly literate, too. There’s some point to be made here, about the company you keep?

  2. Evan

    Grammar hasn’t ever driven me to violence. Sheer rudeness and bloody-mindedness (yes I do mean Centrelink – Australian government social welfare agency – and banks) have certainly come close.

    I think being able to vent over the internet is probably an improvement – seeing it on screen makes it easier for me to be less emotional

    Evan’s last blog post..Embracing Our Conflicts: One Method for Personal Change

  3. J

    I have complained about the it’s/its, they’re/there/their type of things on my blog before, too. My real life friends think I’m weird for caring about these things. But some of them tend to type ‘loose’ when they mean ‘lose’, too. Even after I correct them. (Which I only do once…I do, actually, value my friendships, and I am not their mother.) Oh, and one of them says “Me and her”. Sigh. The killer is that she has a higher position than I do, and makes more money. Not fair.

  4. --Deb Post author

    @Brad–Of course, I sometimes think I’m the only person in America who didn’t like Seinfeld. They complained too much and I could never sit through an episode! But somehow, I’m not surprised to hear that….

    @Maria–Well, you know, it’s not so much that I’m passionate as that, like, you know, I just have a strong belief that people should obey basic society rules–like grammar. You know?

    @J–Of course, the only people READING our online complaints about these things are people who care about the same thing, more or less. And, I know, you have to address these things verrrrry carefully in real life! One of my co-workers comes to my office to vent when he’s upset and he’ll start with, “Between you and I….” and it drives me nuts. I appreciate he feels he can confide in me, but I wince every time.

  5. Cindy

    The rolling of the eyes by people drives me crazy. Even though they haven’t said anything or made an effort to talk to me, I want to dive into a long speech about rudeness.

  6. --Deb Post author

    Air-quotes are annoying at any time–even when they’re used correctly!

    Which means, of course, that it just kills me when I find myself using them…. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and then I kick myself.

  7. Cindy

    You’ve done it again and yet, you did not tell me that there were additional blogs to read. Do you really want me start listing my pet peeves? I have so many………One thing that get me is TAILGATERS especially when the weather is not good. Mind you I don’t drive that slowly either. Didn’t the accident in Florida teach these people ANYTHING……. Also people who cut you off just to get one or two cars ahead of you…..

  8. Sherri

    I love this post! I also have grammar pet-peeves.

    Every month when I have to pay my debt collectors I long for a time when I could slap each of them in the face with a glove, challenge them to a duel, and if I win they would have to cancel the debt. If I lose, well, my estate would have to pay the rest of them.

    Of course, back then, there were no debt collectors because there were no credit cards, HELOCs, and extremely few loans of any type!

    My mom was a business English and accounting teacher. I was corrected when learning to speak. I had a tough time in grammar in school because I knew how to say and write everything properly, but I couldn’t (and still can’t) tell you what all the terms for things are. Since I already knew how to speak and write properly I also had no desire to learn any of the terms.

    Most of my friends are very literate, so correcting them isn’t an issue. We all correct all of our children when they are in our company. None of us tolerates poor grammar from anyone under 18, or 22 if they’re still in college. I do not, however, suggest correcting your teacher during class. Doing so resulted in me getting a spanking by the principal for embarrassing the teacher. It was irrelevant that I was correct.

    Sherri’s last blog post..Debt Report Feb 2008

  9. Sherri

    I wasn’t brave, I was just on automatic pilot. I was so used to being corrected and correcting others that I didn’t think, I just blirted out the correct grammar.

    My parents used to spank us again if we were spanked at school. This is the only time my mom and dad laughed and called the principal to say the punishment was extremely harsh given there was no crime. An apology was suggested in case it ever happened again. My dad went to school and met with the teacher and gave her some witty come-backs to use in case I managed to correct her again. She never made anymore errors after that so I didn’t do it again, but I was guaranteed to be spared a spanking in the future. My mom sent my dad because he was much more diplomatic than she was, and much more charming to my female teachers.

    I got an apology for harsh punishment from both the teacher and the principal.

    Sherri’s last blog post..Debt Report Feb 2008

  10. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    Personally, I am greatly irritated by willful stupidity. That covers the deliberate use of bad grammar because someone thinks it’s “kewl” or “macho”.

    All my life two things that have really irritated me are, “Well, you know what I mean” to excuse the use of poor English. The other is, “Where do you get all them big words?” The latter is simply a declaration of someone’s ignorance and inability to comprehend why anyone would choose not to sound like an illiterate idiot.

    Decent grammar and language is not that difficult and even easier if a person doesn’t have a large vocabulary. But it’s easier to be lazy and try to pull others down to your own level than to invest a minimal effort into speaking and writing correctly.
    .-= James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil´s last blog ..Have Faith =-.