E is for modern etiquette (ABCW)

Use the blind person/wheelchair rule.

When you say etiquette, some people’s eyes glaze over, singularly uninterested in knowing which fork to use in a seven-course meal they’ll never be invited to.

I understand that. I’m going to suggest some more practical ones. Feel free to add to these in the comments.


Every movie theater, every concert hall announces, before the lights go out, to turn off your phone. This means YOU too. So, halfway through the movie is NOT the time to pull out your phone to check the time. Instead of looking at the movie, I’m looking at you. And when you bolt out of your chair as soon as the credits begin – often missing ancillary information about the film – I’m the one you can’t see glaring at you.

When you’re crossing the street, know that you are NOT as good a multitasker as you think you are. Stick your phone in your pocket until you get to the other side.

This is especially true of you who decide to come out from between parked cars in the middle of the block and, more often than not, walk diagonally across the road. If I accidentally hit someone while riding my bicycle, it’ll be one of those fools.


You may be surprised to know that the bus you’ve been waiting on to board might just be letting off people first. Give them room to do so, lest they inadvertently step on your foot or worse.

When you’re going to an ATM, give the person ahead of you some privacy so that one can type in the PIN without prying eyes. Someone recently had finished his transaction before me but stood off to the side without vacating the area.

Likewise, when you’re getting confidential information from your pharmacist, you do not want to be feeling the breath of someone behind you. Back off!

And it still needs to be said: cover your mouth when you cough, preferably into the elbow.


The reason the law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians is that the driver goes first, the pedestrians might easily find themselves stuck in the middle of the intersection when the lights change.

Don’t block the sidewalk with your parked car. Don’t block a crosswalk with your car, even though you’re only going to be away for a “few minutes.”

Use the blind person/wheelchair rule. If YOU were blind or in a wheelchair, would YOUR behavior hamper your access?

Clear your sidewalk of snow and ice by more than a shovel-width.

Don’t smoke in the bus kiosk, especially when it is CLEARLY MARKED; it’s not nice to poison others.

By following these few simple suggestions, you’ll make me, and countless others, VERY happy.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

12 thoughts on “E is for modern etiquette (ABCW)”

  1. Oh, my gosh, yes, all of these. But especially the personal space one. I’ve had people loom over me in the checkout line and I am standing there thinking “The checker is working as fast as she possibly can, she will get to you. Back off”

  2. Hey, this is AMURICA, buddy; I’M more important than YOU; YOU watch out for ME! seems to be our current cultural ethic… What I want to know is, when did they repeal the law requiring drivers to use directional signals?!

  3. Adding my pet-peeve – when in a conversation with someone, don’t say “I have to take this call” – hugely disrespectful! The person on the other end of the line can really wait, or leave a message or text.
    I know teachers who collect all the cell phones at the beginning and they can pick it up at the end of the hour – good strategy!
    Or, play “candy crush” when you’re listening to any lecture or speech. If you don’t want to be there, at least be honest enough to stay away! If that speech is a requirement for your job, there are enough other jobs you can apply to.
    Better stop here, because I can write a whole chapter to everyone’s annoyance:):)

  4. And so true!!!

    Although in a totally different place of the world… I feel like you, your examples are actual here also…

    I would like to add one… if you go somewhere, leave the trash where it ought to be and not within some cm’s besided a trashcan… the litter everywhere is so annoying!!

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  5. Very true, Roger. This is valid across the world!
    Glad you listed these.
    Really wonder how some people don’t have this much sense or understanding.
    They need to be coached for sure.
    Our world will be a better & happier place with s etuchiquette & empathy.

  6. Definitely all three. My additions:
    • Talk softly or Not at All in the Library Etiquette.
    • Remove Crying Babies and Screaming Children Out of the Store Etiquette

  7. I love the song. I agree with everything. I’m pharmacist and a few days ago one of the patients ‘showed’ me how she coughs, right in my face! And I’m ill now…

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