One of the things I need to work on is my ability to tune out other people, especially in public settings. Case in point: my weekly trips to Starbucks. Almost every time I go, I end up getting annoyed by loud, obnoxious, and/or inconsiderate people who inevitably filter in after me (I usually get there before 7 in an attempt to avoid these people for as long as possible, but they always show up, without fail). These are the people on their way to work who feel the need to click their automatic lockers twice so that their car honks loudly. These are the people who sit down to catch up with old friends and talk as though their companion was fifty feet away instead of two. These are the people who don’t understand that you don’t have to shout on your cell phones in order for the other person to hear you. These are the stay at home moms who bring their kids and then proceed to ignore said child’s screams, as though the rest of us aren’t even there. Or the people who leave their barking dogs in the car while they sit inside for half and hour. These are the people who play music on their cell phones with no headphones because, you know, those would just be inconvenient. This is that guy who chain smokes cigars so that it’s uncomfortable for anyone else to be in any part of the outdoor seating area.
Call me old fashioned or a stick-in-the-mud or whatever, but I have this belief that people should act as civil, courteous beings when in public places. Your time, your thoughts, your conversations are not more important than anyone else’s (shocking, isn’t it, to find that the world doesn’t revolve around you and you’re actually not all that?!). You could flip this around and say that my desire for quiet isn’t more important than someone else’s desire for noise, but the way I look at it is that silence isn’t bothering anyone, whereas loud, obnoxious behavior is potentially bothering every single person around you. I’m not saying be absolutely silent, I’m just saying be courteous. In other words, use your “inside” voice, even if you’re at an outside table. Push aside the fierce American independent spirit for half and hour and actually consider how your actions might be affecting others. Difficult, I know, but completely doable! Trust me, others will thank you for it.