Friday, July 13, 2012

Uncivil Disobedience

In my last post about civility, I forgot to mention another aspect: the rules don't apply to everyone except you.

There is little more annoying than stepping into an elevator and finding everyone engaged in conversation -- with themselves. Unless you're in the schizophrenic ward of an asylum, you'll soon notice these people are jabbering away not into thin air but into small metal devices lodged in their ears. (I believe they're called bluetooth, which makes no sense at all since they are placed in the ear, not the mouth, but I digress). Yes, the cell phone is the most uncivil device ever created, causing people to ignore others in their presence, or worse, leading them to disregard a live person in front of them to answer an incoming ring. Presumably, the lack of a phone cord was the advantage of cordless mobile phones over landlines, yet some individuals remain unable to sever the umbilical cord, taking their devices everywhere, because God forbid they should miss a phone call. After all, any incoming call is more important than whomever they might be with or whatever they might be doing.

Yoga is supposed to alleviate stress, especially the stress of daily life. The whole point of yoga is to disconnect from the outside world, according to Northern California yoga instructor Alice Van Ness. So, when she saw a student chatting on her cell phone, she told her class of Facebook employees to turn off their phones. Later, when she saw the same woman texting on her phone, the instructor shot her a disapproving glance. She didn't say anything, but we've all seen that look from teachers.

Two weeks later, the instructor was fired. Her termination letter from Plus One Health Management referenced the incident, noting the Facebook employee had been "embarrassed and shocked by the confrontation" with the instructor. "Unless a client requires us to specifically say 'no' to something, we prefer to say 'yes' whenever possible," the letter added. By that logic, I should find a doctor or lawyer who only tells me what I want to hear instead of what I need to hear that might displease me.

So what have we learned from this?

1. Rules apply to everyone, including you.
2. When in a classroom setting or public gathering, turn your cell phone to 'off' or 'vibrate'.
3. If you attend a class, focus on the lesson and the instructor, not your cell phone.
4. Be considerate of fellow classmates, who came there to learn something, even if you didn't.
5. Don't be alone in the crowd; be part of the crowd. Put the phone away and talk to the live people next to you.
6. If you're foolish enough to hire uncivil employees, at least make civility part of their training.
7. Don't fire employees for doing their jobs or for insisting on the proper working conditions to do the job you hired them to do.

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