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Pet Peeves Vol II. New Installment of a Cup of Joe

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Welcome friends, grab yourself a ‘Cup of Joe’, pull up a chair and let’s chat for a while about Pet Peeves Vol II.

A few months ago I blogged on a subject that I indicated would be the first in a number of blogs I will write on – Pet Peeves.

Pet peeves, as defined by The Cambridge English Dictionary are those “things in life that especially annoy you”. We all have them. They are those little irritants that we experience on a frequent basis that cause a spike in our blood pressure and a gritting of our teeth. I’m sure that some of the pet peeves I will share with you will resonate with you and perhaps even be your pet peeves. I encourage you to share with me some of your pet peeves for future articles.

From some of the feedback I received from my first blog on pet peeves, it appears that many others are also disgusted by the proliferation of discarded cigarette butts on public property and thoroughfare, and that a number of you have a very low tolerance for those pesky telemarketing agents. And so here’s my second installment dealing with two more of my personal human irritants.

First up involves the lack of civility and good manners by so many today in their use of smart phones. I’ve had two recent examples this past week that served illustrate what I’m talking about.

Last week I sat in a doctor’s waiting room waiting for my name to be called and had to endure a woman’s conversation on her smart phone for about 10 minutes. Now it’s one thing in a setting such as a doctor’s waiting room to make a quick call of an urgent nature to someone and to speak in a hushed tone. The message generally will be brief and to the point. But it’s quite another to use your smart phone in a telephone conversation for all the public to hear, just to pass the time. That’s what magazines are for! Speaking in a normal conversational voice as if the party on the other end of the phone was right in front of her, this lady described for all of us to hear her entire weekend itinerary of barbecues, a wedding she attended, and her shopping trip over in Michigan. She was amazed at the bargains that she got at the outlet mall and proceeded to tell us that she stopped at the duty free on her return to Canada and picked up some alcohol and tobacco products. And then she proceeded to brag that she had declared to customs in Canada that she had been gone 48 hours, not the six hours she was actually gone. Are you serious, I thought to myself.

And then last night I was sitting in my upstairs office with my windows open for the first time in weeks. The incessant heat wave we’ve been experiencing finally had a brief and temporary respite. I was alerted to a voice of a young male speaking in a very agitated and emotionally charged manner. When I looked out the window I spotted in front of my house a male in his late teens or early 20s. He was pacing up and down my sidewalk with a smart phone held against his right ear and, with his free arm flailing away in exaggerated motions, he appeared to be in the midst of a domestic argument with his significant other. In the next twenty minutes I found out more about their relationship and sex life and trust factors than most counselors discover after three or four sessions of counseling. There was nothing left to the imagination in this colorful, albeit, one-sided discussion of their life together. I attempted to get his attention in a subtle way by loudly clearing my throat – well maybe not all that subtle – all too little effect.

I really do miss the days of yesterday where people who needed to engage in telephone conversation with others in public would do so in the privacy of the telephone booth with a door that closed behind them to afford them personal privacy and to safeguard the rest of us from the drama of their lives. I challenge young enterprising app creators to come up with a virtual smart phone telephone booth that those who are ‘manners-challenged’ will be able to use in their smart phone conversations.

And the second pet peeve I wish to address also deals with social media and its sometimes negative effects in our society. More precisely, I am beyond irritated by the irresponsible and reckless use of social media by some who do not recognize the very real consequences of the words they post.

A number of months ago there was a Twitter chain and Facebook postings that viciously and falsely attacked the good name and character of one of Essex County’s top wineries. They were written by a couple of disgruntled patrons who were part of a bridal party trolley tour of some of the County wineries. Their posts which reflected their side of the story painted a picture of poor service, and confrontational employees at this establishment. One of the employees of the establishment later attempted to defend her place of employment and responded with a very inappropriate response to one of the patron’s postings. This employee, although seeking to defend her place of employment, was not an authorized spokesperson for the business. As a result, the employee was let go and an apology made by the business owner to the offended patron. Kudos to the management for taking such swift and decisive action in this matter.

But this last incident is separate from the irresponsible behavior exhibited by the patrons, largely due to some excessive drinking. I personally undertook an independent investigation of the facts represented by the patrons with respect to the poor service received at this winery. What my investigation and facts revealed was that the patron’s account was a total misrepresentation of what really transpired. Remember folks, we live in a world of video surveillance and video phones. The behavior of the inebriated patrons was so egregious that the management of the establishment had to telephone police authorities. Wineries, like other licensed establishments in Ontario, have responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their patrons under the regulations of The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The false allegations and one-side account presented by the patrons could have seriously damaged the good name and reputation of this family-owned business that has invested a significant amount of money, time and effort into making it a quality event location.

I responded to some of the posts on Facebook to quickly quench the inflammatory rhetoric these patrons had so recklessly engaged in. These people need to understand there are serious consequences to their words and allegations, not only for the reputation of the establishment they are attacking, but also for themselves in terms of potential civil liability for the indefensible words and characterizations they put in social media. In my response to their allegations I was able to attest to the good character of this establishment and its owners and their management team. And no less than 30 others responded to my post and commented about their positive experiences with this winery.

So folks, the bottom line is, be responsible and circumspect in what you decide to post on your Facebook and other social media. Your words have the capacity and the potential to destroy the reputation and good character of others. And, in doing so, they can take you down the very regrettable and expensive path of civil liability.

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Joe McParland
Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.