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Gum smackers, rude clerks & dogs in stores
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There are pet peeves and then there is absolute rudeness.

I'm sure that I get on people's nerves from time-to-time. Everyone does.

But I don't understand how we've tolerated a complete breakdown in social interaction during the past 30 years.

I'm not talking about casual dress - though some of what passes for causal now would have got you thrown in jail in 1965 for public indecency - nor am I referring to the death of genteel manners such as addressing strangers as "sir" and "ma'am."

I'm referring to unadulterated rudeness that places the individual at the center of all and if anyone else doesn't like it that's just too darn bad.

Near the top of the list is the assumption people have they can take their dogs anywhere - inside fast food restaurants to home improvement warehouses.

Owners are taking 90-pound German Shepherds and 60-pound mixed mutts into places such as convenience stores as if it is perfectly okay just because they're on a leash.

I know. I know. They're just like one of the family.

I'll never forget the look of terror on a pre-teen girl's face when she rounded the corner in Home Depot and there was a Rottweiler with his owners.

The owners looked a bit annoyed and simply offered the advice, "don't worry, she doesn't bite."

News flash. Dogs - unless they are accompanying someone who is blind or has a medical problem and is trained to react - have no business strolling with you down Home Depot aisles or any other store for that matter.

I don't think its cute at all when your dog nuzzles my leg as I'm looking at items on a shelf. I'm sure the dog owner would be thrilled to have someone they don't know paw them while they're shopping - human or animal. It is rude, period.

Moving right along down my "A" list of rude things done in public is the smacking of gum. There are various degrees of rudeness. A clerk should be fired for such behavior. But my real favorites are the ones that have you captive in a crowded restaurant and are sitting in the booth behind you doing more smacking in a minute than in an entire hour of WWF wrestling.

It is just as bad as those who don't realize that cell phones have volume control. It's just wonderful when everyone around you in a restaurant is talking in a normal tone and someone gets a cell call. Either only deaf people call cell phone users in restaurants or else those taking such calls wants everyone within 12 tables to hear the latest gossip.

Frankly, I don't care which one of your co-workers is dating "that horrible man" or what your weekend plans are. I don't want to be forced to hear it because you feel you have to virtually shout into your cell phone.

Also I don't have much tolerance for clerks who seem to think that it is more important to take a phone call than to wait on you.

Macy's in Stockton has the utmost professional staff. They let the phone ring until they are through taking care of their customers. Or if they do answer it, they tell the caller it will be a few minutes and put them on hold until they finish on their customer.

This could be because most of Macy's clerks in Stockton appear to have known a time before Brittany Spears.

Hello, I'm the customer. It's nice that you're chatting with your co-worker about last weekend while I'm standing there asking for your help and then tell me "one minute." It is equally frustrating when you stop in the middle of a transaction to take a phone call and then go off to find an item for the caller. You're telling me that I shouldn't shop in your store because I won't even get your undivided attention when I'm trying to pay you.

But the one absolutely cardinal sin that I have no tolerance for are folks who let their young kids scream non-stop in a store and act like nothing is happening. I'm not talking about a kid who is crying a bit. This is uninterrupted screaming for minutes.

Do everyone a favor. Take the kid out of the store until they calm down. Being a parent is tough but you're dead wrong to think it is OK to discipline your kid by ignoring him in a store while he's screaming louder than Van Halen.

And don't give me any garbage about Child Protection Services and the law being different than when I was growing up. No one is asking you to beat the kid. Just take him out of the store until he quiets down.