There are a lot of rules out there in the world: house rules, social rules, grammar rules, work rules. There are laws, regulations, decrees, and executive orders. And anyone who has gotten married or moved in with a roommate knows, there are some really quirky rules that you’ve never heard of before that now apply to your new living situation.
Good rules. Personally, I think there are some pretty good rules out there. They include…
- Don’t stick a knife in the toaster.
- Leave an empty stall (or urinal) between occupied ones in public restrooms.
- Speak to every dog you meet.
- Hold your breath when you drive past the cemetery.
- Don’t cut your own hair. (Which I actually did recently. I’d ask you not to tell my hairdresser, but honestly, it’s clearly evident and she’ll know I did it the moment I sit down in her chair.)
Rule followers. I find some people follow ‘the rules,’ whatever they are, and whatever the origin. These folks usually expect others to do the same. Other people think rules are put in place for others and enjoy the sport of policing and reporting. And then there are those who think all rules are optional – or as Barbossa explains in Pirates of the Caribbean about the pirate’s code, “it’s more what you’d call guidelines.”
Happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin, talks about the four tendencies as related to expectations, but I would say it also applies to how people view rules.
Policing and Reporting. I’ve been entertained this past week by a string of ongoing posts on my local community’s Facebook page. After months of complaints about the lack of police presence in our area, that situation has changed. And so has the dialog.
Comment 1: Watch out everyone. There’s a cop hiding near the corner of Green and Mosher Rd.
Comment 2: Not hiding. Watching for speeders. Slow down and you don’t have to worry.
Comment 3: Needs to make his quota for the month.
Comment 4: Thank goodness. I live on the corner and people fly by way too fast. He’s just doing his job.
And so it goes on and on and back and forth.
I also find new, evolving, and self-adapted rules interesting. These are separate, but related, rules and they are rampant in today’s current environment. Particularly fascinating to me is the idea of washing groceries. I’m not committing to whether I think this is or is not a good idea (or whether I have or haven’t washed a banana still in its peel) but a huge number of people are doing this. I’ve been following the CDC website pretty closely, and I pay attention to what Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Sanjay Gupta have to say. I haven’t heard any of the experts suggest I wash my groceries, leave them (or my mail) in the garage for three days, or wear a mask while I’m driving alone in my car. That said, I understand the better safe than sorry adage.
My niece recently reported that she observed a shopper remarking on the items in another shopper’s cart. Pointing to an impending purchase of salty snacks and chocolate chips the woman (apparently a member of the grocery police) stated loudly, “Those don’t look like essential groceries.” Really? Essential groceries? I must have missed the press conference announcing that executive order. And in any case, I have to believe what is deemed to be ‘essential’ is going to vary from consumer to consumer.
Make it up as you go. I’m also no stranger to oddball rules. One unnamed member of my family has a rule about not eating ice cream before 8:30 pm unless on vacation or celebrating a birthday. MOH and I were recently discussing the rule of no swimming for 30 minutes after eating. This was an excruciatingly painful rule for every kid in my neighborhood between Memorial Day and Labor Day. (Memorial Day to Labor Day was swimming season according to my mother. Another arbitrary rule.) In any case, as a kid I did not have access to Google so that I could start a no-win argument with my mother. However, I do now.
“It’s a lie!” I proclaimed to MOH. “The Mayo Clinic, dukehealth.org and Vox all say it’s a sham.”
My Google search included new-to-me information that suggests you should not take a bath or shower for 30 to 45 minutes after eating. Really. Look it up. Maybe somebody should make a rule.