The Kid Table

Can we talk about something really important for a minute?


This post was directly inspired by a post from another blog on manners that I read recently about people who stand to close.  It got me thinking about one of my biggest pet peeves.

On Tuesday mornings I take the 6:27 am train into the city from Long Island to get to work by 8.  Every morning, but especially the really early trains, are always packed with other commuters trying to get an early start at work.  Needless to say, it’s a struggle to get a seat on the train, and any commuter knows that sometimes you end up sitting next to some, well, interesting characters.  If you want a pleasant ride to work, it is vital to choose a seat next to someone who is like-minded.  When I’m picking my seat, I try my best to find someone who looks like they want the same kind of ride to work that I do, which is a quiet interlude before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.  Usually I look for someone with a newspaper and coffee in hand, because that typically means they just want to drink their coffee, read their paper, and not be bothered otherwise.  But I’ve been wrong.  Oh, I’ve been so wrong before, and made decisions that have ended with me practically banging my head against the window at some people’s bad manners.

On these rides, I’ve encountered a wide range of bad manners, so much so that I could probably write a book on train etiquette.  I’ve experienced such things as, two women sitting next to one another yapping loudly on an otherwise quiet/serene train about their menstrual cycles, clipping fingernails, painting fingernails, someone humming to music on their iPod for the full hour ride, people putting coats/and or bags down on the seat beside them so that some other poor unfortunate soul can’t get a seat and has to stand the whole time, smoking in the bathroom, and much more.

Perhaps the worst, and the absolutely most egregious of them all, was the man who sat beside me one Tuesday.  He seemed nice enough as he sat down next to me with his newspaper tucked under one arm, and a white paper bad under the other.  He was middle-aged, bald, and married (I could tell because he had a ring on his finger).  I was watching a movie for my film class on my Kindle with head phones in, and when he asked to sit down, I scooted over as much as I could to give him room.  I was right in the middle of watching a Danish film with subtitles, when he broke open his white paper bag,  unveiling two bagels with cream cheese that were wrapped in thin paper.  He wasted no time unwrapping the first and digging in.  There I sat, minding my own business watching my movie, and sipping on my coffee that I brought in my travel mug.  I was trying to pay attention to the subtleties of the film, like lighting and camera angles, hidden meanings in dialogue so that could write my six page paper later on that night, when I began to hear loud, churning mouthfuls of the man eating his bagel.  I paused my movie for a second, and hoped that the resounding smacking of food churning around in his mouth would soon subside.  Instead, it went on and on and on and on.  Each time he took a bite, he smacked his mouth open and closed, so that I could hear the very moment his bite of bagel and cream cheese began to mix with his saliva.  I sat there in disbelief that a grown human being was eating this way.  As he continued to chew with his mouth wide open, I noticed other people turning around to see who was eating like this, too.

I pressed play on my movie, turned the volume all the way up, and tried to block out the incessant sound of the food swirling together next to me.  It didn’t work, though, the acoustics of his chewing sounded as if they were coming out of a loud-speaker.  “Smack.  Smack. Smack,” his chomping went on.  I racked my brain trying to come up with a way to politely tell him to eat quieter, but how do you tell a grown man that?  Well, you don’t, because if he hasn’t already learned that its impolite to eat this way at forty something years old, than I doubt he is going to listen to me.  He probably wouldn’t even know what I was talking about anyway.  It was obvious that no one had ever drawn it to his attention before, or maybe that had, but he just didn’t care.  He had to have noticed the multiple people around him giving him dirty looks, but it didn’t matter, because he was going to swish the food in his mouth like a whirlpool whether it bothered everyone else around him or not.  Sitting next to this guy was like sitting next to a two-year old at the kid table.

When he finally finished the last bite of his bagel, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I began to watch my movie again, but just as I started to get into it again, there was the smacking again.  However, this time he was chewing gum.  I saw him put piece after piece of gum in his mouth, and to be honest, I’m not even sure how he managed to fit nearly an entire pack of gum in there, but he did.  There he sat, snapping away at his gum.  Luckily, the train ride was nearly over at that point, and I resolved to shutting my Kindle and giving up on the movie.  When we got to Penn station, I got off the train, and figured (and hoped) I’d never see this guy again.

But I did end up seeing him again.  The next time I saw him, he was standing on the train platform, newspaper under one arm, and a white paper bag under the other.  I watched as he stepped onto the packed train, making his way to an open seat.  I heard him say, “Can I sit down here?” To an unsuspecting woman in her mid-thirties.  A few people who seemed to be acquainted with his eating antics actually got up and moved as if they were migrating to the imaginary good habits section of the train.

You'd think he'd take a hint...

I never saw the woman once the train ride was over, but I still see the man with bad manners every now and then.  Each time I see him, a quote I once heard replays over and over in my head.

“Good manners sometimes means putting up with other people’s bad manners.”

And sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

Tell me, what are the bad manners that you can’t stand?

Photos by pinterest.

37 thoughts on “The Kid Table

  1. Today it seems like everyone is hooked into their cell phones, but I can’t stand when I visit a friend and they can’t get off their damn phone. Bad manners—ignoring the person that is present to text others. ;( Get off your phone and enjoy the people that are around you!

    Great post…I used to ride Los Angeles city bus to work and people eating loudly is annoying. I get self conscious when eating crunchy food at the movies. I feel like the whole theatre could hear every bite.

  2. The last few days I keep running into people who can’t say thank you or even acknowledge you when you hold the door for them. It’s been driving me nuts for some reason. 😀

  3. None of the kids and many of the adults in my town never say please or thank you these days!

    Manners seem to have passed away like so much in life and BOY can you tell!!! 😦

    Love and hugs!


  4. Like the first commenter mentioned, I hate it when people can’t get off their phones or are overly hooked onto their FB accounts, that is, when friends/acquaintances are around. I hate that! Apart from that, I can’t stand people who munch their food loudly or slurp their tea (or whatever drink they’re having) loudly, making that irritating noise. And (don’t know if this will end anytime soon), I hate it when people point out some bad habit of yours in public. Even if I’m not the victim! 🙂

  5. So crazy!!! One of my very biggest pet peeves is when people eat on the train! Once someone was eating sticky-wet ribs on the A train and licking their fingers with delight. I’m seriously scowling as I type this. It grosses me out so much!

  6. I can’t stand “loud eaters” or “loud, mouth-breathers”… My dad is the former, an uncle the latter. Somehow my dad can make Jell-o a noisy food. My uncle, bless his heart, I’m sure has a nasal issue, but sitting down to holiday dinners next to him caused me to exercise incredible amounts of patience as I refrained from crying out, “Stop BREATHING!” Sometimes good manners DOES mean putting up with bad ones.

  7. I am so glad you brought up this topic. I have, for so long, wanted to start a blog where I can just rant about the idiotic things I come across when commuting or otherwise witness in New York City. You already mentioned some of the things that drive me nuts. The listening to music so loud that I can hear it across the train thing can really aggravate me sometimes. Headphones were invented for a reason!! They are there for you and only you to hear the music playing on your ipod or w.e. If I wanted to listen to music, I would put on my own headphones and listen to my OWN music.
    The clipping of the nails drives me up the wall. Since when is it ok to perform such a personal hygienic thing in public. Do people not have five spare minutes at home to accomplish this task? It is disgusting and disturbing.
    Finally, (although there are many more, I will end it at this) the personal space issue. Ok, if the train is overly crowded it’s understandable. Also, I fully understand that personal space standards are different in different culture..but in America I don’t need to become that personally acquainted with strangers. If I’m paying at the register I don’t need you standing close enough to count the money in my wallet. This closeness becomes a bigger issue in the summer months where other personal hygienic standards become even looser.

    • Oh, the old personal space issue. I hate when people stand too close! It’s like, “Back it on up there, killer.”

  8. ugh… the loud eating thing grosses me out. My cubicle-wall sharer does that, and I have noise-cancelling headphones for those times, because the guy makes my stomach turn. That, and flossing in public. Seriously, this is a thing to do in a bathroom, not at your cubicle (i have serious issues with this guy, if you haven’t guessed, lol) at ridiculous volumes. I’ve never heard someone floss that loudly…

  9. As much as I can’t stand people talking on cell phones, I believe firmly that there is a special place in hell for the people who use their Bluetooth earpiece to talk “out” into the world while on a call. Not only do I think, at first, that they are talking to ME about mergers and acquisitions, but they are almost always louder than your average cell talker, having eliminated the need to actually point their voice into a specific spot on their phone.

    • I have also got confused when people talk out loud with their ear piece in. I’ve been like, “Huh? Me? Wait, are you talking to ME??? Oh, no. Okay.” It’s so awkward!!

      • On the flip side, I have a horrible habit of eavesdropping on conversations at other tables, when we are out. Scott is SO embarrassed when I start chuckling and smiling at the people at another table, like I’m part of their conversation. He says it’s CREEPY! 😉

  10. I’m also commuting to college everyday and there are countless of annoying people I’ve met I don’t even know where to start. Yeah, I hate loud eaters, too…. I hate when people talk on their phone so loud that everyone on the bus can hear it, it’s like Ron Weasley using telephone for the first time. And ugh, yes, personal space. Apparently some people feel extremely comfortable to be too close to someone else (read: me) when I feel the otherwise.

    • There was a girl on one of my recent train rides talking about many intimate things between she and her boyfriend. It was so disturbing!!

  11. My mother-in-law eats like that and it drives me crazy! Talks with a big mouthful too. I don’t want my five-year old picking up those habits, so I make a point of telling him to not talk with his mouth full when she is here (even though he never does it) hoping she will get the hint!

    So glad I live somewhere that we drive to work and don’t have to deal with public transportation!

  12. Augh!!!!! Noisy eaters are the worst! The WORST of the worst! One of my best friends is a noisy eater and one time I couldn’t take it anymore and told her. It stopped her for that meal. It has since resumed. My mom is the same!! It makes my skin crawl.
    I love that quote at the end, I’ve never heard it. Thank you!

    • First of all, hats off to you for actually telling your friend!! I think it’s good to sometimes tell people. I think some people have no idea how loud they eat, and if they’re eating embarrassingly, they should at least have the chance to correct it if they want!

  13. I have a hard time around close talkers, especially if they have horrible breath to boot too. Also, please hold a door for the person behind you it takes seconds. I am a magnet for people climbing on my back while waiting in line – why oh why me! Loving your post – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Day:)

    • Oh, the close talkers….what is up with that? How can you not understand you’re just standing way too close???

  14. So many pet peeves regarding bad manners, but getting in my personal space while you are talking on your mobile or having a loud conversation with a friend is probably the most annoying experience. I really don’t want to hear your conversation and could you please take one or two steps back so I can’t feel your hot breath on my neck!

    I’m glad this man is easy to spot and therefore avoid, what a gross, revolting and bad mannered creature he is.

    • I also cannot stand people invading my personal space. That’s another one of mine. Also, people who take a seat next to you and take up significantly more room than you, and don’t even care!

  15. Oh. My. God. Open-mouthed chewing is probably the absolute biggest pet peeve ever to me. It’s the most efficient shortcut to making me lose my temper–and I happen to have a long fuse. I wasn’t even there and just reading it made me want to introduce his fat inconsiderate head to my fists. (Especially since you could hear it *through your headphones*! Eeiiiiiish!!!)

  16. I 100% agree. Nothing infuriates me more than someone eating/chewing with their mouth open. It literally makes me insane. i cannot understand how people can be so clueless and so disgusting. it is something you learn as a young child. it’s simple. i don’t understand how some people just don’t get it! WHY would we want to hear ANYONE eating their food?!?! it makes me sick to my stomach listening to it. people have to know that they are doing it which makes it worse. it is my #1 pet peeve. it makes me nuts. as you can see 🙂

  17. Your post brought back memories of riding the commuter trains into New York, I loved the quiet car and hated the cell phone users in the morning. It was always so amazing to me that someone could be so wrapped up in their conversation that they didn’t realize their voice echoed through an entire car full of people glaring at them for disturbing the peace.

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