The Advice Goddess rages at the rude
I See Rude People: One womans battle to beat some manners into impolite
By Amy Alkon
McGraw Hill, $16.95
By Erin Crowell
Amy Alkon, humorist and nationally syndicated columnist of The Advice
Goddess, has taken her bold opinions of society and had them print, set
and bound into her newest book, I See Rude People: One womans battle to
beat some manners into impolite society.
Her weekly advice column has caused a bit of a stir since appearing in
over 100 publications like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal,
with the Northern Express being one of the first newspapers to carry it as
far back as 1994 (sixth, to be accurate). Readers, including our own, have
accused Alkon of being brash, biased, and sometimes, just a plain bitch.
But she is also one of the best-loved writers in the Express and many
readers report that shes the first page they turn to when the paper comes
out each week.
I See Rude People doesnt stray far from Alkons classic I dont care
what you think attitude actually, the only thing Alkon does care about
in this book is the common disregard for others in our society.
The back cover reads: Alkon gives you the tools you need to confront
these abusers and restore common courtesy, respect, and good manners in
society One chastened cellphone shouter at a time.
The book is funny and thoroughly researched, complete with scientific
social experiments and all the archeological dirt on homo sapiens. From
the survival of the fittest, to the need of cohabitation within a small
Alkon writes, Our brains are programmed to respond to 21st century
problems using the adaptations that best solved prehistoric
hunter-gatherer mating and survival issues.
So, despite all of todays flashy gizmos, our brains are still working on
an effective, yet very outdated network. Alkon argues that we have simply
used technology as an excuse, another vehicle for being rude: The
businessman who just has to take that cell phone call at lunch.
Its an example of rudeness that happens everyday. The thing is, many of
us quietly brush it aside like a loose hair.
Alkon writes, Whats weird to me is how many people always suffer in
silence, even if its just a 13-year-old mall brat like, yeah, ya
know-ing so loud in line behind them that its impossible to hear the
counter guy trying to take their lunch order.
Alkon suggests it also doesnt mean you cant use those gizmos to your
advantage. Like taking photos of an offender and posting it via
blogosphere -- a public humiliation. The kind of stuff that kept our
ancestors from stirring up the tribal pot. Many watchful eyes meant you
were out of the village (and likely to die) when committing a social faux
Our village has gotten too large, and Amy Alkon believes its time to make
Peeved off about that guy who cut you off in traffic? Tweet about it.
The more people who understand unaccepted social behaviors, the less
likely they are to commit the same travesty.
So is this book a get back-at-em guidebook for self-empowerment? Hardly.
Its about checks and balances. Knowing how to deal with jerks without
being one yourself. Of course, sometimes it means fighting fire with fire,
a method Alkon relishes, even excels at.
Heres one example from her book:
The lady made five very loud callseach the same as the lastgiving her
name (Carol), detailed directions to a kids birthday party at her house,
plus the time, plus her home phone number I left this message on her
voice mail when I got home: Carol, Carol, Carol the microphone on a cell
phone is actually quite sensitive. Theres no need to yell. You probably
didnt realize that your repeated shouting into your cell phone drove a
number of people out of the coffee bar today. Beyond that, you might
consider that I know that you live at 555 Ferngrove Street and that
youre having a bunch of six-year-olds over at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Just a
little something to think about Bye!
Alkon dedicates a couple of paragraphs to admitting she has occasionally
overstepped her bounds, her dislike of telemarketers is obvious: Im
hotheaded, and I have been known to scream at telemarketers and/or to ask
them if they have a suspicious vaginal odoreven if they happen to be
Although this kind of behavior might offend some, others will get a laugh,
and perhaps a newfound confidence in standing up to all the line cutters
and parking space hogs of the world.
Just keep your superhero ego in-check. Theres no need for a bloody nose
and minor concussion.
Dont miss our interview with Amy Alkon in the February 8 issue of the
Northern Express, discussing everything from bad manners to her appearance
at the City Opera House in Traverse City, on Feb. 11. Alkon is one of
several speakers at this years National Writers Series.
Got a problem or question? Email them to Amy Alkon at AdviceAmy@aol.com or
visit her website: www.advicegoddess.com.