JAN On the BBC yesterday morning, I heard that the city of Guanzghou, one of the largest and most prosperous of Chinese cities, is developing a new penalty system for icky behavior.
Icky is not the term they use. They call it anti-social behavior, but compared to American anti-social behavior, like Bernie Madoff bilking billions from investors and charitable institutions, I'd say its really more along the lines of just icky.
We're talking about spitting,which is apparently a big problem in China. Urinating in public. Drying your laundry on a fence, and littering and throwing trash out the balcony.
Accrue enough penalty points, which could simply be one incident of each, and you get thrown out of your public housing. (remember this is China we are talking about. Public housing applies to most people.)
Of course, here in the land of the free, you can't impose these kind of regulations, but wouldn't you love to??
I, for one, would love to see anyone caught more than three times using their cell phone while driving,lose his or her car for at least twelve months. Get caught texting ONCE and you not only lose the car, you never, ever get it back.
Rude to a waiter or waitress? You lose your right to go out to dinner with your friends, who have been embarrassed for years by your behavior.
Men who leave the toilet seat up have to pee sitting down like a girl for at least six months. Okay, that one might be a bit harsh, especially from someone who grew up with all brothers and didn't even know they were SUPPOSED to put it down until she was in her thirties. But this is fantasy we're talking about.
I've just handed you an imaginary minit-dictatorship to stamp out any behavior you find detrimental to society, or just slightly irritating to you, personally. Tell us, what is it?? And what's the punishment??
HALLIE: China is SO CROWDED I can completely understand the need for rules like that. The thing that makes me so crazy (is this just Boston drivers?) is drivers who use the far right lane as a passing lane. Everyone is going 60 or 70 and these cowboys come zipping up the right lane doing 85 or 90.
Incidentally, they do this in China, too, and it's terrifying. Punishment: a bullet between the eyes, so appropriate for cowboys. Or maybe a good helping of mud in their gas tank.
HANK: Having more that 10 items in the 10 or fewer express checkout. Jaywalking, slowly, without acknowledging that you're doing something selfish. Ordering a HUGE list of complicated stuff at the coffee place. (And the toilet thing. Hey. JUST LOOK and see if you've left anything behind. I mean--I can't stand it.) Doctors who keep you waiting as if their time is more important than yours. Credit card companies who shorten the billing cycle so you can't possibly pay on time unless you send the check instantly and who does that.
Punishment? Ah. Eating not-done pasta. Drinking flat diet coke. Getting aged tuna salad in your sandwich. Being next in line when the person in front of you gets the last one, whatever it is.
JAN - I can't believe I left out those right lane passers -- they make me crazy on Route 128. And I once wrote a column about doctors who keep you waiting. I was lucky that my doctor at the time wound up reading the column and was appropriately sheepish.
Okay, here's your chance to make the rules; Tell us what you'd do: