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Miss Conduct's Annual Festivus Airing of Grievances (and today's column)

Posted by Robin Abrahams  December 23, 2012 05:05 AM

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It's that time of year again: Festivus!

And Miss Conduct's Annual Airing of Grievances is back.

In today's column, I wrote:

Calling out the good behavior of others is something we should do more often. I'm making it a resolution for 2013 not only to do more courtesies to others, but to pay more attention to the courtesies done to me. It's easy to notice rude people, because rudeness or cluelessness rips the social fabric. Noticing courtesy takes a sharper eye and a softer heart.
But just as January's regimen of cleansing juices and elliptical sessions will feel all the more joyously penitential if we've indulged in a bit of Decadent Christmas first, so too will this resolution have all the more impact if we let ourselves revel in the opposite.

That's my theory, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

So what are the social Grievances you'd like to Air this year? My first and greatest Grievance, ever since moving to Boston, is this:

People standing in stupid places. Look, I know that subway systems are difficult and counterintuitive. But please, tourists and newcomers, don't get off the subway and then stand right there in front of the door while you figure it out. Move to the side, okay? People have a trajectory of motion going on. This also applies to people who stand in the middle of the grocery aisle, with cart, consulting their lists and who have animated conversations in front of the bar at parties or in front of the sinks in the public bathroom. And many more. Bottom line: if you're going to just stand somewhere, consulting a map or your old college roommate whom you haven't seen since the early 90's or the still small voice within you, move to the side. Are you standing in the path of motion? Are you standing between people and their objects of desire? Then respect the trajectory of others and move.

This delightful New York Times article about manners policing ought to give you even more inspiration for your Festivus rants. The author, I'm happy to say, shares my intensity about open access:

My jurisdiction is the doorways of public spaces. Why do people congregate there? In the presence of these clogged arteries, I become Lipitor Man. I have made strange beeping noises. I have robotically bleated: "Doorway! Doorway!" Once, after I had cleared two chatty bystanders from a tobacco shop entrance, one asked me, "Is this a feng shui thing?" I responded, "No, I'm just very, very passionate about egress."

Are your own Grievances beginning to fester along nicely? Good! Share them in comments.

I'll choose the authors of five well-honed Grievances to receive a signed copy of my book, Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Disgruntled winners will be announced Wednesday, December 26 at 9am.

Airing Grievances is all about outrage, invective, and entitlement. That's what makes Festivus so special. It's not about bigotry, though. So you are free to Grieve about any behavior that you want, but Grievances about particular groups of people will get reported. Got it? Behavior, not group identity. And keep it light-hearted. 

On Nagger! On Whiner!
On Moaner and Kvetcher!
On Carper! On Downer!
On Loner and Bitcher!
From the top of your spleen, yell a hearty "Oy Vey!"
Now Festivus, Festivus, fester away!

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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