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The Times
  • Frank Mulligan: Ranks for everything

  • Today, we’ve become a society obsessed by ranking every single occurrence, from the obscure to the momentous. And in harmony with this trend is the ubiquity of polls on virtually every conceivable topic.


     

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  • Today, we’ve become a society obsessed by ranking every single occurrence, from the obscure to the momentous. And in harmony with this trend is the ubiquity of polls on virtually every conceivable topic.
    So, in an effort to conform, I offer the following hybrid in column form where you, the person reading this column (how are you, by the way), are asked to rank the following individuals encountered in a daily life perhaps not unlike your own by their rudeness level.
    There will be three examples, and you, the person reading this column (unless you’ve already moved on due to the meandering preamble), will be asked to gauge them from one to three, with one being rudest, second being next most rude, and third being the least rude.
    You are asked to put yourself in the role of rudee in each snippet, and judge for yourself which of the rudors is the more obnoxious.
    Good luck.
    · A man stands in the supermarket aisle, contemplating various brands of fruit roll ups. He’s buying fruit roll ups as a gift so he wants to make sure he purchases as fine a fruit-roll-up product as possible. This entails studying the packaging to determine not only the different flavors offered, but whether natural ingredients are employed, if the product contains sugar, or, saints preserve us, high fructose corn syrup. A woman comes ambling up the aisle behind the contemplative man and says, in tones of imperial indignation, “I’m trying to get by here,” her point being that the man lost in fruit-roll-up reverie is blocking her path. This is not true, however. The man does not have a cart. There is plenty of room for the woman to pass.
    · A man enters a neighborhood convenience store. He’s still looking for fruit roll ups to give as a gift. He peruses the rather ample display of various brands on the wall. He’s impressed. He selects a brand that purports to be made from real fruit juice. He pays the young lady behind the counter, while humming the Carpenters’ “Top of the World.” He moves toward the door to make his exit. He pushes open the door and reenters the outside world, but before releasing the door, he notices another man approaching. The humming man holds the door open for the second man. Rather than the “thanks,” the humming, door-holding man expects, the second man instead responds with a look of sullen hostility.
    · A man is driving to leave fruit roll ups on a colleague’s desk as a gift. He’s driving 40 mph on a road where the speed limit is clearly marked by obvious signage to be 35 mph. Though the man is exceeding the posted speed limit by 5 mph in violation of state law, this is not enough for the impatient man driving behind him. The two-lane, north-south highway is also dotted with signs prohibiting passing. The impatient driver waits for the first opportunity for traffic to clear in the opposite lane and roars past the first driver, exceeding the posted speed limit by 40 mph. He rounds a curve and disappears from sight. Moments later, however, the driver bearing the fruit roll ups pulls in behind the impatient driver, whose quest to break the sound barrier has been interrupted by a red light.
    Page 2 of 2 - And that’s it.
    Now it’s up to you, the person reading this column (if you were polite enough to stick around), to rank the rude.
    Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.
     
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