Urban Diplomat Advice on how to be a civilized Torontonian
My wife and I went to the Jays game on Sunday, and the person in the seat beside us was very large. He bulged over the armrest and took up a significant section of my wife’s seat—she didn’t even have enough space to sit back. Needless to say, the game was pretty uncomfortable. We’re not confrontational people, and we didn’t want to embarrass the guy, but it didn’t feel right that we couldn’t enjoy the game because of our neighbour. Should we have said something? Don’t be daft. It’s not his fault the Rogers Centre seats aren’t large enough to accommodate him. Plus, confronting your neighbour wouldn’t have changed his size or given your wife any more room. It would have only mortified this already-cramped man, making the game even more unpleasant for all of you. Next time, ask an attendant—discreetly—if you can move to another pair of empty seats. And just pray you don’t end up next to a squad of beer can–hurling jocks instead.
Dear Urban Diplomat, I share a semi with a woman who is Halloween-obsessed. Every October, it looks like Walmart’s seasonal aisle threw up all over her side of the house. She often chides me for not putting up my own decorations (we don’t have kids and usually go out on Halloween). The other week—in September, no less— I came home to find cobwebs on my porch. A few days later, a little plastic skeleton showed up on my door. It irks me that she’s doing this without my permission, but my husband says it’s all in good fun and I should just let it go. Am I being unreasonable?
—The Ghoul Next Door, Etobicoke
’Tis the season for creepy surprises, but her behaviour crosses the line. You’re right, your husband is wrong, and your neighbour needs to give up the ghost. Return the decorations and
explain that you keep your side bare to avoid attracting candy-stalking kids to your empty house. Be polite but assertive: today’s unchecked skeleton could become tomorrow’s unsolicited flock of lawn flamingos.
Dear Urban Diplomat, On any given day, half the people walking downtown are texting, reading or watching videos on their phones. They weave erratically and frequently stop dead in their tracks. It’s not my responsibility to dodge these screenzombies, so I’ve started to refuse to get out of the way, forcing them to look up at the last minute. There’s been a shoulder bump or two, a lot of dazed apologies, and the odd person who tries to tear me a new one. Do they have a right to get mad at me?
—Walk Hard, Downtown
Look, I sympathize: we’ve all seen enough fail compilation videos to understand that texting while walking is a moronic thing to do. But body checking every screen fiend who crosses your path isn’t wise either. Your vigilante justice is more sanctimonious than effective: after a few seconds of shock, your victims are likely to feel the pull of their Instagram feeds, whip out their phones and resume their zombie walk anyway.
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