Ur­ban Di­plo­mat Ad­vice on how to be a civ­i­lized Toron­to­nian

Toronto Life - - News - —Chubby Checker, Sum­mer­hill

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.

Send your ques­tions to the Ur­ban Di­plo­mat at ur­bandiplo­mat@toron­to­life.com

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