Six Behaviors That Drive Me Nuts

Liar Game
I think I'd rather not play this one, thanks!Image via Wikipedia

Yes, I’m probably guilty of them as well, and another dozen even worse.

But, I’m done!

In the past month, I’ve been pelted with bad behavior from all directions.


Failure to communicate

This tops my list. I grew up in a family of professional communicators — writers and film-makers and TV folk — who rarely-to-never told me much I needed to know. Like, how to drive or balance a checkbook or the fact our house had been sold and I had to move out within weeks, during college mid-term exams.

So this pattern of behavior, which also seems specifically and annoyingly Canadian, makes me crazy. I can’t get on with my life and make decisions, from when to book a flight to how much to budget this month, without data. It makes me feel powerless and that’s not a happy place.

When I ask someone for help, advice, an answer, a recommendation, a reference, a contact — anything! –– do me the basic courtesy of giving me an answer. Before the next milennium.

The reply might be: “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to” or “I can’t.”

Or “I’m just too busy right now” or “I don’t have the answers yet.”

But pick up that phone and send that email. Don’t leave someone just hanging who clearly needs to know something, sooner rather than later.

If you’re ambivalent, make a decision. If you’re terrified of confrontation, do it by email. But do it.


I was only slapped twice in my life by my parents, once by my Dad and once by my Mom, both times because I lied. I still remember each incident vividly and it made abundantly clear to me that lying is not an option.

Telling someone something you know for certain is not true can set into motion, as it often does and is intended to, an entire domino chain of consequences, most of which  — you know — will be lousy for that person. Don’t do it.


Ditto. I’m a straightforward person. I can only run my life efficiently, safely and happily if I know what’s really going on, not some wallpapered version you’re feeding me. Deception really means you’re happy manipulating me to your own ends. You’re really OK with that?


Ugh. I live in a northern suburb of New York City, where entitlement is like oxygen — everywhere, invisible and taken utterly for granted. Size 00 women drive $80,000 cars, live in 10,000 square foot mansions paid for by largely invisible husbands working 100-hour weeks. Yet their hyper-tutored SAT-prepped children are often such little social savages my gynecologist had to draw up a two-page single-space contract (!) explaining how they must behave in her office.

In my retail job, the subject of my forthcoming book, “Malled” My Unintentional Career in Retail” I discuss the egregious attitudes of the hedge fund crowd who shopped in our store. We, as low-wage, low-level associates, were nothing more than that hour’s peon to them. In an era of growing, stunning income inequality, this gets old.

Just because you have a lot of money, right now, doesn’t mean you’re smarter/better/kinder/wiser than anyone else on this planet. It just means you have more money. Get over yourself.

Faux urgency

I recently re-connected, after a decade’s silence, with someone who had once been a fairly close friend. The next day, she asked for a favor on behalf of a friend of hers. Then asked again. You know, if I’ve been that invisible and unimportant to your life for ten years, it can wait.

Whatever feels reallyreallyreally urgent to us may barely register on someone else’s radar. I was shocked into this a few days ago when I called a dear friend, who’d been uncommunicative in response to a request, and discovered that his father had suddenly fallen ill and died.

When people don’t respond at once, (if they are typically courteous enough to communicate with you), there’s probably a really good reason. Their urgency outweighs yours.


Not acceptable. Ever.

This is, no doubt, due to my own upbringing in a WASP, Canadian family.

Feelings? Outwardly expressed?

I think not!


But seriously, there are very few situations that really allow room for wailing, weeping, the gnashing of teeth and the (public at least) rending of garments. Your inability to find a parking space or get a pedicure appointment or gaining 3.5 pounds are not in this category.

Hold it together — using whatever means necessary (yoga, prayer, Xanax, martinis) — and your calm, grace and class will always elicit much more help, kindness and action from others around you than hand-flapping and hysteria.

Everyone’s got something crappy happening in their life, too. It might be whole lot worse than yours, but they’re not whining about it.

Do tell….

What are some of the behaviors around you these days driving you mad?

12 thoughts on “Six Behaviors That Drive Me Nuts

  1. Currently dealing with draaaamaaa! And my most hated quality…. lack of respect for other people’s reality. Mutual respect should just be a required course taught in school. But I guess that goes right along with your Entitlement quality.
    ” Just because you have a lot of money, right now, doesn’t mean you’re smarter/better/kinder/wiser than anyone else on this planet. It just means you have more money. Get over yourself.”
    hahahah. Love it. And sometimes people act this way even without the money aspect. That will be my mantra to them. Get over yourself.

  2. Erica, drama is one of my most loathed…When people whip it up, we’re all expected to participate and when we don’t, it escalates. Mutual respect would be lovely.

    I am grateful for good friends who don’t do any of these things, so their kindness and humor act as counter-balances. But still.

  3. You may want to add “overly-sensitive” people to your list, but I have lived an international life for thirty years and the qualities you ascribe to being “annoyingly Canadian” like failure to communicate and draaaaaaaama, can be found everywhere from Santiago to Shanghai. Otherwise, love the part about entitlement. But that too is, sadly, universal.

    1. The only really Canadian quality on this list, I think — and my American/Southern assistant got so fed up she almost quit in disgust within weeks — is failure to communicate and we both know why — fear of confrontation! OMG.

      I’m sure every bit of this are found worldwide. But some cultures do reward a stiff(er) upper lip while others…ahem….vocalize.

  4. BP Quadius

    Entitlement is probably the worst of your list. I still remember one of my neighbors in my old neighborhood talking to the neighbor across the street about her fear that some people won’t be able to take care of their houses effectively because they paid too much for them. “They may not be able to paint them when it’s needed.”

    “Well,” the other neighbor responded, “we don’t all have parents who have the ability to pay off our entire mortgage without expecting something in return.”

    Some people just don’t get it. Many of us have chosen our careers because we liked them, not because they made a tremendous amount of money. I would use the example of teachers, but right now everyone seems to be convinced that they’re making a boatload of cash and living high on the hog.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Living in North Jersey I feel that most people tend to display most of these behaviors, unfortunately.

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