If there is a more pathetic figure in professional sports than Pete Rose, I don’t know who it is. He lives in Vegas and makes his living by selling his autograph to people who, for reasons only they know, will pay through the nose for the signature of the All-Time Hits Leader.
But Pete is sad. Because he gambled on baseball, despite the ironclad ban that has existed since Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was Commissioner, he has been banished from the game and can’t be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Now he laments that he was just cursed because gambling was his vice. He’d be better off, he says, if he’d been an alcoholic, a drug user, or a wife beater, because those vices can be forgiven.
Pete Rose says that he’s “messed up” and is “paying the consequences,” but his recent comments belie any true contrition. He lied about gambling for years and only admitted it to help sell his autobiography, and now he hopes to make people feel sorry for him. I don’t, and no one should.
Pete Rose violated the cardinal rule in baseball, and he got what he deserved. For a guy who played up his reputation as a tough, hard-nosed player, he’s really become a crybaby. It’s sad.
I’m guessing that the advent of the smartphone has created the most etiquette questions since the invention of the soup spoon and salad fork.
If you are in a social gathering, when is it appropriate to accept a call? If you are in a multi-person business meeting, is it proper to check your email or send a quick text? I’m not sure what the rules are anymore, and if there are rules they seem to be routinely ignored. Recently I was out at lunch and saw four women at the next table over, all silently texting to other people as they sat together over coffee. They looked happy enough, but . . . really?
It’s a social issue caused by technological innovation. During the land-line days of yore, people didn’t have to worry about a phone in their pocket ringing during lunch. When written communications were limited to letters, you couldn’t just touch an icon on an ever-present electronic device to catch up on your friends’ latest ruminations.
Etiquette is all about establishing rules so that people are comfortable, and not offended, in everyday settings — so I think of how I feel, for example, when I am in a store waiting to check out and the clerk takes a phone call rather than completing my transaction. I’m there, I’m ready to buy, and I get treated like second-hand news in favor of an unknown phone call? It’s not a happy feeling that’s likely to make me want to go back to that place. My baseline rule, therefore, is to try to give undivided attention to the people I’m with, no matter how many beeps and bloops my phone might make while we’re together. I figure there is plenty of time to check on emails, texts, and updates when the gathering ends. And if I’m expecting an important call that I can’t miss, I try to explain that possibility up front, so the people I’m with don’t think they are playing second fiddle to any random caller.
Cell phones are handy, but they can be a recipe for rudeness if we’re not careful.