A comedy gag that I remember clearly and often is a simple knock-knock joke. It goes like this:

Who’s there?

Before the knock-knocker has a chance to finish, the respondent stops him with, “Interrupting person (or man or woman or child).”

The joke relies on people interrupting each other. Because this is a habit that I try desperately to avoid and dislike in others, the joke always rings a bell with me.

Several days ago, I (thoroughly) wasted some time watching daytime television. It was one of those predictable dramas replete with accusations, paternity tests and endless shrieking. One of the key realities is that everyone was loudly interrupting everyone else.

My interpretation of this unfortunate tendency is the message, “What I want to say is so important that I can’t or won’t wait until you’re finished speaking.” But I am fully willing to believe that there are other reasonable explanations for this heinous human habit.

Maybe it’s a function of, “I just thought of something phenomenally relevant that I need to share before I lose it.” Or, “What’s the importance of a convention such as waiting for another person to stop? We don’t bow or curtsy in many societies either.” Yet another explanation and one that I hear often is, “It’s called conversation. That’s how people communicate.” Hmmm.

This is another of those issues to which I won’t surrender. How many courtesy conventions do we casually delete before we’re back to dragging each other around by the hair and beating people with clubs? Yes, I know that I exaggerate.

But when will the germophobes talk us into eliminating handshakes? Opening a car door for a lady is rarely seen. And it’s scary to observe the disrespect by many younger people to parents and others. I’ll just keep banging my drum, try not to interrupt others and hope that it’s contagious. Shalom.

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