Right about now, Enterprise staffers are compiling their annual “Welcome to Davis” special to greet all those UC Davis students that will swoop into town like swallows to Capistrano, flocking and fluttering in gigantic clusters, which is ever so charming unless you live under their nest.
“Welcome to Davis” is a sunny celebration of the intrinsic wonderfulness of Davis, with an occasional nod to those “other” towns beyond the safety of the bubble. Blindness to most things beyond Davis notwithstanding, The Enterprise staff always creates a sweet, cuddly gift to actual Davis residents; an annual validation that, yes, Davis is entirely more special than anywhere else on Earth, as opposed to a useful tool that a student would actually pick up and read.
Newsprint? Ewww. #whatgrandmareads
That said, I feel nonetheless compelled to outline my own “Welcome” advice for students venturing into the adult world for the first time.
Students, here’s the thing: There are lots of adults in the community who aren’t college students, and haven’t been for longer than you’ve been alive. Lots. You can’t see them, because people over 30 become invisible at puberty and don’t reemerge until you start preparing your own tax returns, and the dull, gray plodding of financial survival wipes that smile right off the face of dreamy optimism. But we’re there. We’re apparitions at best, occasionally detected as unappealing blips on the periphery of your awareness that make you urp a little, but we’re real. And we can see you just fine. And, we’re not amused.
So, let’s see if we can lower the annoyance level just a skosh. Davis is small town, and we have to share it.
We’ll begin with the most vital topic: sushi etiquette. Specifically, Fuji Chef sushi etiquette. Here’s the deal: This is my restaurant. I merely share it with others, so try to behave like bipeds when you come in. Sushi is very quiet. Lower your voices to one tick above “library.” When a pack of students bursts in, chattering away like a treeful of parakeets, other people can hear that. Even when you can’t see them, they can hear you. And, they’re grimacing and squinting at you in aggravation.
Cell phones in restaurants. One word: No. Put them on “silent.” Better yet, turn them off. Seriously. You can do that now. There’s a button on your phone that you’ve never used that will shut that sucker right off. You can turn it back on again when you leave. I know — crazy, right?
And no text-cheating. Talk with the real, live people you’re with instead of hunching over your phone, frantically thumb-typing. Not only are you missing out on your actual life, it’ll give you bad posture and weird overdeveloped thumbs.
The worst transgression: texting madly away at the sushi boat bar and not eating. Peel your face away from your phone for a moment and look at the thick pack of hungry people huddled at the front door. See their glowering eyes? Yes. They are burning holes into your clueless back, as well as the backs of that cackling group with a high stack of half-eaten sushi (a basic sushi boat no-no), yacking away, braying with laughter, and shrieking into their cell phones because they can’t hear over their own din.
The sushi boat bar isn’t a social hour. Sit, eat and get out of the way. And if you’re at a table, note the designated area for picking up plates at the end of the bar — not in the middle, where people are eating. Hovering and leaning over them so you can scoop up all the sake nigiri you can carry is dangerously annoying. I know it’s hard to recognize that you’re leaning against people you can’t see, but keep it up and you’ll discover our existence when we jab our chopsticks into your solar plexus.
Bottom line, you’re destroying our concentration. The sushi boat is serious stuff. Colorful delicacies are cruising right by and if you aren’t paying attention, your eyes will wantonly overshoot your stomach capacity. One false grab, and you’re one tamagoyaki too full to enjoy that approaching rainbow roll.
You’re being a sushi jerk. Stop it.
Additionally, nobody likes grocery store jerks. Typically, they travel in roommate clusters, and absentmindedly abandon their cars perpendicular in the aisle and stare slack-jawed at the dizzying array of peanut butter, suffering over whether to get creamy or chunky. It’s peanut butter, not caviar, people! Get them both and move on! You are smart UC Davis students! If you’re stumped by peanut butter, Chem 101 is gonna be hell!
And dang if we Invisibles don’t manage to squeeze past your roadblock and then bump right into you again in the bread aisle.
“Dang, Taylor, this sourdough just smacked me in the face! How did that happen?”
“I dunno, Kylie, I didn’t see a thing!”
Then there’s the wine aisle … staring, staring, staring with wide, bewildered eyes, the weight of the universe resting on their selection, and then choosing Barefoot Merlot because the footprint on the label is cute.
One more bit of “Welcome” advice: safety. Here in America (and that includes Davis whether they like it or not), we look before crossing the street. If the car isn’t slowing down, we don’t just wander into its path anyway on rainbow wishes of collective goodwill and attentiveness. Ditto for bicycles. Just because you’re in Bicycle City USA doesn’t mean you can just merrily cut in front of an oncoming car and rely on the screeching of brakes to ensure your continued existence. Also, those weird bumps you just felt while peddling along? The flattened bodies of Invisibles.
So. There it is. Squelch the noise, kill the phones, don’t hog the sushi bar, don’t treat every grocery selection with the importance of a bomb diffusal, look before you cross and don’t run down Invisibles.
Also, stop being so young and perky, and full of hope and dewey-eyed optimism. It just pisses people off.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com