A summer camp has adopted my restriction on commenting on physical appearance, and I'm thrilled.

For more than a decade, I've been refraining from commenting on student's physical appearance, both negatively or positively. It's a policy I explain to parents and students at the beginning of the year, and it's one that my students have always appreciated.

My reasons are many.

  • There are far more important qualities in a child worth commenting on than the way a student looks. 
  • Children often have little control over their appearance. Choice of clothing and hairstyle is often dictated by parental preference and the family's income level and hardly represents any true fashion sense. 
  • Comments on physical appearance - even when positive - create a culture where physical appearance matters.
  • Comments on physical appearance are often skewed by culture, age, sex, and personal history.  
  • When you compliment on a little boy's suit or a little girl's dress, you risk unintentionally and unknowingly insulting the little boy or girl whose family can't afford a suit or dress. 

I could go on and on. 

Beginning this year, I've extended my policy to include all people save my wife, children, and mother-in-law. Except for these four people, I refrain from commenting on the physical appearance - positively or negatively - because I want to live in a world where physical appearance is less important than a person's actions, words, and deeds. 

Not everyone thinks these policies are brilliant. Quite a few find them unrealistic and fruitless. A few have pushed back hard on my position. To my knowledge, no one has adopted my policy for themselves.

Until now. 

My friend, Kathy, recently sent me information from Eden Village Camp where one of her cousin's sons is working as a Counselor in Training this summer. The camp has a policy called BodyTalk which states that campers are not permitted to comment on anyone's appearance whether positive, negative or neutral.  

They explain their rationale in great detail on their website, but one section that I liked a lot was this:

If you tell me “You have great hair,” for a minute it might feel nice and I might feel a certain kinship with you and obviously it’s not the end of the world. But physical compliments are still judgments on our appearance. This time the verdict was positive; next time it might not be. The scrutiny adds pressure on me to provide an encore, to spend time grooming my hair tomorrow too, so as to continue receiving approval. I might privately hate my hair and wonder whether you actually really like my hair or just want to bring attention to it, or if I’ve received many such compliments I might be concluding that my hair is important to making me valuable. I might wonder why you never compliment my clothing. If others witnessed the compliment, those people might be thinking “I wish my hair looked like that! Maybe I should get it chemically treated,” etc. In short, it’s a whole lot of mental noise. And that’s just for a compliment!

Bonding via appreciations is great – we encourage more meaningful ones, like specific ways in which someone inspires you or a time you noticed someone doing something kind.

I encourage you to check out their webpage that explains the policy in full. It's a reasonable, rationale, and respectful way of running a summer camp, and frankly, it's the way every school in America should be run as well.

Teachers may not be able to control the comments that students make about each other, but they can certainly control what they say to children themselves. There is absolutely, positively no reason for a teacher to make a comment on a student's physical appearance ever. It's purposeless, potentially harmful, and completely non-productive.  

If you'd like to read more about my thoughts on the subject, here are some previous pieces stretching back almost a decade:

Stop complimenting students

Don't compliment students. One kid's compliment is another kid's insult. Restaurant staffers also take note.

My brand new, completely unrealistic, possibly supercilious goal that you should try, too.

Teachers: Stop commenting, positively or negatively, on your student’s physical appearance. It’s only hurting them.

Complimenting an item of clothing is the lowest form of compliment

Greatest badass of all time

This is real. 

A photo of a man in Alberta, Canada mowing a lawn with a tornado swirling behind him.

Cecilia Wessels snapped the picture of her husband, Theunis, as the twister passed near their home in Three Hills. She said cutting the grass was on her husband's to-do list, and as he started the task, she went for a nap.

Wessels says she was woken by her nine-year-old daughter who was upset that there was something like a tornado in the sky, but her father wouldn't come inside.

"It looks much closer if you look in the photo," he said. "But it was really far away. Well, not really far, far away, but it was far away from us. I was keeping an eye on it."

Who can't respect the desire to complete a chore once you've started it?

Dumb school officials make dumb decision

I can't stand stupidity. This is stupidity.

The senior class President in Exeter, PA is delivering a speech at commencement. He decides to go off-script and criticize the school for the limited role that the student council makes in decision making. 

He does not swear. He does not insult anyone specifically. He doesn't even raise his voice. He simply expresses the hope that future senior class Presidents will have greater opportunities than he had.

The school's response? They cut off his microphone mid-speech and removed him from the podium.

So stupid. 

Perhaps the kid should've stuck to the pre-approved speech. Maybe this wasn't the time or place to express the desire for structural changes in his school's decision-making processes. Even I might've been angry at the kid for clearly circumventing the system for vetting speeches prior to commencement.

But when you cut off someone's microphone and publicly limit their ability to express a reasonable, rationale, and respectful opinion, particularly as senior class President, you only confer greater power upon the speaker and his words. The optics of this moment are atrocious. School officials portray themselves as authoritarian goons, and the kid achieves cult figure status.

In this case, his newly minted cult figure status attracted the attention of late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who brought the kid onto his show to finish his speech. Kimmel criticized school officials as well. 

Silencing dissent is never a good idea, particularly when the dissent is being expressed respectfully. Had the school district allowed the kid to finish his criticism of the role of the student council, his words would've been completely forgotten about nine minutes after he concluded his speech.

Instead, it became a national story. The video went viral. The kid got to finish his speech to millions of Jimmy Kimmel viewers. The moment will live on forever. 

Stupid. 

Last Man Standing

I've been teaching in the same elementary school since 1999. This year I said goodbye to my 18th class of students. 

Spending almost two decades in the same workplace has become an anomaly in America. Americans work in an average of 12 jobs over the course of their lifetime, and changing jobs every five years is not unusual. My school has been no exception. I've watched teachers come and go over the course of the last two decades, and as a result, I feel like I've been competing in an enormous game of Last Man Standing, and I'm losing badly.

In 2006 - just a decade ago - Elysha and I were married. At the time, we taught in classrooms less than 20 feet apart from each other. We saw each other throughout the day. Sat together in meetings. Brought children on field trips side by side. 

Two years later, she would leave on maternity leave, and though she would return for a brief, part-time stint at our school, those glorious days of working alongside the woman I love were over.

The man who officiated our marriage ceremony - my former principal, Plato - retired four years ago. Though he remains one of my closest friends today, gone were the days when we saw each other daily, and oftentimes hourly. I performed in his musicals. Spent weeks every fall at camp with him and our students. Tackled problems and celebrated students together.   

I had seven groomsmen in my wedding. At the time, two of them - Jeff and Tom - worked at my school. Both are now gone. One has left teaching entirely to take over his father's business, and the other moved onto another school district. They both remain close friends, but gone are the days when we would see each other daily.

A third groomsman, Charles, was married to my friend and colleague, Justine, who was a bridesmaid in Elysha's bridal party. Justine and Charles moved to Arizona several years ago. 

Our school's instrumental music teacher, Andy, with whom I have written a rock opera and three musicals and who played music at our wedding, left to become the department supervisor. Gone are the days when I would see him playing his chapman stick and writing songs. 

Donna, a teacher and my mentor, who was my closest friend and confidant for the first 17 years of my teaching career. She became the star of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, a real life person cast within my work of fiction. Donna retired last year. I still walk into her old classroom from time to time to talk to her, only to realize that she is gone when I see the new occupant of her classroom standing where she did for so many years.   

Amy, a fellow teacher who many referred to as my work wife, and a person who might have understood me better than any colleague ever save Elysha, left two years ago for another school district after marrying a man who lived in Massachusetts.

There were many other. Jess, my friend in the adjoining classroom, and Kelly, my friend across the hall whose wedding I DJ'd, left for other districts. Office staff Deanie and Jo-Ann - people who brightened my day everyday - retired. John passed away. Dana left her desk to become a teacher. Lee became a librarian. Katie went off to middle school. Laura and Diane and Ellen and Jo retired. So many more. So many faces that I no longer see.   

And now Rob, our vocal music teacher, has retired after 39 years in the classroom. Rob was one of the first people who I met back in 1999. He and I share so many stories together. I performed in musicals that he wrote. He also played music in our wedding ceremony. 

This doesn't even count the multitude of parents who became my friends while their children passed through my school. And while some remain some of my closest friends today, others have moved on, migrating to other parts of the country as their children got older or simply drifting away to the realms of middle school and high school with their kids.

It's an awful game of Last Man Standing, and I'm losing badly. Most of my closest friends are now gone. With the exception of a small handful of teachers, I have been teaching at our school longer than anyone.

There was a time - a period of four or five years - when almost everyone mentioned above was teaching alongside me. Those were glorious days. Perfect days when the people who I loved most worked under the same roof as me, doing the same work, and loving every minute of it,

Those classrooms are now filled with new teachers. Some of them are my friends. A few are near and dear to my heart.

But there was a time when the people who I love most in life worked alongside me. Spent their days with me. Shared the job of teaching side by side. 

When Rob announced his retirement in the spring, he told me that I was now the bearer of our stories. The link to the past. The historian of our school.

My response was immediate: I don't want to be the bearer of our stories. I don't want to carry he burden of the past.

I recently referred to Rob as the bedrock of our school, but in many ways, he was part of my bedrock as well. They all were. And as each person says goodbye to the school I love, I feel that bedrock under my feet crumbling. 

I want the past returned to me. A time when I could pop into Elysha's class at any moment. When I could listen to Rob and Andy make music together. Days when Plato and Tom and Jeff and I could leave work at the end of the day and squeeze in nine holes of golf.  

Today I walk by classrooms and see ghosts of former teachers. People who touched the lives of children and touched my heart and mind. I love my job, and I adore my colleagues. But there was a time when I worked with the people who I love most.

I miss those days. Last Man Standing is a lousy game to win, and I fear that I may be champion before long. 

"All gender" restroom signs are the best

Another Moth StorySLAM at The Oberon in Cambridge, MA meant another night using an all-gender restroom. This time I brought friends who found themselves in the presence of the opposite sex in a restroom for the first time. 

One of my male friends walked in on four women in the restroom and had to confirm that he wasn't misunderstanding the meaning of "all gender." 

He wasn't.

The general consensus: This is no big deal.

Why has it taken so long for human beings to realize that people with penises and people with vaginas can pee and poop in the same space? 

Even better, the all-gender restroom has spurred some much appreciated creativity when it comes to signage. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo, of course!

My daughter, Clara, is a bit of a geography nut. At the tender age of eight, I would venture to suggest that she knows more about world geography than most human beings.

And it has nothing to do with her intelligence or our attempt to instill a love of geography in her. She simply became curious about the topic and was handled the tools to pursue that curiosity. 

Books. Maps. Websites. 

The desire to learn is so powerful. 

In a recent competition to name countries beginning with certain letters, Clara included these three in countries beginning with the letter S:

  • Sudan
  • South Sudan, "which isn't the same as Sudan!"
  • Singapore, which she informs me is both a city and a country. "Just like Vatican City, Daddy!"

When we reached the countries beginning with D, she opened with Denmark.

I countered with the Dominican Republic and suggested that there might only be two. 

"I can think of another one," she said.

After thinking about it for a minute, I finally surrendered. "I give up. What?"

"The Democratic Republic of Congo, of course!"  

Of course. 

For the record, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Djibouti also start with D. Clara didn't know North Korea's official name (nor did I) but she knew about Djibouti and quickly showed it to me on a map.

Heroes have a way of making you realize how small-minded and ungrateful you have been.

Meet former US Special Forces soldier turned humanitarian aid worker David Eubank, running through ISIS gunfire in the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul in order to rescue a toddler who was sitting amidst a pile of dead bodies.

Eubank formed the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) as a Christian humanitarian group in 1997, providing emergency relief in war zones. Since January 2016, FBR has traveled to Iraq for relief trips.

After watching the video, a few things became clear to me:

  1. I can never be grateful enough to be born in a land of perpetual peace and stability. 
  2. My problems are trivial.
  3. I'm a coward compared to these heroes.

Shameful Betsy DeVos can't say what most human beings can say with ease

Here is the Secretary of Education for the United States of America, the caretaker of our public schools, the protector of our children's future, and also a person who has never taught in a school, never worked in a public school, and never sent her children to a public school, trying her hardest to avoid saying that children in her charter school program won't be discriminated based upon race or LGBTQ status.

It's remarkable. She is asked, rather simply, if discrimination will be forbidden in these schools based upon religion and LGBTQ status, and she refuses to say it.

It's shameful and disgusting. 

No one who works in education should have this much difficulty standing against the discrimination of children for any reason. No educator who I have ever known would struggle with this question like Betsy DeVos does. 

Then again, she is not an educator. She doesn't understand education. She knows nothing about the American public school student. She is literally the child of one billionaire and the wife of another. A wealthy, white woman who was sent to elite private schools for her entire life and never had to fear for her future. She has never known want or need or hunger.

And now she is the steward of our public schools. Teachers and children are depending upon her for their support, and she can't say, "No child will be discriminated against in these charter schools, for race, religion, LGBTQ status, or any other reason." 

Suck less

I love this sign. 

We live in a world where the President of the United States opened his very first Cabinet meeting by having each of his Cabinet members praise him as the television cameras rolled. Then he praised himself by declaring himself the post effective President in history with the possibility of Franklin Roosevelt. 

Americans laughed at this demonstration of fealty. Ridiculed him incessantly. Even the President's closest allies mocked this ridiculous display.

What people like Donald Trump fail to realize is that actions like these do not project strength. In fact, they do exactly the opposite. They demonstrate weakness, desperation, a lack of self confidence, and the cloying need to be loved. 

If you want to appear strong, you must do exactly the opposite. Vulnerability projects strength. Honesty and authenticity project strength. A willingness to acknowledge one's flaws, foibles, and failures is the way to demonstrate to others than you are strong in both mind and self. 

We all suck. We can all suck less. And if we all sucked less, we might just save the world.

The first step to sucking less is knowing that you suck. 

I suck. You suck.

Donald Trump really sucks. The sooner he acknowledges that, the better off we'll all be.  

Sleeps like her daddy

My daughter Clara, age 8, is very much like her Daddy. Up before the crack of dawn almost every day.

Recently I was telling my students about all the books she has been reading on historical figures, and one of my students asked how she gets so much done.

"She's up at 5:30 every day," I explained. "That gives her a couple hours every day before school to be productive. She reads a lot in that time."

My students were aghast. Most awake about half an hour before school. 

Last Saturday, Clara declared her love for the weekend, saying that on Saturday mornings, she can "sleep in."

"When was the last time you slept in?" Elysha asked.

"Today," Clara reported. "I woke up at my usual time, and then I closed my eyes for another 3-5 minutes."

Three to five minutes. My definition for "sleeping in" as well. 

If you are reading this, it is very likely that you don't deserve the fourth cookie

"You owe a debt to the unlucky."

Michael Lewis's 2012 commencement address is a truly outstanding speech.

So often I am told that a speech is great when it is not.
A speech is inspiring when it is packed with platitudes.
A speech is brilliant when it merely mundane. 

Michael Lewis's speech is outstanding. Lewis advises the graduates of Princeton University to remember how lucky they are. How blessed they have been with parents, country, university, opportunity, and ability. 

Hard work played a role in the graduates' success, no doubt, but millions of people around the world have undoubtedly worked much harder than these graduates and do not earn degrees from Princeton because of circumstances beyond their control.

It would be easy for me to claim I have been unlucky.

  • Kicked out of my childhood home after high school
  • Arrested and tried for a crime I did not commit
  • Homeless
  • Victim of violence that resulted in a lifetime of PTSD
  • Victim of an anonymous smear campaign that nearly destroyed my career.

Instead of going to college after high school, living on campus, traveling overseas, and immersing myself in the learning and lifestyle of my peers, I went to school four years later after putting jail, my trial, and homeless behind me. I worked 50 hours a week while double majoring at two different universities in order to survive.

It was not fun. It was not what college was supposed to be. I did not graduate college with lifelong friends or a bounty of memories of time spent in marble halls, crowded dorms, and green quads.

It was not the college experience that I had once dreamed of.

Still, I have been so lucky. Lucky to live in a country that provides freedom and opportunity. Lucky to be healthy and able to work as hard as I did. Lucky to be a white man who was not forced to battle the discrimination, hatred, and the glass ceilings of my female and minority friends. Lucky to find professors, bosses, and mentors who guided me. Lucky to find a family willing to rescue me from the streets. Lucky to survive horrific violence relatively unscathed. Lucky to find a brilliant and beautiful woman who was inexplicably willing to marry me. Lucky to have two happy, healthy children.    

Michael Lewis urges the graduates of Princeton to remember how lucky they are. How their success is predicated more on their good fortune than anything else. He reminds them of what can happen when you begin to believe that you have risen to the top through merit alone. 

It's the right message for the right audience at the right time, and it was spoken succinctly, clearly, and without qualification. 

Michael Lew is right, too. Wouldn't the world be a far kinder and gentler place if the successful people of our planet would be willing to acknowledge the degree to which luck has helped them to rise and while keeping other people down? 

We owe a debt to the unlucky. If only more people would be willing to pay that debt. 

The things I get done while sleepwalking

I've reached a new (and perhaps frightening) level of productivity.

Last night I went a'sleepwalking. It's something I did quite a bit as a kid and still do as an adult on occasion. I've been known to carry on long conversations with people, brush my teeth, walk off into the woods, gets dressed for work, and even eat a bowl of cereal, all while sleepwalking.

About ten years ago, I was sleepwalking when the veterinarian called us in the middle of the night to inform us that my dog, Kaleigh, who they were holding for observation, was not constipated as he had thought. A disc in her back had ruptured, requiring emergency surgery. I approved the $9,000 procedure that had a 50/50 chance of survival and a 50/50 chance that she would never walk again on her own. 

I was asleep during the entire phone call and have no recollection of it. I made important medical decisions and spent large sums on money while I was asleep. I did not find out that my dog had been in surgery until the vet called me the next morning to tell me that Kaleigh had survived the first of two parts of the surgery.  

It was quite a confusing phone call, as you might imagine. 

Last night I went a'sleepwalking. I only know this because on my way back to bed I tripped on some clutter near the stairs, hit my head, and awoke. I was surprised to find myself in the living room, but I was even more surprised this morning to find that I had worked on my next book while sleepwalking. The document was open on my laptop, and words that I have no recollection of writing were staring back at me.

About 500 words in all.

They don't actually fit the chapter that I am working on but are the perfect lead for a chapter two or three away. 

I'm not sure how long it took me to write those words, and I'm not sure if sleepwalking counts as quality rest, but it was remarkable to discover that I had accomplished so much while theoretically resting. 

I'm going to try to do it again tonight, which is to say I'm going to tell myself to do it again and see what happens.  

This could be my new thing.

Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you have to admire and hopefully agree with everything that James Comey says here during last week's hearings.

Some people may not believe everything that he said during the hearings (and yet simultaneously and inexplicably claim that his words serve as vindication), but these particular words are spoken by a patriot who loves his country deeply. 

The sad things is that In terms of actual wordsmithing, I can't think of anything that Trump has said as President that is as clear, forceful and inspiring as this, and Comey managed to say these words in the midst of questioning before the Senate. 

It was kind of fantastic. 

Of course, one must have a basic understanding of history in order to make speeches like this, and I am quite confidant that Trump wouldn't understand Comey's references to "a shining city on a hill" and "this great experiment."

A basic lack of knowledge makes makes it very difficult to say smart things. 

  • The man thought Frederick Douglass was still alive.
  • He asked a Women's Empowerment Panel if they knew who Susan B. Anthony was.
  • He could not explain the nuclear triad.
  • He thought NATO was funded through monies paid to the organization.  
  • He claimed that Andrew Jackson had profound thoughts about the Civil War and its prevention, even though Jackson died 16 years before war broke out and owned slaves himself. 

And he spoke this gem about Abraham Lincoln:

“Great president. Most people don't even know he was a Republican. Does anyone know? Lot of people don't know that.” 

Since the Republican Party constantly refers to itself as "the party that Lincoln founded," I suspect most people already knew that Lincoln was a Republican, but apparently not the current leader of that political party. 

How to Save a Boy

One of my high school classmates passed away this week. Joey Makar was one of those kids who was a friend in elementary school but drifted apart in middle and high school.

The kid you walk by in the hallway between classes and think, "We used to collect toads by the stream and race Pinewood derby cars together, but damn that seems like forever ago."

Joey was sadly the last of the Makar boys. Stephen, a few years older than me, was a fellow Boy Scout and one of the kindest people I have ever known. He tragically passed away during my childhood. Brian, the middle brother who I didn't know well, has also passed away. 

I knew the Makar boy's father well. He was one of my Scout leaders. I spent many a day in his basement wood shop, in the back of his van, and hiking through the forest with him. He is still alive today, and I can't imagine the pain he must feel having lost his three sons.

My heart goes out to him.

As human beings, we are the sum of our lives. A complex combination of the our words and deeds. We know ourselves through our history, and those closest to us - parents, spouses, children, and dearest friends - know us this way as well. The sum of a thousand moments spread out over years and decades. 

But for many other people, we are also defined by a moment. A brief snapshot encounter that will remain as our singular defining characteristic in their hearts forever.

Joey was one of those people to me. 

Our Scout troop was camping on a hot summer day. Tents had been pitched. Firewood collected. Hacky sacks deployed. A couple of boys were sitting on a log, whittling and laughing. A couple more were tossing a football. I was standing alone, feeling a little left out, when a few of the older boys walked over and began picking on me. It wasn't especially cruel or malicious, but they were older and bigger than me, and for whatever reason, I was feeling especially vulnerable. I felt alone. Helpless. 

The worst thing I could've done in that moment was cried. The rest of the weekend would've been spent listening to boys make fun of me for balling. Acting like a baby. But as their insults continued, I felt the tears coming and didn't see any way of stopping them.

Then Joey, a boy who I had once collected toads with by the stream and raced Pinewood derby cars, appeared. We hadn't been friends for a couple years, and we almost never spoke, but Joey stepped over and said, "C'mon. We're doing stuff."

That was it. He wasn't looking for someone to round out a football game or didn't need someone to hold a log steady while he sawed. He was doing stuff, which was his way of saving my life. 

We walked away from those older boys without saying a word,. Once well clear of them, he asked if I wanted to hacky sack with the guys. I did, and I stayed in that hacky sack circle all weekend, feeling like I belonged. 

That is how I remember Joey Makar. He was a boy who saved a boy who he didn't need to save. He saw me, recognized my pain, and pulled me back from the precipice of shame and ruin. 

I tell this story to my students every year, in hopes that Joey's actions will inspire others to commit similar acts of random kindness. I tell them to save kids like me by saying, "C'mon. We're doing stuff." 

I don't know what became of Joey Maker after high school. i don't know the sum of his life. I don't know the complex combination of his words and deeds. But I have a singular defining moment that has remained in my heart for the last 35 years. 

This was Joey Makar for me. A moment of kindness and bravery that I will never forget and will keep on sharing with children for all the days of my life.

Rest in peace, Joey. And thank you.  

My home state's stupidly misspelled word, and some confusion about misspelling related to pornography

As a writer, teacher, and geography nerd, I was so excited about this map of America's most misspelled words  

Then I saw my home state of Connecticut's most misspelled word (according to Google Trends):  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

So stupid. Every other state (except for West Virginia) gets an actual word that we use in everyday life, and my state gets a word that I just wrote for the first time in my life.

I'd love to know who is misspelling this word with such frequency as to ascend to the top of the Google ranking in our state. 

Looking at the map, there are also some words that I can't believe made the list.

How do Idahoans misspell "quote?" Forget the u? Start it with a k?
And how in the world do Mississippians misspell "nanny?"
Also, the people of Wisconsin apparently can't spell the name of their own state? 

Then there's this list of most frequently misspelled search terms by state according to a pornography site. In this case, my state's most commonly misspelled word is "amateur," which at least makes a little more sense. 

I admit I had to do some Googling to determine what "henti" and "hentia" were meant to be, and I still have no idea what "carton" is supposed to be.

Thoughts? Don't tell me if I don't want to know. 

17 rules I break

Last month, I wrote about my philosophy of rule breaking:

If someone is breaking a rule, and the breaking of that rule hurts no one, always leave the rule breaker alone. Leave them be. Don't rat them out. Don't wish them ill will of any kind. 

I also wrote about an afternoon spent teaching some young women to break rules in order to simplify life.

I was then asked by readers to list other rules that I routinely break. Here is that list. 

____________________________

1. I never worry about dating a document correctly because no one cares if the document is dated correctly unless they tell you to date it correctly.   

2. I make right turns on red even when the coast is clear even when there is a sign indicating that it's illegal because waiting for no conceivable reason is insanity.

3. I ignore dress codes whenever possible because the only people who really care if you are conforming to the dress code are the worst possible people. Also, everyone is way too busy thinking that everyone is looking at them. Also, you have a right to feel good about the way you look. 

4. When I am using a single user restroom and someone tests the knob, finds it locked, and then knocks, I refuse to answer because this behavior is lunacy. Isn't a locked door signal enough that you're not coming in?

5. When asked for my position on a document at work, I list "Upright" every time. 

6. I pee in the woods while playing golf, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but is technically illegal according to both law enforcement and the golf club.

7. I exceed the speed limit with my car, though almost never to any excess. 

8. When parking my car at a gas station or rest area with the sole intent of going inside to use a restroom or make a purchase, I park in front of a gas pump as if I'm also purchasing gas if no closer space is available.

9. I eat the food in the grocery store that I plan on buying (usually candy bars, soda, Pop Tarts, and fruit) and then scan the bar codes on the empty wrappers at the checkout. This is occasionally a problem with food that is paid for by the pound.

10. I refill cups of soda at McDonald's even though it isn't during the same visit. 

11. I treat red lights as stop signs after 1:00 AM.

12. I ignore all deadlines unless there is an actual consequence attached to the deadline. A deadline without a consequence is simply a line.   

13. If I lose a ball off the tee while playing golf, I do not return to the tee and hit again. I drop the ball where I think the ball landed, take a one stroke penalty, and play on. I do this to improve speed of play and not to improve my score.  

14. I drive while wearing wireless headphones.

15. I look at the GPS application on my phone while driving.

16. I jaywalk. 

17. I use single user restrooms designated for women if the men's room is occupied and no woman is waiting.