Chris Johnson: Some rules aren't meant to be broken

August 31, 2013 

As a rule, I'm not much into rules. Ask any boss I've ever had. Or teacher. Or professor. Or friends. Or my wife.

When I proposed to my wife, I prefaced it with, "you know I'm not much into rules …" because I proposed three weeks before the end of the year, during which we had a "rule" that we wouldn't make any binding commitments more official than perhaps a Jelly of the Month Club membership. (It's blackberry this month!)

When I began my first full-time job in Valdosta, Ga., as a sportswriter, my name was "Some of you" as in memos that began, "Apparently, some of you have forgotten the dress code." I hadn't forgotten it. How could I actively ignore it if I didn't know what rule I was ignoring?

When I got to my current position, there was a weekly scheduled Thursday meeting between me and my boss, whose office is 30 feet away. My first act was to cancel it. I simply said, "I'll tell you what: If I need to talk to you, I'll come talk to you; and if you need to talk to me, you come talk to me." Not only was he cool with that, but he's yet to say anything about the way I dress. He just scratches his head and goes about his business.

But I'm not against all rules. I'm against stupid rules. And I'm against rules that promote conformity for no apparent reason. I'm against rules that don't matter, that don't impact anyone else -- rules such as not being able to wear white after Labor Day, which side of the plate the fork goes on (I have no idea and don't care), and not being able to wear ballcaps in restaurants. These rules directly affect no one else and only indirectly aggravate those who are slaves to conformity and expect others to be.

However, I staunchly support many rules that, when broken, directly and adversely impact other people, such as:

Parking in a spot for the disabled. It doesn't matter if there are 20 empty disabled parking spots and only two people in the store, I just won't do it. And you shouldn't either … unless, of course, you're disabled. And by "disabled," I don't mean lazy!

Putting your tiny bag in the overhead bin of the plane, leaving no room for the carry-on bags that should go there. If it can fit under the seat in front of you, that's where you put it!

Throwing your cigarette butts on the street, sidewalk, beach or park. And this is not just against the rules, it's against the law!

Driving slow in the fast lane. Or, even worse, driving slow on a two-lane road and then speeding up as people try to pass you, endangering their lives!

Not saying "thank you" when I hold the door for you. I do this because I'm a gentleman, and I'm going to do it whether you say "thank you" or not. But a simple acknowledgment would be nice instead of strutting through like you're the Queen of England. It's not like I'm asking for a tip. I'll even take a polite nod of appreciation!

And perhaps the most virulent rule-breakers of all, those who have too many items in the "10 Items or Less" lane. And I'm standing behind you and your 47 items while holding nothing but a can of Vienna sausages. Really? Because the world revolves around you, right? Sure, you're in a hurry now, but something tells me you'll be driving 45 miles per hour in the fast lane when you leave!

To protest these rule-breakers, who actually impact other people with their rule-breaking, I intend to wear white every day after Labor Day until they straighten up.

-- Connect with Chris Johnson at

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