Roaches should die. You should shut up.

Dear Moron at Duane Reade,

Earlier this evening, I spotted a roach in my apartment. The brazen bastard walked around like he owned the place, ignoring me even as I picked up my shoe and prepared to crush him. Well, he's gone, but of course roaches have friends, so it was on. My wife hates bugs, and her problems become my problems. She's out of town, allowing me to take swift action without her needing to know about the roach I hunted and killed. I headed out to Duane Reade to purchase roach poison, the kind the bastards carry back to their nests, thereby serving as my tools of destruction.

Poison in hand, I saw with disappointment a long line facing the register, at which a manager was helping a cashier with some sort of problem. Good news for the roaches, whose death was briefly delayed. Moments later, you too discovered the long line. Unlike the rest of us, who suffered our disappointment silently, you loudly asked (of whom I cannot say) for permission to cut the line. It turns out this isn't Mayberry, and a woman near the front of the line replied.

"No," she said.

You then tried to hit on her in a ham-fisted fashion, asking if that was her "real hair." Eventually you moseyed to the back of the line, which had lengthened during your pathetic attempt at courtship. (By the way, your focus on hair was especially amusing considering your long blond hair, two-day beard, and blazer. You were sporting the "Kid Rock at the country club" look.)

Then our troubles began. You commenced a barrage of annoying comments directed at the "No" woman, suggesting at one point that you would gladly be "a piece of trash crushed by [her] boot." This is America, and you're entitled to your fantasies, even of a "crushing" nature. But keep it together, son! You were in public, speaking loudly to a stranger seven-or-so people ahead of you in a Duane Reade line. Muttering to yourself "This isn't working; she doesn't like me at all," while perhaps meant to be endearing in a cute, self-deprecating way, did not make up for the awkwardness you created. People in line winced as you continued to embarrass yourself.

Eventually, the manager solved the cashier's problem and opened a second register. Things started moving, albeit slowly. Your comments continued unchecked. "Can we get married? I love you." Really, have some self-respect. You went on at such length that I recalled those experiments showing that the larger the crowd, the less likely anyone is to help during a crisis. After all, surely that other guy will confront the loudmouthed Kid Rock clone at Duane Reade---why should I get involved? Was I in a psych experiment? If you turn out to be a graduate student of human behavior, please accept my apologies for this rant.

I could stand it no more. The manager's slowness had allowed you to subject the woman to one too many obnoxious utterances, and I turned to you and said, "I know this is New York, and people generally mind their own business, but could you give it a rest?"

"No," you said. "Are you gonna punch me and make me stop?"

"Probably not," I replied.

I think we all would have bet good sums that I wasn't going to punch you. I certainly it wasn't worth a night in jail and risk to my law license just to teach you some manners that Joe C neglected to share with you before shuffling off this mortal coil. What would I tell my cellmates in the Tombs, "I'm here 'cause I punched some pantywaist at Duane Reade?" I don't think so.

I would have needed to cook up some more exciting story, which some jailhouse snitch would have repeated in hopes of a reduced sentence. And it would have been just my luck that whatever nonsense I made up ("I killed a clown in Union Square for looking funny at my cilantro.") would have actually happened last weekend, leading to my arraignment and unemployment. Yes, yes, I'd have gotten the indictment dismissed eventually when the real clown killer came to light, but that wouldn't get me my job back, would it? And my picture in the New York Post below the screaming headline "FANCYPANT$ LAWYER BRAINS MIME WITH BRIEFCASE" would have linked me with clown murder indelibly in the public mind, which isn't easy to live with.

Regardless, you don't even know I have a law license, and for all you know I like fighting people at Duane Reade. You couldn't be sure, could you? So you quieted down for a while.

Then, as the woman headed for the door, her purchases in hand, you muttered all-too-loudly, "She's hot, and I have a right to say so."

Finally, something we can agree on. She is hot, or at least cute; I didn't get a good look at the front of her, what with her working so hard to avoid making eye contact with some idiot behind me in line. Your legal reasoning skills, however, leave much to be desired. Before you mail your application for a faculty post in First Amendment law at Columbia, consider this: Her being attractive does not provide you with a license to harass and humiliate her. Every time a woman hesitates before walking outside wearing something flattering, people like you are the cause. I wonder if she considered whether her Duane Reade trip was all that urgent, if maybe she shouldn't walk out after midnight but should wait until tomorrow instead. If she did, you and your ilk were part of her concern.

I for one enjoy seeing women walking the streets in attractive garb. My personal taste aside, women---like everyone else---should be free to walk around without being bugged by morons.

So pull yourself together. Leave the nice women alone, find your dignity, and stop making problems for the rest of us.

Sincerely Yours,

A Man More Annoyed with You than with Roaches, Which Is Saying Something

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