John Kelly's Washington

John Kelly
Washington Post Metro Columnist
Friday, May 22, 2009; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly was online Friday, May 22, at Noon ET to chat about awkward job interview questions, people who text in movie theaters and panda pregnancies.


It's onlt 11:20...: ...and I'm desperate for your chat to start! Don't you know that your chat is what gets some of us through a long, tedious, last day of the week? Can't you speed up the clock?

John Kelly: Okay, it's a minute early. Let's start!


John Kelly: Greetings and hello on this last chat of the Spring. Summer unofficially kicks off on Monday, with grilling and parades and (probably) rain. Summer in D.C. means I can finally don my seersucker. What are other signs of a Washington summer?

This week I took aim at people who text during movies. I received a ton of e-mail about that. Oddly, no one confessed that they were movie texters (aka "mexters") and tried to defend themselves. I take that back. One woman said she had mexted before: She's a midwife and a patient was going into labor. I'll excuse it.

I'm thinking of starting a movement. "Radical Civility" I'll call it. Members will be deputized to stamp out mexting wherever they encounter it. We will dispatch people who talk during movies or stand on the left on Metro escalators. We will take action against people who take two spaces when they park their cars. We will not be violent. In fact, we will be extremely polite.

Did you see my column about the

creepy questions on a personality test

given at a local communications firm? "Would you take part in an orgy?" was just one of them.

A reader named Leslie e-mailed with the strangest job interview question she encountered. In 1980 she applied to the San Diego Police Dept, which at the time had very few women in it. Part of the process was to take a lie detector test. "Obviously, the lie detector operator was used to interviewing just men," Leslie wrote.

"The questions started out not to odifficult, then the interesting ones came out... 'Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex?' No. 'Have you ever had sex with an animal?' No...(OK, a few men in my younger days MAY have qualified for that - but I don't think that was what they were looking for).

"Then.... The BIG question that got me to laugh and comment back: 'Have you ever had sex with a dead person?' Of course, I pointed out the fact that I was a woman, and without a 'live' person on the other end, that may be difficult unless some serious rigor mortis set in."

She got the job. "I guess they liked my sense of humor."

What's the most uncomfortable question you've been asked during an interview? Or are you usually the one doing the asking?


Dear Answer Man:: It makes sense that the most important state-named avenues in Washington would be named for the original states, with a couple of exceptions like Wisconsin.

What I've always wondered is why the avenues named for northern states (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York) are generally more important than the ones named for southern states (except Georgia).

Possible explanation: the state-avenues were named north-south, which put some of the original southern-named avenues in the old part of the District that was ceded back to Virginia in the 1800s, and some existing streets were renamed for the southern states.

So my question is: is there a street in Arlington that had once been South Carolina Avenue when it was in the District?

John Kelly: I don't know the answer to that question. My hunch is no. I've heard that the avenues were named roughly geographically. That is, the northern states tended to have avenues in the northern part of the city. Georgia took over another street, when Georgia's delegation decided that they street they had wasn't grand enough.


Ellicott City, Md.: Boy, you opened a can of worms about texting in movie theaters. Thank you for writing it. I used to love going to the movies (and no, it is not the same to wait for it to come out on video no matter how big your TV is) but now I get so annoyed with people talking, texting, chewing loudly, and on and on that it is not as much fun to go. And I have asked people not to talk during the movie before, usually "the look" does not work. I have gotten up and moved if there were seats available, but as you stated that is not always possible. And this selfish behavior does not just exist in movie theaters, it is everywhere, I see it more and more every day. I don't even want to go into all the ways because it just makes me more annoyed. But I see examples of selfish behavior many times every day. People, please start thinking about how your actions affect other people and stop just thinking of yourselves. It sounds easy but just "do the right thing." Please. Here's a Message for Theater Texters: You're Being Rude. Knock It Off. (Post, May 20)

John Kelly: I called the Landmark E Street Cinemas to chat with them about the problem and they said they don't have it. The theater is deep underground and cell phone signals don't penetrate. I think that may be the way of the future: Employ signal-jamming electronics of the sort the military uses in Iraq. That wouldn't help with people who talk and chew. For that, I think a live usher should make an announcement before the movie starts, saying that if anyone is being disturbed by another patron's behavior, they should just notify an usher. Those little slides they flash on the screen have just become part of the background. Too many people ignore them.


Downtown D.C.: I'm a former Woodward employee, and I must say I'm bummed that John Boffa never asked me my sexual preferences!

Goodness gracious. Help Wanted. Please Have Resume, References and Details of Sexual Inclinations. (Post, May 21)

John Kelly: He only started using that test this year, he said. And sexual preference is one thing it doesn't ask, though a version of it I found online did ask whether you watched pornography. (Well, not YOU, Downtown D.C., but the person taking the test.)

John said he thought the test might be a good way to weed out incompatible people but I have my doubts, not to his intent but to how useful such a test would be. I mean, I think it's so much corny mumbo-jumbo.


John Kelly: The question that I always hated was any variation on "Tell me some of your weaknesses."

I mean what a bogus question. You want me to out myself? I always want to say something like, "My biggest weakness? It's probably my over-riding devotion to my work. I get so committed to doing my job that sometimes my personal life suffers."


Silver Spring, Md.: John, any idea what's up with the grading and brush-clearing down next to the railroad tracks between N.Y. and R.I. Aves?

I'm wondering if they are finally working on extending the bike path that is supposed to eventually link up with the Crescent in Silver Spring?

John Kelly: "That's exactly what that is," said Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Eric said that late last year the city put out a contract for the next section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which will go from New York Avenue to Franklin Street just south of Catholic U.

Said Eric: "We actually hope to have a formal ground-breaking ceremony in the next couple of weeks, and that section of the trail open by the fall."

He calls the

Metropolitan Branch Trail

"the missing link in the bicycle beltway." When it's done it will connect the Mall and Union Station with Silver Spring, where it will link up with Georgetown Branch Trail and the new transit center.


Washington, D.C. Native: Let's discuss the D.C. phenom of walking on the left, standing on the right on escalators. This is something totally culturally unique to D.C. and as I discovered recently trying to run through several airports, something we need to export to the rest of the country.

John Kelly: When we were living in England it used to bug My Lovely Wife that though the British DRIVE on the left, they WALK on the right on their sidewalks. I pointed out that actually they don't walk on the right. Or the left. They just walk all over. Trying to walk anywhere in London, in any direction, is like swimming upstream.

In fairness, that could be due to so many foreign visitors.


Silver Spring, Md.: John, thanks for acknowledging that the people you accused of bad park "etiquette" might, with a little bit of rudimentary investigation, have been revealed to be MNCPPC-sanctioned "weed warriors." I think you also owe a shout-out, however, to the Friends of Sligo Creek, considering they do the same service in the very park in which you and Your Lovely Wife saw the weeders.

John Kelly: I'm not convinced that they were all weed warriors, but I'm happy to have passed on information on the program. And, yes, the Friends of Sligo Creek are an important part of keeping the creek and the park clean.

I'm not sure I'm crazy about those interpretive signs that tell me about stream ecology in English and Spanish, however.


D.C.: Fenty is giving his political cronies Nats tickets. Isn't that like when your kid brings home straight A's and you reward her at dinner time with a second helping of broccoli??

John Kelly: Yeah, really. First prize: Two Nats tickets. Second prize: Four Nats tickets.


Nationals Park, Section 110: Wanted to say something on Orioles/Nationals this weekend.

I am going tonight to what will likely be my only baseball game of the summer. And to me, it's huge. I'm jumping with excitement and can't wait to get off work.

I know I know I know..."it's not a real rivalry till the teams start actually winning." But tonight's game means a lot to me. I grew up here and was an Orioles fan for the first 18 years of my life until I slowly began to say: "I love them both, unless they are playing each other...then I root for the Nats."

I'm sure I'm not alone in having to make this tough call.

I'm going to have a blast tonight, but it will be a little weird rooting against the Orioles.

Regardless...GO NATS!

John Kelly: It is possible to enjoy watching even a bad team, especially if you're in a lovely ballpark on a lovely late-spring evening. Tom Boswell once wrote a great column about how to watch an awful team. I couldn't put my hands on it, but I did find this from Boswell, written after the Orioles had their dreadful start:

"Anyone, especially any child, can root for a champion. What's tough about loving perfection? Miss Universe always gets a date. It takes conviction, maybe even a smidgen of character, to root for Herb Plews or Billy Ripken. Lessons in handling daily frustration, or matching our ambitions to our abilities, aren't learned from World Series winners.

"The worse a team, the more fortitude it demands of us. For example, holding a marriage together might seem easy after rooting for Baltimore to protect a late-inning lead. W.B. Yeats said, 'Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned/by those that are not entirely beautiful.' Or, sometimes, by those, like the Orioles, who're pretty ugly."

Have fun tonight.


We will not be violent. In fact, we will be extremely polite. : Ever see John Waters's movie "Serial Mom"? Kathleen Turner was marvelous as the perfect suburban housewife who secretly murdered people who didn't recycle, who didn't rewind their videotapes before returning them, who wore white shoes after Memorial Day...

John Kelly: You mean white shoes after Labor Day.

So this happened to my wife the other day: The Safeway parking lot was crowded. There were two empty spaces next to each other. One was next to a Cadillac Escalade. She parked in that one, in her Mini. As she was getting out, the Escalade's owner came up. "Why did you park next to my car?" she asked. "I won't be able to get in." The woman was somewhat large, but not morbidly obese. Ruth had been able to get OUT of her car. The Mini was well within the white lines of the parking space. The Cadillac, on the other hand, was right up to the white line of its space.

I would not have been surprised if my wife had thrown it down right there, going womano a womano. But she just got in the Mini and moved to the other space.

This is how the Radical Civility movement will work: We will not put ourselves in danger. We will point out that we are in a perfectly legitimate space and perhaps the problem is with the size of the SUV and the way it is parked.


Interview questions: I'm looking for a job right now and I hope I get asked about my weaknesses: "I'm incapable of reading any document without finding spelling or punctuation errors."

John Kelly: Oh, that's a good one. Of course, you have to be careful about finding them in the documents of that company. You'd think they'd appreciate it, but that's not always the case. Sometimes they get kind of defensive.


Personality Test: Are we sure they're not trying to weed out those who will refuse to participate in the annual office wife-swap orgy?

John Kelly: Annual? It's weekly. I think they call it "Wife Swap Wednesday" there. And casual Friday is clothing optional.

I just find that so dated: wife-swapping. It's like the wives have no say in the matter.


"Tell me some of your weaknesses." : I answered that one honestly in an interview and the interviewer smiled really big, and said she was so glad I'd given a real answer. I just picked something small I'd truly like to do better on, something that made sense for my job. I did get that job.

John Kelly: Congratulations. I think it's always a good idea, in any sort of interview situation, to run through the questions you think you might be asked. You don't necessarily have to prepare a canned answer, but the simple fact of thinking about the question a bit will help you.


Atlanta, Ga.: but isn't broccoli at least good for you?

John Kelly: Well I don't think the Nats are dangerous. Maybe we should study that: compare mortality rates of Nats' game attendees with non-attendees. But I don't think you'd be able to get a big enough sample size.


I think a live usher should make an announcement before the movie starts, saying that if anyone is being disturbed by another patron's behavior, they should just notify an usher.: HAHAHAHAHAHA. And just what do you think that would accomplish? Even managers refuse to confront offenders these days.

John Kelly: Ideally there would be some enforcement behind this. But you'd only need the enforcement for the hard cases. I think the majority of people who text and talk do it because they truly don't believe that it's wrong. They're just clueless. A reminder from a real person before the show started would inform them, and also put them on notice so they're not surprised if a patron whispers, "Hey, can you please stop texting? It's really distracting." Hopefully peer group pressure would do the rest.


Pregnant on the Metro: I haven't been able to participate in the discussion real-time for the past few weeks. I wanted to weigh in on the issue of offering seats on the Metro and this was my first opportunity to do so.

I don't know if much has changed in the past 5 years since I was pregnant, but I always found plenty of folks willing to offer a seat up to me. They would make eye contact and simply ask if I wanted a seat. I could say yes or no. No questioning about whether I was pregnant or fat or carrying a tumor, etc...

However, a funny thing happened to me. I had severe upper leg pain due to my ligaments softening too early (they soften for the delivery but mine softened prematurely.) I could not sit down and get back up without severe pain.

Believe it or not, I had several people argue with me about why I should take a seat in such a pregnant condition. I actually had a woman try and push me into a seat.

I don't like discussing my physical conditions with total strangers, but in that situation, there I was, explaining to this woman why I couldn't sit down.

I should have just said, "hemorrhoids."

John Kelly: Boy, the female body is an amazing thing. Of all the freaky things I watched happen to my wife when she was pregnant, I didn't even know about soft ligaments. No wonder I used to find my wife lying on the floor like a boneless chicken.


More on texting: Here's my pet peeve: my neighbors (or, more accurately, people who live in the same building as I do) who enter one of our building's elevators with me and can't even be bothered to say "hello" or "good morning" in response to my greeting because they're too busy texting or talking on their phones. And the younger the person is, the more likely he or she is to have not learnt (or to have forgotten) the simplest demands of neighborliness. Maybe I'm invisible to them because I'm old.

John Kelly: It's probably just as well to be invisible to people like that.


Mexting: I was at the BSO and the woman in front of me was using her phone to record the performance. Hello?

John Kelly: Sheesh. And you can imagine the great quality that's going to provide. I wonder if we're losing the ability to REMEMBER things. We can capture so many things in real-time now, save them to microchips and disks, that we don't have to commit anything to our memory.


Reston, Va.: Hi John: It seems to me that the issue with society today is that we can't just do one thing at a time. We always have to be doing 2 or 3 or 4 things in order to maximize our effectiveness. Talking on the phone and driving, watching a movie and's all just an example of how we've lost the ability to appreciate the moment for what it is.

John Kelly: Yes, I think that's it. Part of it is a work ethic--the Crackberry--but I think that's only part of it. We get bored easily and we think playing Brickbreaker is somehow better than reading a book (which we may not be able to do because the Metro station is too dark). The idea of just standing there or sitting there, entertaining ourselves with just the thoughts in our head, scares a lot of people.


Arlington, Va.: Movie ushers? There are no ushers in movie theaters any more. If someone near you is being a jerk (texting, talking on the phone or having an endless conversation with the person next to them), you have to leave the theater and miss part of the movie if you want to get help from a theater employee.

John Kelly: I received an e-mail from a woman who said that she was spat at by a woman in a movie theater after she'd asked her to stop talking. Luckily, it didn't land on her. It landed on the talker's boyfriend. There is karma.

I understand that some movie theaters will give you a free pass if you complain about bad patrons.

But, yes, you may miss some of the movie. This is one of the costs of Radical Civility. Hopefully, over time, the jerks will learn their lesson and peace will reign.


But she just got in the Mini and moved to the other space. : The reason that's the right thing to do is that you don't want the Cadillac woman bashing her door into your car in an effort to prove she's right.

John Kelly: Exactly.


Arlington, Va.: John, if I were your wife, there is no way I would have moved my car. Instead I would have calmly taken out my cell phone and taken photos that showed where the 2 vehicles were parked, making sure to get a good clear shot of the license plate of the Escalade, so I would be able to give the information to my insurance company (and the police, if necessary) if the other woman damaged my car.

John Kelly: I think that would have escalated the situation. An Escaladation, if you will. It would have had the potential to enrage the other driver.


Gloves and alphabet: John, do you want to remind us to get our glove project and alphabet entries to you by the 29th?

John Kelly: Yes, thank you. May 29th is the deadline. I'm learning a lot from these contests, namely that I need to come up with easier contests. Stay tuned.


Washington, D.C.: When I was little my brother and I used to set up our electric trains so they'd meet in the middle of the track and crash. It wasn't the actual crash we enjoyed so much, although that was pretty cool, as the anticipation. Watching the Nats is kind of like that. It's not the actual crash so much as the anticipation...

John Kelly: And the great thing about baseball is anything can happen. I was going to go to that weekday daytime game a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't able to--work got in the way--but that ended up going into extra innings then being called when the rain started. It'll be resumed later in the summer. That's a quirky experience, not necessarily enjoyable but one to remember.


Priority Seating on Metro: Longtime Metro rider, but I've never been clear on this: if the seats don't have a Priority Seating sign above them, are they then OK for general use? Many times only two of the four sets of in-facing seats by the doors will have the Priority Seating sign above. The other two sets will often just have the large maps, but no other signage. I can see why people might sit there thinking nothing of it.

John Kelly: I've always thought that all of those inward-facing seats were for priority use.


Can we take a quiz to the potential employer?: I'd love to bring a personality test to an interview and ask my potential employer to fill it out. So I could avoid any creepy or nasty bosses.

John Kelly: Yeah, really. I wonder if it would be out of line, if you're asked to take a personality test, to see the boss's results.


Arlington Gay: I can trump your movie texting. Last month, my partner and I went to NYC to see a few Broadway shows. At one performance, there were three women sitting next to me and all three of them texted for the entirety of Act 1. Luckily for me, they left at intermission. $300 in tickets to text in a theater? (Otherwise, it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. Next to Normal, which was in Arlington before going to Broadway!)

John Kelly: Wow. Here's another question from a reader: She was at a subtitled foreign film and the couple in front of her were deaf. They talked to each other with sign language throughout the film.

Were they being rude? Would she have been justified in asking them to stop?


Burbank, Calif.: Hello from the west coast!

I was in the market the other night and a guy at the meat section took a pic on his cell phone to send to the wife so she could select which steak he was considering.


John Kelly: If I could figure out how to do that sort of thing, I would. Usually with my phone I take photos of my ear or the inside of my pocket.


Movie Theater Rudeness: I had an experience last year that stunned me. The couple next to me were inanely stage-whispering their way through Prince Caspian ("I bet they're at Cair Paravel!").

I politely asked them to hush, the husband said, "If you're expecting complete silence, you may want to move." NOTE: The theater was full, there was nowhere to go. I stated that the occasional whisper was fine, but the narration was distracting.

Then, the WIFE WENT TO THE MANAGER TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ME. Yes, somebody decided to fight for their right to jabber their way through a movie. Luckily, the manager (who I imagine was maybe half my age) declined to intervene.

John Kelly: But the manager SHOULD have intervened, on your side. The gall: "If you're expecting complete silence...."

Uh, yeah. I'm at a movie theater. Of course I expect silence.


"Would you take part in an orgy?": What is the 'correct' answer? -- in order to get the job and BE employed] No means you're a judgmental puritan and yes means you're a perv.

John Kelly: I'm sure the Mensa genius who came up with the test would say there is no "correct" answer. It just is considered along with all the other stupid questions--Do you like loud parties? Would you be an astronaut? Do you like to pet furry creatures?--in coming up with your "personality."


'Have you ever had sex with a dead person?' Of course, I pointed out the fact that I was a woman, and without a 'live' person on the other end, that may be difficult unless some serious rigor mortis set in." : UNLESS you're a lesbian! Your generalization as a hetero was just as bigoted as his generalization as a man.

John Kelly: Yes. Let's not slight the lesbian necrophiles among us.


Nat's fan: I moved here from MA in 2002. Being a Red Sox fan all my life was good training to become a Nat's fan.

John Kelly: Things turned out okay for you. You even overcame your curse. Does Washington have a curse?


Cubefarm in D.C.: John,

I wanted to update something from a few weeks ago...I am the reader who didn't die while walking in London. Someone later hypothesized that I may not be a subscriber. Turns out, I am both a reader and subscriber! So it's win-win.

I also wanted to state that there is no way I would have moved my vehicle for the Escalade. No way. I like the cell phone camera idea -- I think it's less likely the other driver would do anything stupid because you now have evidence that they were in the wrong. I believe that self-entitled people should have to be a little uncomfortable from time to time. But maybe I'm just crabby because I'm one of three people left in my office today.

John Kelly: Wait, who's running the Department of Homeland Security?

I think it was good for my wife to back down. I'd hate to have to pick bits of her out of an Escalade grill.


Deaf Signing @ the Movies: Rude -- absolutely. Ask them to stop (this may be difficult, or not). Just because they are a protected class doesn't mean that we absolve them of everything.

John Kelly: That's what I thought, too. But where do you draw the line? For example, we were at a show at the Birchmere and a woman with long hair near us could not stop stroking it. She rang her fingers through it nonstop, taking little bits of hair in her fingers and and twirling it. It was very distracting. I think it must have been some sort of obsessive-compulsive thing. I don't know how you ask someone like that to stop.


Would she have been justified in asking them to stop? : They wouldn't be able to HEAR her! But Seriously, we're getting a little too deep in victimology if we're considering asking DEAF people to STOP SIGNING! People! Slap yourselves in the face and snap outta it!

John Kelly: But isn't that distracting? I mean, it's not quite doing jumping jacks it is "talking."


Cell phone signals: If I am not mistaken there is a federal law banning the use of cell phone jamming signals.

John Kelly: Hey, orgies and wife-swapping are banned in some places too, but I understand it still happens.


Movie goer: I was at the movies a couple of years ago. The guy behind me had an oxygen tank that hissed and pumped thru the whole movie. It was very distracting. Not that I think that someone on oxygen shouldn't go out but wow was this annoying.

John Kelly: Were you seeing "Blue Velvet"?


Usually with my phone I take photos of my ear or the inside of my pocket. : Haha! I got a new digital camera and have been trying to take photos of my now very mobile 10-month-old daughter. I'm getting lots of shots of the floor, the blinds and my shoes. But there's always slight blur in the corner -- my daughter crawling out of the photo zone. I can see us looking at the photos albums years from now. "Honey, here's a photo of the floor where you were just standing a moment before."

John Kelly: You obviously need to Velcro her to the carpet.


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: John --

What does Radical Civility have to say about dealing with people who park so as to occupy both heads of a two-headed parking meter?

John Kelly: We will call the parking enforcement officers and notify them as to the location of the offending vehicle in the hopes that it will get TWO tickets: one for each space it's in.


The weaknesses question: Is there a way to put a good spin on "the line between careful planning and procrastination can get awfully thin"?

John Kelly: No. I'd go with "The voices in my head sometimes tell me to kill my boss."


Stop me if I've told you this before: Once at the movies, I was annoyed because the lady in the seat in front of me was talking through the previews. I LIKE the previews and paid for the whole package. I asked her to be quiet and my fiance told me I was embarrassing him because he knew her. She called me "type A" -- which in not accurate, I'm pretty lazy. Fast-forward a year and my fiance dumps me, marries the movie-talker and divorces her 9 months later. Moral of the story: Movie-talkers are immoral fiance stealers!

John Kelly: We should use that for a public service announcement. "Does your loved one talk through movies? Is he or she attracted to someone who does? These could be warning signs...."


Movie Theater Rudeness...: Oh, it gets better. After the manager declined to intervene, the couple spent the rest of the movie glaring at me and loudly sighing in my direction. Luckily, the movie was dull as mud so I was sort of enjoying their little performance.

I was worried they'd jump me after the film. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of chatty suburbia?

For his part, my boyfriend at the time decided to wait outside with the motor running every time he took me somewhere thereafter.

John Kelly: Maybe we need celebrities to film the "don't talk" clips before movies, the way they had New Yorkers do that for cab behavior. Would you be less likely to talk or text of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Renee Zelwegger had asked you not to?


Arlington, Va.: In my experience, people text and talk at movie theaters because they just don't care about the people around them. I once sat next to a couple who came in late, talked to each other constantly, and then the woman took a call on her cell phone. When I asked her to please be quiet so I could hear the movie, she yelled at me to "mind your own ----ing business." I replied that I wanted to mind my own ----ing business, but that wasn't possible because they had been talking ever since they sat down. She continued to yell at me, causing all the people around us to stare at us. Finally after a few minutes they shut up, but I spent the rest of the movie fully expecting them to jump me in the parking lot. And I guarantee you, to this day they think I was the rude person, and they did nothing wrong.

John Kelly: Some people may be beyond our help.


But isn't that distracting?: I'm sure the signing wasn't blocking view of the screen. We have to be grown-up and live with a few things that aren't 100 percent exactly how we want them every day. Realistically, how do we expect to control everything and everybody so it's all exactly how we want? We'd go crazy and be VERY stressed! The alternative is to BE FLEXIBLE. Be zen about it and enjoy life.

John Kelly: I tend to agree, but I also think there's a thin line between "be Zen" and "get walked on."


RE: "Would you take part in an orgy?": With these personality tests, they often tell you to answer as you would have when you were younger. It's supposed to get the heart of who you really are, before you got all confused as an adult. So answer these questions as you would have at say, age 19, and you should be fine.

John Kelly: If they ask you whether you would participate in wife-swapping, write in the margin, "I don't have a wife."


Questions for an Interv,EEEW?!: Hi John,

I occasionally interview people as part of my job. I cannot possibly imagine asking someone during an interview if they would ever participate in an orgy. What possible value could that provide in assessing the candidate? Unless, maybe...let's say Candidate A has a recurring orgy every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.. Candidate A may have developed to become a more efficient programmer than Candidate B, who has a recurring dentist appointment every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.. I may have to try this out and get back to you -- this could be the missing link in IT Staffing!

John Kelly: Ah, you're saying Candidate A will be in hurry to get off to his orgy and thus will finish his work sooner? I'd just worry about him Friday mornings.


West Des Moines, Iowa: Regarding movie theater etiquette, I am always defending Des Moines as a great place to live that offers similar food, entertainment, and activities as the coastal cities, and that we all don't live on farms. We also can be just as rude, fast walking and belligerent as you guys as well. However, I am happy to say that our movie theater etiquette is still great. I have gone to movies the last three weekends in a row and not once has any one been talking, texting, phoning or rude in any way. Maybe I should be proud to live in an area that is called fly-over country.

John Kelly: Perhaps we need a revised version of Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine: Des Moines and Washington.

"Des Moines sits quietly through the movie, with his hands resting in his lap.

"Washington talks to his friends and sends texts on his brightly lit iPhone."


Celebrity "Don't Talk": You mean like this?

Video: Don't Talk: Danny Devito/

John Kelly: Wow. That's good. And if you had Joe Pesce saying it, you know he'd do it.


Signing at movies: I've done this sometimes. I have a cochlear implant but it's still very hard to hear in movies. When I can't hear, I'll ask a question in ASL to whomever I'm with. Signing should not be really a distracting thing. And yes, the Deaf people won't HEAR you if you ask them to stop. They will probably just be very confused at why you are poking them.

John Kelly: Oh boy. Okay. SOME signing is allowed. I can see that Radical Civility may not be as easy to institute as I thought.


Silver Spring, Md: The problem with your Radical Civility plan is that it is inherently uncivil.

The primary benefit of being civil in a rapidly declining civilization is the reward of righteous, if feckless, superiority. By taking arms against a sea of troubles, you drown and are absorbed.

John Kelly: But I think that's gotten us where we are today: the civil among us cowed by the uncivil. That way lies chaos.


re: Priority Seating on Metro: The priority seats are the ones in the middle of the car. But really, if you see that someone needs a seat, you should offer it to them no matter where you are sitting. You don't have to be in the priority seating to do that.

John Kelly: Good point.


Petworth, D.C.: We will also do bad bad bad things to people who spit in public.

John Kelly: Especially if they spit at us in movie theaters.

I saw a guy spit on a sidewalk the other day and I wanted to yell "Swine flu! Swine flu!"


Kudos to Muvico !: Last weekend, my wife and I went to see Star Trek at Muvico at Arundel Mills. We got in at the start of the 22 minutes of previews and had to sit down in the front section. We saw three ushers by the walls and during the previews, they walked around and asked people to put away cell phones. They then went back to the walls. I didn't notice when they left, but they were there when the movie started, but gone by 10 minutes into the flick. And at the end, the ushers stood at both sides by the exit hallways with large bags for people to drop their garbage in.

I stopped to let the manager at the desk out front know how much we appreciate it. Even though they're expensive, I'll go back there for the good stadium seating and the ushers doing great jobs.

John Kelly: That's great. Would I be willing to pay extra for a moviegoing experience I knew was going to be pleasant, where I didn't have to worry about people talking, or toddlers exposed to R-rated fare, or getting beat up for asking someone to please not talk? I think I would.


Falls Church Nit Picker: I def chat during the previews. Mostly things like "He is so hot" or "I love her" or "I can't wait to see that."

John Kelly: I think chatting during the previews is okay, as long as you're whispering and not talking. Unfortunately what I mostly am whispering is, "Man, that looks lame."


Deaf at the Movies: I think there's an underlying question: were they signing in order to better understand the movie, or were they just doing the equivalent of "chatting" through the movie for no real purpose?

Assuming they were discreet about it, it's fine if they were doing it to better understand the movie (for instance, if one could hear and was explaining sound cues/etc. to a deaf friend). It's rude if it was just chitchat. Of course, the problem is: how can you tell?

John Kelly: We obviously all need to learn sign language.


Atlanta, Ga.: I completely agree with you. We have lost the ability to actually enjoy things as they are happening. Like people have to take a picture every two feet on vacation, or they are looking at their video camera rather than what they're actually there to see. Or they are texting people saying: hey, guess where I am. not enjoying what you're actually doing -- you have to tell people about it to make it real. (sigh) I must be getting old.

John Kelly: We all are. Some us us just faster than others.


We can capture so many things in real-time now, save them to microchips and disks, that we don't have to commit anything to our memory. : I find I don't pay attention to things as they happening as much as I used to. I've gotten so used to have a DVR and not paying attention sometimes while watching TV, since I can just rewind it. But that behavior has spilled over into things that I cannot rewind, like the radio... and real life, if you can believe it. I found myself a couple of times reaching for the DVR remote, when I wasn't watching TV.

John Kelly: I think you may have the beginnings of an Adam Sandler vehicle. Oh wait....


Actually, Candidate A and Candidate B: are going to the same orgy. And if it's a Seinfeld episode, the orgy is at the dentist's office.

John Kelly: Talk about an overbite!

Well that's all for today. Thanks for ranting. Once again we didn't solve the problems of the world but we kicked them around a little bit.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and be safe.


Discussion Archives/Recent Columns


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company