The Newport Beach City Council finally passed its new “Loud and Unruly Gathering” ordinance this week, or as I like to call it, the LUG Law.
The ordinance gives police additional authority to crack down on excessively rowdy parties. Some residents and a couple of dissenting council members objected, arguing that it gives law enforcement too much discretion and runs the risk of infringing on civil liberties.
But why should I care about such high-minded notions as “liberty” and “individual rights” when I’m being disturbed by a noisy, bacchanalian celebration to which I was not invited? Isn’t my right to be free of annoyances more important than a potential abuse of power?
Of course it is, but why stop with LUGs? Indeed, if we’re looking for ways to outlaw obnoxiousness, I’m wondering if the council would consider further empowering the police to curtail some of the other bothersome conduct common among our citizenry. To get you started, here’s my list:
Serial cell-phone boorishness
I was shopping at Fashion Island recently, and when I went to pay I had to wait while the beleaguered sales clerk was subjected to a glaring-yet-typical display of cell-phone self-indulgence by the designer-clad couple in front of me.
As the clerk tried to complete the sale, the man continued yakking on his cell in a booming, self-important tone, while the woman never looked up from the thumbnastics she was performing on her phone. Their rudeness was downright criminal — that is, it should be.
If only I’d had the law behind me, I could have made a citizen’s arrest and spared others in the mall from this scourge. Better yet, I would have notified police, who could have written the pair up for a fine and the loss of cell-phone privileges — or at least receive lousy reception — for as long as a year.
Misconduct at markets
Oh, where do I begin?
There are the louts who sneak into the “15 items or less” lines when they know very well they’re over the limit. The hooligans who block the aisles with their carts are beneath my contempt. And those monsters who try to cut ahead in the deli line definitely need to be held accountable.
I suggest we make the punishment fit the crime. Offenders should be consigned to the longest waits in the longest lines for life, or at least until they’ve proved they can be trusted in polite society again.
Movie theater loutishness
I love going to the movies, but my enjoyment is constantly under siege due to a lack of consideration by others. People who talk incessantly throughout films send me bonkers. The crackle of wrappers makes me cringe. And let’s not forget the reprobates who show up late, then clumsily climb over others to reach their seats.
Though I’m tempted to lobby for the worst kind of punishment for these infractions, I have a more elegant solution. The chattering, wrapper-crinkling, can’t-arrive-on-timers must be relegated to the two front rows and made to watch “Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D” until they promise never to annoy the rest of us quiet, law-abiding moviegoers ever again.
Indecorous gym behavior
People who leave their sweat all over exercise machines should be incarcerated, or better yet, put on restroom cleanup duty.
Furthermore, we should consider installing coin-operated meters on the equipment that some gym rats love to monopolize. And all those who loudly discuss their sexual exploits in a crowded workout room should be locked up and forced to endure every episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
General obliviousness to others’ discomfort.
This offense was epitomized by the lack of consideration demonstrated by another patron at a busy See’s Candies store the day before Easter.
I had waited about 30 minutes in the exceedingly long checkout line. When the customer in front of me reached the register, she proceeded to ask the hapless clerk a zillion questions about the various confections. She wanted to know what a truffle was, and how was it different from the other treats, and what is white chocolate really, and what do people usually like better, milk chocolate or dark, and which are the best chocolate eggs?
She changed her order so many times I was on the verge of saying something completely not in keeping with the season. If only there’d been a law limiting the number of questions customers are allowed to ask when others are waiting.
These include motorists who honk at others who haven’t moved forward within a nanosecond after the traffic light turns green; people who smoke anywhere near my nostrils; and Boston Red Sox fans.
OK, City Council members, now that you’ve taken on the LUGs, I hope you’ll give equal consideration to my list of grievances. Personal freedom is all well and good, but only if it conforms to my idea of appropriate behavior. I think that might be in the Constitution.
PATRICE APODACA is a Newport-Mesa public school parent and former Los Angeles Times staff writer. She is also a regular contributor to Orange Coast magazine. She lives in Newport Beach.