This morning, for me, it was a paragraph in a local news story about a construction project on one of Northampton's main arteries -- Elm Street. The six-week project involves digging a utility trench across the street, an effort that is likely to foul traffic.
Besides all the information you might expect in such a story -- why, what for, etc. -- this paragraph was tucked in:
Signs posted at the construction site ask workers to keep noise to a minimum, not swear, not smoke, and not engage in any improper conduct.Noise? They're digging a trench for heaven's sake!
Swearing? Oh drat, shucks, heck, darn...! Will they pass out Shakespearean sonnets that construction workers can declaim during coffee breaks?
Smoking? This city has been clamping down on "second-hand smoke" and the damage it can do and it is nice to live in a 'caring' community that is willing enough or self-important enough to legislate open air, but whatever will happen to all that grisly, icky dust that digging a trench is likely to kick up?
Conduct? Public sodomy is probably frowned upon (was there an epidemic and I missed it?) and whistling appreciatively at passing women can be considered pretty déclassé and public urination wins no blue ribbons, but what are they going to do about all those workmen whose shirts do not sport an embroidered alligator, polo rider or swoosh?
It is all one indicator of my hometown and as such strikes me as infuriatingly precious.