This post was originally published on May 9, 2014.
If you’ve ever attended a 12-step meeting or three, you’ve probably experienced the profound irritation of being forced to watch someone do something distracting, distasteful or just plain obnoxious while you and everyone around you tries to mind your business and trying to catch some recovery. Here are five of those somethings.
1) Texting, talking or doing pretty much anything with your phone
In addition to texting, this includes emailing, or checking Facebook, or browsing Instagram, or checking your email… Just seriously, dude, try to put your phone away. You’re in an AA meeting, for Christ’s sake. At least do a passable impression of not scrolling people’s status updates every moment and realize that your inability to unplug for one measly hour could actually be affecting the serenity of people around you.
2) Eating smelly things
Being in a room full of sober alcoholics is confining, kind of like being on an airplane. It’s a crunched little space and there’s not much room, so your chair is awkwardly pressed against the leg of the chair next to you. Hence, when you bust out your foul-smelling tuna sandwich and proceed to chow down obliviously, you’re offending everyone’s nasal passages, near and far. It’s gross, please stop.
3) Laughing with friends
There’s nothing more disconcerting than hearing people in the audience laugh while you’re sharing or speaking in front of a meeting. It brings you right back to the high school cafeteria, or —ugh—giving a painful horrible very bad no-good speech in front of your whole English class. Even if you and your girlfriend are just giggling innocently about spilling a coffee or something equally dumb, that laughter makes everyone else think you’re potentially scoffing at them. They’re narcissistic alcoholics, remember?
Yeah, they generally announce the “no cross-talk” policy at the beginning of most meetings nowadays, which generally helps prevent people from thinking it’s okay to do. Sadly, that doesn’t mean everyone listens! Talking back to the speaker or whoever is sharing throws off the energy of the entire room; it’s rude and disrespectful. If you have something to say, raise your hand like everyone else, or save it for post-meeting.
5) Falling Asleep
It is, admittedly, easy to get tired during meetings. Especially when you’ve only gotten, like, four hours of sleep due to all the raging fellowship action you got into the night before. But try, really try, to stop yourself from drifting off during a meeting. If your head starts drooping and dipping to the side, either get up and fetch a cup of gross burnt coffee or go home and sleep. It’s that simple.