That Guy: Hall Monitor

This week’s nomination couldn’t have made a stronger case if he had hired The Lincoln Lawyer, Matlock, Perry Mason, and Cochran all on one team. This guy is first ballot Hall of That Guys, a unanimous confirmation. He’s all around us, butting in wherever someone is innocently living out their lives. Sometimes he’s nothing more than a stern look or an unsolicited scolding. Other times he may go so far as to confront his convicted transgressors or alert the authorities to do it for him. Whatever the degree of that guy’s vigilante justice, it’s unnecessary, unproductive, and unwanted to everyone except himself. That’s why this week’s that guy is the hall monitor.

Allow me to take a moment to clarify. When I talk about hall monitors I’m not talking about narcs or snitches. Those are separate categories and will likely receive their own columns at a later date. A hall monitor is a distinctly different intruder. Hall monitors possess all the same disregard for individual sovereignty as a snitch, but take it one to several steps further. Unlike a snitch, who only acts as messenger for the authority, hall monitors believe they are authority. They see themselves as anointed within society, trusted to step in wherever crime is occurring but the people actually chosen to enforce it are nowhere to be found (probably because there’s no actual crime being committed). Like I said earlier, sometimes the hall monitor is the enforcer of recycling bins being left out past trash day, sometimes they’re the ender of children’s lemonade stands because an 8 year old didn’t think to get a permit from the health department before they started slinging powder mix Minute Maid. Both equally victimless crimes, both equally malicious in the eyes of the hall monitor.

As much as social media would have us believe hall monitors are an epidemic of the 21st century, they’ve been plaguing society for long before. Your neighborhood watch associations, homeowner’s associations, two organizations that legitimized the act of one stranger hall monitoring the life of another stranger. After all, does leaving the garbage bins out actually harm civilization? I wouldn’t say it does, but ask a hall monitor and they’ll tell you how today it’s garbage bins, tomorrow it’s nuclear annihilation. To them the slippery slope of man’s demise isn’t a steady gradient with plateaus and turnarounds, it’s a sheer drop we’re all teetering on the precipice of, susceptible to demise at the slightest deviation from abiding behavior. Thus, the hall monitor stands guard at this cliff face, warding off any potential doom bringers who might fling themselves and all of mankind straight off the cliff of reason.

Only that’s just it. No one asked the hall monitor to stand watch. No one thanks that guy for berating the Block about their garbage bins, local officials don’t convene award ceremonies to honor that guy who makes sure the owner of every unleashed dog is raked over the coals, and people sure as hell don’t feel safer in their homes when that guy shuts down a barbecue that has nothing to do with them because “you can’t have fires here.” The only person who condones that guy’s behavior is that guy. He is his own manic cheerleader for his lunatic lawman.

Like the common cold, we’ll never truly be rid of the hall monitor. All we can hope to do is meet his harassments with the only proven remedy for busy-bodying, scoff. If you’re confronted by a hall monitor for such capital offenses as leaving your shopping cart in a parking space, just ignore him. Nothing disarms that guy faster than taking all the wind out of his sails and making it perfectly clear his tantrums have no effect on your behavior. All he’s really looking for anyway is an acknowledgment of his deeds. He doesn’t really care if it comes from the person he’s harassing or the Nobel committee. Granted, it’s a little hard to ignore someone who’s calling the cops on your kids for a bootleg lemonade stand, in that case the best option is probably for you to go ahead and whup that guy’s ass. There are after all, exceptions to every rule.

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