Sunday, 4 October 2009

Is Rudeness the New Epidemic?

Fresh off of my foray to the Kosher supermarket, I honestly didn't think that arrogance and rudeness could get any more blatant. We have all been faced with unacceptable behaviour from time to time, but I am starting to wonder if it is getting worse, or if it is simply my imagination. We instruct our children to treat each other with respect and dignity. We teach them how to share, how to lose gracefully, and we teach them to use appropriate words when confronted with challenging situations. And all of that seems to fly right out of the window when adulthood hits. Rush Limbaugh, Kanye West, Glen Beck and the like seem to have forgotten the lessons of their childhood. Road rage is an accepted part of our lexicon and the incidents of traffic anger are on the rise. A friend of mine recently posted this letter from her son's pre-school principal on her blog that outlined the outrageous and boorish behaviour of some parents. I was stunned, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. We are seeing examples of disgusting lack of manners and sense of entitlements everywhere we go. At a recent performance of their Broadway play A Steady Rain, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig actually halted their scene in order to implore a rude patron to answer his ringing phone. I suppose that he thought that the message to turn off cell phones, that is a standard section of every performance, was for everybody except him!

I see it all the time. I haven't made it through a service in years without a cell phone clanging, in spite of our constant pleas. My trip to the grocery store was just the tip of the rudeness iceberg. Yesterday, I once again found myself smack dab in the centre of middle-aged tantrum.

I very much wanted to see the new Michael Moore movie last evening. The Husband and I were out earlier in the afternoon with friends and we all decided that we would head over to the theatre to purchase tickets for the 7:10 show. Given the fact that we were a full 2 hours early, we decided to procure the tickets and then go to the bookstore across the street for a coffee and some browsing in order to kill some time. An hour later, we were back at the theatre only to discover that we were still about 20 minutes ahead of schedule before the previous showing let out. We sat munching popcorn at a nearby table and then, as we noticed the people streaming out of the theatre, headed over. We were told by the very young ticket taker that the workers were cleaning the theatre, and could we please form a line to the right. Dutifully, the six of us followed directions and found ourselves at the head of what would very quickly become a substantial queue. As we chatted and waited to enter, a more than middle-aged guy comes over to the poor ticket-taker and starts railing and wailing at him. He and his wife were here long before any of us, and at that time there was no line. He absolutely and very loudly refused to line up with everybody else, and demanded (DEMANDED!!) to go to the front of the line. The only thing missing from this sixty year old's tantrum was the stomping of feet and the holding of his breath until he turned blue! The poor adolescent comes over to us and quietly asks us if the squeaky wheel can have his grease, and could he please take our place in line. Well, I lost it. I had been pushed around one time too many, and egged on by my friends I said a loud and firm NO! I told the boor that we had been there just as long as he had, probably longer, and we had our time-stamped tickets to prove it. The people behind us were none too happy either. Where did he get off thinking that he was owed the prime spot in line, simply because he yelled the loudest? Not only that, the theatre was not full. There were plenty of prime seats for all, no matter where you were in line. I stood my ground. Maybe it was the experience at the grocery store the day before, or maybe it was the sight of a kid being bullied by an adult that riled me, but I was not going to allow this asshole preferential treatment. The manager came over and quietly told the boy to take the boor's ticket while he dealt with the rest of us peons. We entered before him, but he still won his point ahead of 50 others.

The Husband remarked to me afterward that it was somehow ironic that Michael Moore's film dealt with an innate sense of entitlement and here we were witnessing that supposed privilege first hand. I am trying to understand it. I cannot for the life of me comprehend what it is that makes some people think that they are on this planet alone and that they deserve it all. Can anybody please explain to me from where that selfishness originates? It certainly wasn't what I was taught, nor was it what I taught my children. Are we doomed to forever treat each other with rudeness and disdain, or is there hope still for the boors of the world? I am quite aware that it probably would have been easier for me to capitulate and shut up, but it seems to never end. This guy has probably never been challenged on his behaviour before, but at least he would have one memory of a group of strong souls that refused to be bullied by his act. Score one for the good guys.


  1. Check out the Star's article today on rudeness at Toronto City Council. And let's not even think about Question Period.

  2. I agree Dawn. If we don't begin to stand up and use our "voice" then we are teaching our children (of all ages) that it is okay to be marginalized. bell hooks states that "Refusal to stand up for what you believe in weakens individual morality and ethics as wel as those of the culture ("all about love" p.91) but I am sure she was not referring to the bullys out there!

  3. Hi Dawn
    Next time go to Sues market for 3 fruit/veggie items..just make sure
    you don't drive into the cars parked in the fire zone in front of the stores.....entitlement parking spots!

    By the way..that Sobey store goes thru store managers every year. I have been told by Sobeys itis their most difficult store to manage in Canada. Why do you think that is? [rhetorical question]

    I enjoyed Capitalism..a love story....The crimes are outrageous and the hurt even more so.
    At the theatre, tell the husband to take some balls out of his popcorn and add some verbal shit to the mix and stir.

  4. "North American culture, which holds individualism as a central value, tends to foster the development of antisocial behaviour, to a much greater degree than it would in China or other more group-centered societies" From The Sociopath next door.

    Our culture tends to encourage traits of narcissism.

    Michelle B