More Rude

I didn't think I'd be adding to my ”more” list so soon, let alone that “rude” would make the cut. But I'm coming to a sad realization.

I braved 34 degree weather to walk to what I like to think of as the Sopranos pizzeria, since the staff resembles the cast far more than any other pizza place near my office. It's one of the smaller establishments, a nice one near a beach I like to walk to when I'm neither freezing nor sweating. As I waited in line, I noted that there were only two tables free, and I hoped the people ahead of me were placing orders to go.

Finally, it was my turn. I ordered a pepperoni roll and a buffalo chicken slice, and watched the guy place both in the oven. I walked over to the refrigerator to grab an iced tea while I waited, and decided to put my jacket on one of the empty chairs to reserve a spot. Somehow, it didn't seem enough, so I got some napkins as well as a plastic knife and fork, and set a place for myself. Satisfied, I made my way back to the counter.

The pizza man opened the oven, and removed its sole contents, a pepperoni roll and an impossibly green buffalo chicken slice. “No...not BROCCOLI...Buffalo...” I said, with a tinge of disappointment. “Hey FRANK! What'd you do with the chicken slice?!” Frank came over in a huff, opened the oven, and looked confused that it was empty. It was like they'd performed a magic trick. They both looked around the crowded room in confusion, trying to figure out who had my slice, which was of course the last slice of that variety. “You wanna wait a few minutes?” asked the guy. I looked at what was left, and opted for a barbecue chicken slice instead. It was close enough, and there were two of them, so if more magic transpired there'd still be a backup.

As he put my slice in the oven, I looked back across the room at something I subconsciously caught when we were scanning for that elusive buffalo slice. Sure enough, three middle-aged men were sitting at my table, one guy in the chair on which I'd left my jacket. I marched over, and leaned in, the guy's eyes bugging out in confusion and indignation. I grabbed my jacket, and he leaned forward as I yanked it free. “What...where's...where's my jacket?” he feigned, looking about and seeing his jacket on the chair next to him. I just shook my head at the nerve. Meanwhile, one of the pizza guys brought over a tray with my pepperoni roll, and set it down on a table occupied by a lone old woman. “You can start with this he said.” I placed my jacket on the chair, and kept an eye on both chair and food as I got myself new utensils and napkins.

More and more, it seems like it doesn't pay to be polite, to be the guy who always waves people on with a cheerful “after you!” I still recall a school picnic years ago, a young MCF standing at a buffet table shoveling cookies into his mouth before his mom yanked him away by the wrist, pointing out that he should save some for others, and also that it was gross to have my crumbs falling on a tray that other people would be taking food from. I still think she was right, but I've found the majority of people in this world aren't courteous, and aren't thinking of the next person. People cut in line and cut ahead in traffic. When I was buying my tripod the other day, I was called to an open cash register when someone who was at another register with a friend stepped over and took my spot. Another cashier became free behind me, but the person who was behind me in line stepped over. I was lost, and considered going to the back of the line again or simply giving up on my purchase, but then the next person in line asked if I was ahead of him, and I pointed out that I was. There are polite people out there; we're just in the minority.

I even see nerve in my gym parking lot. There are clearly marked spaces, as well as areas with diagonal yellow lines indicating no parking. There's parking on the street, as well as painted sections of curb where they don't want you to block the sidewalk or get too close to the driveway. People park across those lines, and park in front of the walkway. I usually park in the street just short of the no parking zones, and on nights when I get out early, I usually find myself blocked in by people who've squeezed in to the little space left in front or behind my car. On Wednesday night, it must have taken me about 10 or 11 swings to get out of my spot. I'm not the best parallel parking judge to begin with. Of course, the worst offense occurred on Tuesday night when I looked down and noticed someone had spit his gum out in the shower. At least I saw it before I stepped on it barefoot, but people are still nasty. Suddenly, the rows of open lockers and towels discarded on the floor instead of the basket didn't seem as bad, although that crap annoys me too.

A selfish world view is inevitable. We are each the center of our own universe, and it takes effort to attain empathy and put ourselves in someone else's shoes. I think that's why most people, myself included, always deliver a “thank you” with a note of pleasant surprise. No one can believe that someone is holding a door, or waving us ahead in line, or letting us change lanes in traffic. We're conditioned that we have to take what we want because that's what everyone else seems to do. It's rare that someone gives us something. I wonder if it's just a New York thing, if people are more polite in less crowded areas. The environment may be partially to blame, a region where we need to push ahead to survive, lest we be trampled. I know in my rare travels out of state, I've always been suspicious when a driver waves me to cross the street, and waits patiently. I always take a few cautious steps before breaking into a jog for the opposite side. As the holiday season approaches, I know this aspect of human nature is only going to increase in public, so I'll just have to muster up my patience and brave the storm of rudeness.

Or maybe I need to start doing some shoving of my own...


Blogger b13 said...

You are too freakin' nice. You should have sat with the 3 idiots at the table and then "accidentally" spilled your soda all over the place.

11/20/2008 12:51 AM  
Anonymous MCF said...

My point exactly. I need to work on that.

Good thing I didn't leave my drink on the table too; I probably would have found the guy drinking it, while using my knife and fork and sitting on my jacket...

11/20/2008 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

I can't believe the nerve of those guys. B13 is right you should have sat down with them. I however would never have had the nerve to do that if I were in your situation.

11/20/2008 8:27 PM  

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