Clash of the Humans

We all see the world from the center of our own universe, from a perspective shared by no one else. For most of us, it takes effort to see things from another point of view, and at times we need our space. Inevitably, when you put two or more people together, conflict is inevitable. It's kind of like we're ants that God put in a jar and then shook up. Here are three recent examples:

1) During one of our breaks at our recent Padre Pio gig, our band got on line for some hot dogs and sausages. We were sent to the other side of the line, which didn't make sense since that's where the cashier and condiments were. One of the ladies taking money got annoyed with one of the guys ahead of us, who was also upset because the guy working the barbecue had sent us over. So we got back on the other end of the line, and ultimately I opted to leave completely. There was too much confusion, and I felt like I was getting in the way of the guests, who really should get food before those of us who were there in a working capacity. I was also feeling guilty taking food without paying. Our band leader told us we didn't have to, but I didn't think it would look right and I wasn't sure the cashier wouldn't expect money. In past years, we'd eaten separately from the people in a small room inside off from the kitchen.

My other concern was one of a....biological nature. Waking up at 5:30 AM, my system wasn't “ready” to use the facilities, and as I wouldn't have a non-embarassing opportunity to do so until I got home around 8 PM, I began to realize not putting more food in me before doing so was probably the smartest move. My dad being my dad, and an Italian, couldn't grasp the concept of a family member not eating. I couldn't very well explain my reasoning in front of everyone, but I came close to shouting it out. “Eat something. You better eat. I don't know why you don't want to eat. You're gonna get cramps later.” He wouldn't let it go, and for some reason got stuck on that “cramps” note, which just didn't sound right for a myriad of reasons. I tried ignoring him. At one point I'm sorry to admit to telling my old man to shut up, not that it did any good. Finally I told him I'd give him my reasons after we got home. “Okay.” he said, “You'll tell me when we get home.” There was about 15 seconds of silence after that before he had to add, “But when you get cramps later, I'm going to say I told you so.”

2) The roads are an excellent source of conflict. People are too quick to honk their horn, and most cars will count the stop of the car ahead of them at a stop sign as their stop, rolling along right on the other car's rear bumper. I often take my life in my hands when I walk at lunch, and I like to take one “teaser” step off the curb when I get a walk sign, knowing full well that the car I'm miming stepping in front of is going to run the light. I've yet to see one stop or even slow down, and if I ever did start to cross, I'd definitely get hit.

On Monday, a lady veering around a corner into a parking lot in an SUV. From my vantage point on the sidewalk along a strip mall, I could see another SUV barreling around the corner, with loud Spanish dance music blasting. It was a narrow driveway, and logically he should have veered right and used the shoulder created by painted yellow lines in front of the stores. Instead he veered left toward her, as she veered left toward me. In slow motion I watched the male driver lean out his window, shaking a fist at her, “Youuuuu F********kiiiing Moronnnnn!” A few minutes later, after the sad lack of Doritos in Subway sent me instead across the street to Dunkin' Donuts, I was startled by honking horns, and turned to see another impatient driver shoot out of a parking lot in front of an inconsiderate driver who had no intention of letting her out. Human kindness is not to be found behind the wheel, far more often than not.

3) Finally, in Dunkin' Donuts itself, I waited patiently at the counter of a seemingly empty store. The manager emerged from somewhere behind me, and leaned in to yell at the girl in the back that a customer was waiting. As she prepared my flatbread sandwich, iced tea, and hash browns, two more people arrived, and another worker emerged to take the next register. After helping the girl next to me with her beverage order, he was oddly terse with the woman that followed. “Are you sure that's the hazelnut?” she asked him, when he seemed to just grab the nearest pot of coffee and put it in a cup. He gave her the barest nod of assent before sliding the cup over, and she reached past the register and grabbed her own cardboard holder. He rang up the order and once she paid, he snarled, “And don't bring that thing in here ever again?”

“Excuse me?” she snarled back.

“That dog. The customers don't like it.”

I then noticed she had some little white poodle thing tucked under one arm.

“That's not my problem,” she said, “Do you want it to stay in the car and die?”

“Don't bring it in again.” he repeated, and she waved him off. He called the manager over and told him the story, and they chuckled grimly. The girl returned with my food and the other worker rang up my order, commiserating with me. “These people...” he said, “But if other people get upset, it is we who get blamed.” I started to echo the woman's concern about leaving the dog outside, if only to calm him down, but I quickly backpedaled as his hackles rose visibly, and modified my statement with, “...but I guess she could have left him and cracked the windows.” At that point, I'd had enough of people clashing with each other, and I definitely didn't want to clash with the people who prepare food for me each week. I found a sunny spot by the window at a small table away from humans, away from conflict, and enjoyed a meal free of stress, before it was time to walk back to the office.

Humans can complement one another but we may also clash, and I suspect life might be less interesting if it were any different.


Blogger Janet said...

I think the driving thing is a big source of conflict, especially on the east coast. Something tells me if we lived in the middle of Kansas, that might be a moot point.

On a different note, I admire your ability to balance blogging and Facebooking. I don't do the meme thing much, but that doesn't mean I don't still have things to say. I'm nothing, if not annoyingly opinionated:)

7/14/2009 10:11 AM  

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