Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sad State of the World...and My Mind

William Smythe is a buddy of mine. Recently he wrote a post about how common courtesy has been forgotten.

I didn't really think twice about what he wrote.

However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that he is right. Common courtesy is dying. Americans...check that...humans do not truly know what common courtesy is anymore.

About a week before school started, my wife and I took advantage of a business trip she had to take and now we are out on the East Coast. This, of course, meant traveling by plane.
Airports and air travel is insane now. Security pushes you through faster than a fast food joint, though they are just as surly. My wife was attempting to get her shoes off (and her belt...that was a new one) while holding our son. I was putting our bags (and her computer, which has to be pulled out and put in a bucket) on the belt. The TSA officer kept telling my wife, "You must go faster, Ma'am. You MUST go FASTER." If you're ever tried to do anything while holding a toddler, you know it's impossible to truly go faster.

I, meanwhile, am being talked about by the woman behind me.
"Could this guy TAKE UP anymore space?" she asked snarkily.
I let that one go. I was more concerned with my wife and son.
"I fucking hate people who just don't know how to fly," her friend says.
Let that one go too.
"Look at the woman with the kid," Snarky now says while indicating my wife. "I bet I sit near that bitch and her brat."
That's where my courtesy ends.

It doesn't take much to look like what I call a "flying idiot." As Snarky started to put her stuff behind mine I positioned my stuff at a slight angle. Then, when the conveyor belt started to take my stuff, I would have to reposition it. If you do it right, then the repostioning forces the first thing behind it to fall off the belt. In this case, her shoes and jacket plopped over the side into dust bunnies.

However, the real issue of common courtesy came at the gate. My son is now walking. At the time, however, he was still learning, so he needed to hold our hands for help. Being that we had a small child, we decided to board early for the first time ever. The three of us heard the call and walked up toward the gate with my son leading the way. Suddenly, a woman with a large stroller cut us off and knocked my son down. Then, as she wasn't paying attention, she ran over his hand. He started crying. The woman who knocked him down turned, looked at him then at my wife and I, and said, "Do something. He's upsetting my daughter."

I lost it.

"Apologize," I said.
"Excuse me?" she said.
"You ran over my son's hand and hurt him. Apologize for what you did."
"No. You should have had a better grip on him."
"You cut us off," I said.
"I was here first. Make him stop crying."
"Apologize or I will make a scene so crass and loud that people here will think you kicked him in the face."
She turned to the attendant and said, "Do something. This man is threatening me."
The attendant looked at her and said, "You did knock down his child. However, sir, you need to stop or I will remove you from this flight."
I took a deep breath when the attendant put her hand on my shoulder.
"Sir, you, your wife, and your son can board first since you're sitting away from this family."
We boarded, but it was a hollow victory. The woman felt no shame about knocking down an infant that wasn't hers.

The lack of courtesy is not just in the airport either

My wife and I took our breakfast from IHOP one morning last week. A woman paying her bill as asked if she liked everything. Instead of saying, "Thank you for asking but I didn't enjoy everything," she called over the manager and started to talk about how (and I quote), "The server is obviously retarded, the food tastes like ass, and your cleanliness is bad." The server asked what she could do to help, and the woman said, "You should quit, because you suck."
We waited a little longer and watched as a guy walked in and took a booth without permission. When the server asked him to move, the guy merely said, "Make me."

There's always the issues with cell phones. A guy in Barnes and Noble was screaming across the room tonight while on the phone.

I love going to the movie theatre, but I think I'm at the point where it's cost and the lack of courtesy from the people around me make me want to stay home.

People rarely hold doors anymore, and today's kids almost never show good manners and common courtesy. Hmm, maybe that's not fair. Some do show it, but most don't.

Then again maybe my issues with the world also stem from myself. I've been feeling like a lousy parent ever since school started back up last week. I have 200 students, so I have to grade. Unfortunately it means my grading has to come home with me. That means a few hours of work at night. My son looks to me to play and be with him, and I can't. That frustrates me.

It's hard to explain. Maybe it's just me. I don't know. I'll try to come back with a stronger, happier thought in my next post.



Arthur Willoughby said...

Wow. Usually I'm tempted to leave stories of my own, but I have nothing to compare. Your airport story is the saddest...and most frightening...thing I've read in a while.

You've graphically illustrated yet another reason I do not have children. The odds are stacked against them. I fear there is nothing two good people can do to impart decency to a child when the whole world fights their efforts.

Good luck, Leab.

cat said...

1) You are not a bad parent. Quite the opposite. You are a GREAT Dad! My sister who is a teacher feels the same way you do, so you have to make some time to play and some time for work. I know it is not easy, I see her struggle for it. I really do not have any better advise on that...

2) You are correct! A lot of people have lost all common courtesy. It is sad really...