It’s rife. I’m actually starting to think it’s contagious. Like smallpox and The Black Death. I can’t seem to get from A to B without it pulling back its lips and snarling at me, sticking its middle finger up at me, honking at me, huffing, puffing, rolling its eyes and shoulder-barging me.
Rudeness is everywhere. It’s the modern disease. And I am suffering from an overload of it. Death (of the soul) by a thousand acts of discourtesy.
Last Saturday was my tipping point.
Pram-haters, car horn-abusers, mobile phone-shouters, rubbish- droppers, queue-jumpers, fist-shakers, loud music-blasters, loud-swearers, competitive parents, public urinaters, car park-stealers and non-smilers
It was a cold day. I was out with my 17-month old son. We ducked into a cafe to grab a bite to eat and headed towards a communal table near the window.
The section of the table closest to the wall was free so I politely asked if the gentleman could move his chair so we could slide in. He made no eye contact and made no effort to move. I waited. Asked again. He stood up; eyes still locked on what he was reading, and made a pathetic attempt to move his chair.
There was no way the pram was going to fit through that gap. I could see this wasn’t working so I politely suggested the three of them (not Gen Y) move up so we could sit at the end closest to us. The woman could barely contain her insolence. “No”. The other man with them was suddenly very interested in looking at the end of his fork.
If I had emptied the contents of a bulging nappy onto their poached eggs I would understand the hostility. But this was perplexing. Was it just because I had a toddler in a pram? I suspected that had something to do with it but didn’t stick around to find out. I was genuinely shocked.
I am empathetic and, putting myself in their skin for a moment, I do understand that my request was no small undertaking. Imagine the horror of losing a whole eight seconds of reading time while making way for a mother and child, it’s preposterous – and what about the sheer physical effort required to move a coffee cup a full thirty centimetres – these are serious commitments and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the seats next to them won’t be bottom-warmed and the salt and pepper will have to come along too and what about the long journey the plates will have to make?
Why was I letting this get under my skin so much? Then I thought about it.
The trouble for us all is that rude people think they are the most important people in the universe. They have their own set of rules. Their shopping trolley has right of way at all times. They have a divine right to every car space. Their conversations are so important we all must be privy to them. They think peak-hour affects them more than us. They have no empathy. The trouble with rude people is that they are everywhere.
In an ideal world pram-haters, car horn-abusers, mobile phone-shouters, rubbish- droppers, queue-jumpers, fist-shakers, loud music-blasters, loud-swearers, competitive parents, public urinaters, car park-stealers and non-smilers would be rounded-up and made to live together. They would live by their own rules in a large underground cave. Far, far away.
Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme – the cave can be nearby – but it has to be heavily guarded.