Right now, I'm really angry. I know I shouldn't be. I know each and every logical counterpoint to what has got me so pissed off, but right now, I don't fucking care for that logic. What I'm angry at is irrational, so the way I see it, I'm allowed to be irrational too. Out of respect, I won't discuss the particulars of what has got me so riled up. I mean that I just don't think it would be at all nice to say exactly what happened tonight, I'm sure I'll talk about it candidly sometime in the future, but a good way to summarize the issue is to say that I'm becoming increasingly fed up with the sense of entitlement I see in most people in public.
When people are in pain, the night belongs to them. Unless you count among their numbers, the night isn't yours. You are not allowed to criticize the people grieving. You are not allowed to try and garner sympathy for your separate issues, and you are most definitely not allowed to compound the evening by letting your personal squabbles take over.
You are not the center of attention just because you feel your issue is worth our time. It doesn't work that way.
Self entitlement. What's wrong with you? Tonight I went to a funeral, where people acting selfishly, but it's not my night to discuss, so I won't. However, I see the same disproportionate behavior almost everywhere I go.
Maybe a year or two ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks, reading or writing or staring. The place was packed, absolutely packed. Do you know why it was packed? It was because it was a Saturday afternoon, and Starbucks is a pretty popular, busy place. We all know that. Except for this fucking dickhead:
Some gangly clown walks into Starbucks, takes a look around, and frowns. I noticed him do it, and I imagined that maybe he was meeting up with somebody, and upon looking around, saw that the person hadn't arrived yet. I was wrong. He walked up to the counter, impatiently ordered his drink as if the cashier should have anticipated it fully, and barely finished his request before he asked/ordered, "And where am I going to sit?"
"Excuse me?" The kid seemed legitimately confused.
"Where am I going to sit? All the seats are taken."
If I were this poor employee, I wouldn't have had any idea what to say, and I worked 4 years in a fucking TGI Fridays, where my job description may as well have read, "appease assholes."
"Uh...Well, I mean, we're pretty busy."
The asshole met this with total silence.
"We have some tables available out front."
The man's lip curled in revulsion, "I don't want to sit outside." (Note: This was said as if only sub-humans ever have to venture outdoors."
"Well, I guess you could wait for someone to get up? Some of these customers have been here for a while, so maybe they'll be leaving soon."
Well spoken, well explained. Poorly received. The guy looked downright insulted. Livid. He scoffed. Without saying a word, he handed over his card, paid, and walked out of the store.
That was weird. Really weird. It looked like the guy was walking out on his order...but he had paid. So whatever, I went back to whatever the hell it is I was doing. I was interrupted from it again a moment later.
The door flew open, not as if violently thrown, but rather as though someone massive was trying to get through. It was that piece of shit, and he was dragging with him one of the wrought iron tables from outside. It was a distracting, huge sound. He wasn't fully carrying the table, he was literally dragging it.
The iron was screeching against the tile, and, as I said, the place was packed. There wasn't room for an additional table. If there was, there would probably be another table in there. He had to place it awkwardly in a foot-traffic area. Anyway, the guy went back outside to get a chair. When his drink was ready, he said at the table and read a book. He did so pointedly, not casually. It was clear that he was trying to make some sort of bullshit statement.
What an asshole. What an utter dick. When you venture out in the world, you should know that things aren't guaranteed to go your way. They just aren't. If you want to have total control over your surroundings, stay inside your own place and interact with no one. At all. When you're out in the world, you're subject to the same laws of likelihood as the rest of us. Sometimes you're going to want to drink a cup of coffee and read a book. That's great, I love that. I do that. But when I feel this way, and I decide to go to a Starbucks to do it, I know that I'm entering a building where other people are trying to have a similar experience. Sometimes all the tables will be taken, because a whole lot of people had the same popular idea as me. In that case, all I can do is shrug, and move on. Do I still want the coffee? Well I'm there already, so I'll buy one. Do I still want to read a book in here, sitting at a table? Well maybe I'll get lucky, and I'll see someone pack up their stuff and leave. Barring that, oops, oh well, things didn't go the way I hoped. No big deal, do ANYTHING ELSE, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE.
If it's the employees fault that the place is full, then you're equally at fault for showing up when everybody else decided to be there. It's the luck of the draw. It's random. How fucking dare you try to change the circumstances around you to accommodate your whimsy, your personal preferences. You aren't required here, and you aren't in charge. In short: go fuck yourself.
Without getting too specific, tonight somebody was, through pain, trying to express themself. It was clearly difficult and upsetting, it was hard to do, but they were doing it. That's all that mattered. Someone in the back of the room shouted, "speak up."
You son of a bitch. You piece of shit. Who the fuck are you to criticize someone for trying to speak about something so personal. It was supposed to be a shared moment. No. It was supposed to be a personal moment in confidence, shared with a group assembled for a shared cause. No one grieving needs a heckler. Shut your fucking mouth. If you can't hear him, that's a shame, he isn't speaking for your benefit, he's speaking for his. Maybe you should be sitting closer. Maybe you should have gotten there earlier. This same person had already complained about how long it took him to get there.
Some people just want to be heard. Scratch that. Some people need to be heard. And that's okay in and of itself. Just like most things in life, it's the way that you cope with that need that's important.
I'm a big fan of a podcast (internet radio show) called Tell 'Em Steve-Dave! It's a podcast hosted by three guys from a comic book store in Red Bank, NJ. On Labor Day, Allie was being really awesome by going to that shop with me to watch the guys record a new episode. They had posted on Twitter that they would be doing a few small competitions, and wanted people to come to the shop to watch. Currently, Bobby and I are gearing up a podcast of our own, and so on top of wanting to see these guys I'm a fan of, I wanted to get an idea of what it looks like when professionals do it.
I'd heard them say before that they didn't have a ton of fans, and even though there were only 20 or so other people who went to the shop, it was kind of cool. It felt like a legitimate cultural event. The guys were sitting around the microphones, talking to each other. They didn't engage the "audience" at all. They didn't have to. We were there to watch what we presumably all knew was a private show. We're there for fun, not to participate. Except for one guy. This idiot was sitting in a chair, arms laying casually across the back of it, feet stretched out in front of him, looking cool and casual. With every joke that the hosts made, he would burst out in an obvious artificial laugh. If one of the hosts asked a hypothetical question, he answered it loudly. It became clear that he was desperately trying to be involved in the proceedings, hidden under the guise of enthusiasm. He just wanted his voice on the mic. He would probably listen to the podcast and get a thrill out of hearing his voice echoing quietly in the background. He'd tell his friends. They'd show a vague interest. I hated him for it. It was desperate. And even though it was a pathetic move, I don't excuse him from the underlying narcissism. Who is he to interrupt (or try to interrupt) the show that the rest of us enjoy just because he has some childish need for attention, or an unfounded expectation that anyone gives a shit about what he has to say?
And I hope I hear him on the podcast. He's a warning. He is an example of how not to be.
I could easily blame this behavior on the social-networking-generation, but I think that would be a myopic view of the problem. Realistically, I think it's just another kind of social behavior. It's a social affect. It's not new. Some people are just over-valuing their voice; their opinion. Some people think that it's necessary to make clear their satisfaction or dissatisfaction despite the lack of involvement. Tonight I was sorry to see a heavily significant event be somewhat tarnished by people over-extending their opinion. We don't need to hear your criticism, we don't need you to smile awkwardly because you're uncomfortable here, and we don't need your bullshit personal issues to get in the way of our collected emotion.
We are not so enthralled with you.
We are all in the same boat, even you, and when you make clear your dissatisfaction, your discomfort, you are embarrassing not only yourself, but the rest of us.
I fear I'm getting vague again. And I don't mean to do it to attract attention, I'm just so incredibly anxious about these things. Tonight was just another example of a widespread problem. Like I said, to blame Twitter and Facebook for making us all feel like our opinions are essential is absurd. Twitter and Facebook are invitations to express ourselves, not archives of uncontested genius. They are places for debate and conversation.
I'm sorry if this feels like the equivalent of posting "Some people really piss me off" on Facebook, and I hope that I've given enough real-life examples to satisfactorily express myself. I'm just feeling bleak. Like people won't give each other an inch. That no one's really listening, just planning how best to respond. On any other day, I could have written about these jerks comedically, but I'm viewing them through a filter of blind anger right now.
In case you haven't had enough of them, here's one quick final prime example of this self obsession:
I took a class on public speaking a few years ago, and predictably, pretty much everybody in my class was an egomaniac (either positively or negatively), myself included. Everybody had something brilliant to say, and everybody else was just surely waiting for their turn.
Well anyway, this one particular day, our professor was talking about his weekend, which involved some mis-communication between himself and his daughter. It involved his cell phone glitching out and behaving oddly. To help explain his story, the professor interrupted himself, and asked the room at large,
"Do any of you know how a cell phone works?"
A woman sitting next to me raised her hand and answered,