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In the new etiquette, you’re gonna have to get over yourself

February 18, 2011

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah your needs

In my online wanderings, I read a blog comment the other night about rude people on planes, who, in the process of getting settled and putting stuff in the overhead bin, displace this woman’s perfectly folded blazer with their junk.

The blazer was shoved back in with great insensitivity, and now the woman was outraged, filled with umbrage over the casual disregard shown toward her and her possessions.

I laughed, cruelly, at the naïveté of her umbrage, and started writing a long, sarcastic response before I stopped and realised I was wasting a perfectly good rant on someone who will likely never see it and benefit from its Truth.

The woman who wrote the complaint is possibly my age, and mourns the loss of etiquette. In her fantasy world, there was a time when kind fellow travelers would notice how carefully your blazer was folded; would then carefully wrap their hands in tissue paper before they touched it, and would ask your permission before they moved it, refolding it if they messed it up.

Okay, right now, my head is spinning like in that scene from The Exorcist where the little girl spews gross green glue. The combination of ridiculous assumptions contained in that woman’s complaint exposes a) the extent to which she’s out of touch with reality; and b) the discrepancy between today’s etiquette and the fantasy etiquette of Yore, when fewer people existed on the planet and no one invaded your personal space.

Let’s start from this one poor woman’s narrow perspective of Reality and work our way out to Postmodern Social Truth, shall we? Going point by point, we shall analyse and assess her expectations and assumptions, exposing their inherent falsehoods and weaknesses, and show that she’s a twit with her head up her posterior. Further, we shall create new expectations, based on what people actually think these days, not what you think they should be thinking.

Weep ye not at the perceived rudeness of others

Rule #1: Get Over Yourself. Everyone is stressed beyond their capacity to function and, at the same time time, be nice to you, a complete stranger who means nothing to them. Think about the underlying reason you feel like you’ve been abused: your coat was treated badly and now you feel stepped on. This fact tells me that your needs were ignored in childhood by your parents. Right off the bat, believing you’ve been singled out for mistreatment indicates you need therapy, because you have unresolved issues, and are a danger to the rest of us.

Postmodern Reality #1: Why Are You So Damned Needy? Anyone who transgresses upon you looks down on you for having needs in the first place, and is thinking, You poor, sad, pathetic woman, your blazer should be made out of a synthetic material that won’t be affected by rough treatment, and what are you doing putting it into the bin before everyone is settled anyway??

Rule #2: The Individual Is Unimportant. Guess what, Blazer Lady? Your focus on your own needs in a group situation pisses me off. It’s not your damned plane, and no one is being rude to you just because they overlooked the importance of one item in a sea of other equally meaningless items. Your blazer might be your Precious, but we are not reenacting The Lord of the Rings and you are not Frodo.

Postmodern Reality #2: Obey the Hive Mind. In a group setting, group consciousness takes precedence, and you, the individual, can whine, moan and complain all you want, but that’s what blogging is for. You want to rant, get a blog, but your umbrage better be more interesting than mine, otherwise, get off my bandwidth. You fill me with inertia.

I know this is hard to hear

Rule #3: You Buy It, You Carry It. This places the responsibility for anything you bring with you firmly in your own hands. I am not responsible for your stuff, and you are not responsible for mine. Anyway, in the case of a water landing, they’re not gonna let you bring your stupid “blazer,” so quityerbitchin’, cause no one else will get to keep their stuff either. This is precisely why you never travel with anything you can’t afford to lose.

Postmodern Reality #3: We All Die Alone. This is a simple, but profound, Zen Koan, and to fully understand its import, you must read it over and over, preferably backwards, until it becomes a mantra leading to Enlightenment. Until you get that we all die alone, you won’t realise how profoundly unimportant you and your blazer are to me, and how my indifference reflects Deeper Truths about why I am ignoring you in the first place.

To wit:

Life is more stressful nowadays than any of us can handle and remain polite, and you truly do need therapy if a wrinkled article of clothing represents something that’s important enough to complain about, since none of us might get off this piece of tubular tin alive.

Planes are a metaphor . . . the reality they represent is how we’re all squashed together on this earth and have to make the best of coexistence in cramped quarters.

The incident of the Wrinkled Blazer reminded me of the woman who was clearly off her meds on a train to Edinburgh I took at the end of last year. Apparently, it was Her Train, and she was therefore fully within her Rights of Umbrage (get a blog) to be upset when other travellers had the audacity to enter Her Train and put their shabby, worthless crap on top of her More Important Stuff.

Now, all of this happened because of linearity. This would never have happened if all time coexisted simultaneously, so ultimately, I blame Newton for what transpired.

In linear time, she was the first person on the train, and that means she was the first person to put her bag down in the space for bags. After that, it’s entirely possibly she never considered the overarching facts of the situation, all of which speak to the limits of the time-space continuum.

To wit:

“This train is shared by many others who will enter the compartment after me, who might also need to store their bags, because verily, the train shaketh from side to side, and there are few places to store one’s bag. The Theory of Gravity implies the likelihood that their bags will land on top of my bag. But it’s all right, because we’re all going to the same place, and my bag of medications will be fine at the bottom of the pile. When the time is right, Grasshopper, my bag will reemerge, safe and warm from its protection at the bottom of the pile, all will be well, and I will get out with everyone else on this noisy, cold, unpleasant train with the connecting door that refuses to stay shut, letting in freezing December blasts of winter, and go shiver for an hour in a taxi queue waiting for the next available cab.”

After taking her medication

BUT NO. None of us sharing this compartment knew that this was Her Train, you see, and so we were in the wrong.

Like a neighbor’s rabid terrier digging up your prize petunias, the woman got a bee in her bonnet approximately half-way through the trip, possibly missing her meds, and started throwing everyone’s CRAP off the pile. This invasion included the bag containing The Precious, aka my laptop, the evil bitch. The whole time, she complained about our lack of etiquette, that there was a time when people knew “the rules.” These were magical rules only she knew of. Me and this other guy calmed her down and convinced her to go back to her seat, looking at each other over the top of her little terrier head, our eyes rolling, thinking Postmodern thoughts about Truth, Injustice and the limits of psychiatry.

And that, Best Beloveds, is why people who travel without their meds must be stopped before they get on a train or plane. This is not something the TSA checks for, but they should.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. diane oggoian permalink
    November 20, 2013 6:07 PM

    ha ha ha, what a great rant!! I nominate you for Upcoming Curmudgeon Geezer of the Decade. I suggest you write an Etiquette Book. It would have very few pages, therefore, people might actually read it.

    • November 20, 2013 7:27 PM

      Hysterical! If you love me, even virtually, tell all your friends to join in my Curmudgeon Club. We shall beat people over the head with our canes together!

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