Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Death of Manners

I got a kick out of this article by Henry Alford on the decline of manners in NY (some people think there never were any manners to begin with). Alford has a tactic by which he apologizes to the people who were rude to him in the hopes that they will realize the error of their ways. It is very funny because they don't.
Alas, I do not have Mr. Alford's patient, pedagogical disposition. My tactic is to counter with a murderous stare and a sharp EXCUSE ME? or even a WHAT THE FUCK?
I once got an entire glass of ice water spilled on me by my next table neighbor at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I was totally soaked. The guy didn't say moo. He blithely continued chatting with his friend as if I did not exist. In instances like this, what I feel like doing, instead of didactically turning the other cheek as Mr. Alford counsels, is to harpoon the offender on the spot. To bash his brains out with a baseball bat, a la Al Capone in the Untouchables. That's how.
Most recently, I sat on a flight from Mexico City to JFK. The family in the row in front of me had two very fussy kids who screamed bloody murder intermittently during the entire flight. The parents were not effective at controlling them. I was surprised that having enjoyed the company of my darling Mini-Enchiladitos nephews the entire week, I was ready to strangle these two little pests a la Lady Macbeth (except wide awake and in full possession of my faculties). But that was not the worst part, since one understands that sometimes there is no reasoning with children. I was sitting next to a couple that simply did not have a concept of personal space. The guy next to me was fidgeting and moving and falling asleep on top of me and behaving, once again, as if I wasn't there, so I moved to another seat across the aisle that was empty. The owner of the window seat gave me a nasty look, but too bad, buddy. If you want to claim the row for yourself, you need to lie across it. Otherwise, it's finders, keepers.
Then finally, when we were able to leave that freaking plane (it takes people longer and longer to remove their shit from the overhead bins), and we were standing in line for the immigration officers, the couple, who turned out to be Israelis, were still on top of my hair. Not standing behind me in line, but right next to me. Breathing down my neck. Getting. On. My. Personal. Space. The woman was wearing a nicotine patch and demanded to speak to a manager. She demanded that there be more officers attending to "the customers", as if this was a supermarket line. Take it up with George Bush, lady, I wanted to say, but we all just snorted back at her. The Delta lady told her to zip it, it's the federal government you're talking about and you can get arrested (oh, I so wish). I wish I was like Henry Alford, but that would have made my day.

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