Every so often, I am struck by the lack of basic manners displayed by some people, many of then in their early 20s. They don’t offer a seat to an older person or they cut in front of others in line or they don’t consider that their actions may affect people around them. They talk loudly. They don’t move over a little to allow two-way traffic on the sidewalk. Sometimes, people don’t seem to notice they are sharing the space with other people. They focus on their smartphones or otherwise ignore anyone they don’t know.
A couple of things have happened to me recently that brought this to a head:
- I was walking along the sidewalk – staying on the right-hand side to give room for others coming toward me – on the way home from work. A bus stopped near me on the left. One person who was on the bus cut in front of me, forcing me to slow down. He was talking with his friend who was behind me – so, he stopped to wait for his friend – causing me to stop, pivot and go around him. There was room to the right, as it is a wide sidewalk. He could have taken a step or two to the side so that I could pass, but instead he not only didn’t notice my existence but really didn’t care. It’s not like this was a major thing – I went around and got home without any appreciable delay. It’s the principle of the thing.
- The shuttle bus to work is often crowded, yet there are always some people who have their bag on the seat next to them … and don’t move it until specifically asked. Now, I have taken public transportation of one kind or another for the past 30+ years, so I’m used to all of the annoying commuter behaviors. I’ve even been known to put my bag on the seat next to me, though move it when the [train/bus/shuttle] starts to fill up. But not moving your bag is just obnoxious when there are obviously going to be people standing because of overcrowding.
Before drifting too far into the “get off my lawn” mindset, I realize that we are all careless sometimes. Usually we recognize this and give (at least) a mumbled “sorry” and accommodate the other person. It doesn’t hurt us a bit to recognize that we have been self-absorbed and didn’t notice the other person or that we didn’t mean to crowd them out. I’m sure this has happened to most everyone.
The challenge is when you don’t get the “sorry”. There is something about having someone treat you as invisible that is disconcerting. It’s that basic lack of acknowledgement that is dismissive and disrespectful. It’s a little thing and usually I just let it go, but somehow these things seem to come in bunches. One day, I literally asked myself if I was invisible because it happened multiple times!
What is irritating (and a little frightening) is that some of these people will end up taking care of me when I’m too old to care for myself. Hopefully, they will mature before I’m 80 – they have about 26 years to become more attentive people. Maybe as they have children and their parents’ generation gets older, they will notice others more and be a bit more accommodating. Of course, by then we’ll probably have drones dropping off our medication and robots offering care. I can see it now: under cause of death it will list as a contributing factor “caregiver too busy tweeting” or “robot otherwise engaged”.
ADDED: I feel better after my rant! Thanks for listening … you were listening, right? Is anyone there? Am I invisible again? If I am, I hope that new bottle of wine is invisible, too ….