Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 412: Regressing to the Mean

A lot of people are just... mean.

Years ago it seemed to me we started to become a nation of jerks. I saw it within six months of 9/11. I had fallen on hard times, and to earn money I took a job working in a pizza parlor. Between jobs where I made 70k a year and 55k a year, I made $7.50 an hour, plus tips.

We had an arrangement with a bar down the street to provide pies when the customers needed food. One sunny winter afternoon I ran a delivery down to the bar, and the outdoor tables were full. The patrons were loud, rowdy, Parkie-types. Clanking their beer bottles, talking too much and at too great a volume. To get in the door I had to navigate this crowd. One blond-haired dude with a toque was texting and smoking... oblivious. I needed to get by him to get into the establishment.

I said "excuse me" and he langorously tore himself away from his device and looked apathetically at me. Slowly, slowly he dragged his legs out of the way so I could pass.

It was a brief moment. But I felt right then that the terrorists had won. Just a few months before in the days and weeks after that terrible day, we were wounded, but we also knew that we needed to be in this together.

That day I knew that the spirits of tolerance and togetherness were dead. These people didn't give a shit. They just wanted their beer and smokes.

And look at what we've become in the last 10 years. We're selfish, we're greedy. The Wall Street abuses encapsulate everything that is wrong: it's all about get yours, and screw everyone else.

Not many people look out for one another any more.

Be realistic: How many people do you really trust out there? How many people do you KNOW who are real friends? REAL friends?

Instead, today we have a culture built on selfishness and stepping on anything or anyone to get what you want. This weasel-y dude I used to know used to have in his Twitter bio a note that he "wasn't responsible" if he offended you.

It must be nice to give yourself carte blanche to be a dick without repercussions. But I'm not going to live in a world where people think that their right to be obnoxious overrides my right to call them out on it. Yes, especially on 4 July I am grateful to live in a country where you are allowed to express yourself completely. That doesn't mean you are allowed to be a jerk, though. Well... yes, you're allowed, but when I shun you, don't wonder why.

I hope this prevailing atmosphere is reversible. And I hope it doesn't take another disaster to band us together. Because that would suck.

1 comment:

  1. Heh... well, it didn't take long to get confirmation. Oddly, this makes that job prospect in Austin even more appealing.