What goes around, comes around

People often treat each other differently in bars then they do when they are in any other public place. Maybe it’s the alcohol or maybe it’s the perception that something different might happen in a bar. I’ve heard the phrase “if they ever said that to me in bar” many times in my life, with the assumption that things would just escalate from there. In fact, a common trope is the “defending my wife’s honor” justification for a brawl. Just FYI, it is not, but just try telling that to someone in bar. And if you do call someone else’s wife a disparaging name in a bar, there are many people who might just think that you will, or should, get what you deserve. Again, to be abundantly clear, the law would not be on your side in that situation.

Behavior is often situational. I remember marveling, as a kid, at how different circumstances created different behaviors in people. In particular, I remember how people in their cars would react to other people in their cars differently than say if those two people were pushing grocery carts around in a grocery store. They called it “road rage” back then, and it really only ever happened on the road. Nobody would have even thought of screaming at someone up close and personal, or giving them the middle finger to their face, certainly not at a supermarket, and certainly not without the expectation that something bad might come out of it. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how that has changed. Something has definitely changed, and I don’t think it has changed for the better.

Recently I was at a drive up self-service car wash. I had rented a moving truck and needed to spray off the dust from the city dump before I returned it. The stalls were all full and I was fourth in line. A twenty-something was in one of the stalls washing a winged, tinted, hotted up, something or another. He had actually finished washing it and was now going through what looked like chamois cloths in his trunk, one at a time, even stopping to pick little bits of lint from each one. This went on for about 5 minutes before the guy in the car at the front of the line honked his horn and pointed at the sign that read, “No bucket washing if other cars are waiting.” The twenty something gave that guy the middle finger. The car behind the first car then honked his horn too.

“You know, you could do that over there,” said the guy in car number 2, pointing at eight empty spots reserved for doing exactly that sort of thing.

The twenty-something gave him the finger too.

Just then another stall opened, and the first car pulled into it. The twenty something kept picking lint off his towels and then began to slowly and meticulously dry his car.  Another stall opened and the second car pulled up and began washing his car. The third car now honked his horn and pointed at the sign.

Another middle finger.

When I got to the front of the line, I didn’t honk my horn, because, after watching what happened with the first three people, I figured it would only slow things down. I tell people as a bartender, never tell someone else you are waiting for their spot. I have never seen that speed anything up.

I was the last car waiting, and as I finally pulled into another opening stall, the towel drying/finger giving guy decided that now he was done. He got into his car and pulled around, passing all three guys he had given the finger too. For good measure, he did it again.

The last guy took one look at his meticulously dried car and then sprayed it with his hose. Twice. That kid got out of his car and walked towards him in a very threatening manner.

The kid stopped and then looked at all of us watching and said, “Did you see what this asshole just did?”

“We did,” I said finally. And we all saw what you did too.”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-When an irresistible force hits an immoveable object, does it then complain about it?

-If you want to yell at someone without them yelling back, or hit someone without them hitting you back, or insult them without them insulting you back, it’s not about rights, it’s about taking advantage.

-Does being a jerk to a jerk make you a good person?

-Stores, restaurants and yes, even car washes, have started having line monitors because apparently, we adult Americans can’t seem to handle it for ourselves.

-That kid gave me the middle finger too.

-And I returned it.