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Friday, April 14, 2006

The Meek shall inherit whatever is left over

The other day I had a long lay over in an airport - about 4 hours. It took the time to observe some human behavior and social skills. What I've concluded is that people are constantly making decisions on whether or not to have confrontations with others. I stood near the news stand and watched the people in line. Some jackoff in a suit cut in line (he was looking like he was frazzled - in a hurry - very important). The 3 people behind him had obvious displeasure on their faces. They glanced at each other as if to say "what a jerk - we should say something - why don't you say something - I'm not going to say anything - but someone should say something - what a jerk". Of course, no one says anything and the guy goes about his merry way.

These people made some sort of decision, whether consciously or unconsciously, to avoid confrontation. Why? I could understand if he was a 6 1/2 foot dude, wearing full leather, with a menacing burly beard. Then he may look dangerous; he may get mad and hurt me if I confront him. But this guy was a little weasely business geek. But still, no one uttered a word.

I observed this behavior all over the airport. People stop in the middle of the terminal and start fuckin' with their cell phones or baggage. Meanwhile the 100's of travelers trying to walk (some of them hurriedly) down the terminal have to avoid running into them. They are getting in the way - oblivious to how they are inconveniencing others. Yet no one yells "get the fuck out of the way" or even a polite "excuse me, you're blocking the walkway." Why? What is there about confrontation - on any level - that we fear so much.

Everyone knows a person or so that are the exact opposite of these meek people. I have a brother that will say just about anything to anyone. Someone cuts in line: "What the fuck do you think you're doing? Get your ass to the back of the line." He rarely gets into a physical fight with anyone - but he never has to. He, and others like him, know that people are non-confrontational and will avoid it at all costs. He's no great street brawler. He's not very big. But when he confronts people who are out of line they rarely put up much of a hassle. He knows that and confronts out-of-liners without fear of repercussion.

Unfortunately most out-of-liners know how meek people are also. They don't particularly want to fight anyone either but they know they will not have to. They know that If they stop in the middle of the terminal and inconvenience 100 people no one will say anything. They are taking advantage of our meekness. Do they do this consciously or is this some sort of learned, automatic behavior?

I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not afraid to confront people but before I do I give it a lot of thought, planning, and sizing-up. The last thing I want is to get my ass kicked by anyone. I've only been in a half dozen or so fights in my life and none of them were particularly pleasant. So before I say "Excuse me, you just cut in front of me, please take your place at the end of the line" I size them up. Use a little remote psychoanalysis and observation to get a read on their behavior, temperament, and size. If I feel the threat level is low I usually say something in these situations. Nothing rude or confrontation provoking like "Hey Fuck-face, get your redneck ass back in line before I whoop your tail". That would be inviting a beating of some sort. But It's nice to use a little wit, smile, and eye contact to get people to not be such inconveniencers.

People turn the other cheek everyday, in every environment. Look around the school, mall, office, etc.. and watch as people hold back what they really want to say.


Blogger mugwump said...

I'm so imperturbable that I have to actually feign being angry sometimes so people won't think I'm a complete doormat. People usually don't anger me. If it is a situation involving my kids, then that would be different, I guess. I too have a brother who is blunt and irascible and he also will fight if given an opportunity. I had to stop taking him to parties with me because he embarrassed me so badly. He would get drunk and fight every single time. He once beat up three frat boys simultaneously. It was like something out of a movie. I was once interested in one of his friends, but the guy told me he wouldn't go out with me because he was scared of my brother.

3:34 PM  

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