One of the rudest tendencies here in the “tolerant” Bay Area is that so many people here feel the need to wander up to complete strangers in public places and tell them exactly how environmentally, socially, or metaphysically incorrect their current set of actions are.
It’s not just in Berkeley…
I’ve had the occasional stranger wander upto me and inform me, for example, that smoking is unhealthy and dangerous. After being flabbergasted by the presumptuousness of the first two or three pompous asses, I started responding with something along the lines of “so is walking upto complete strangers on the street and offering unsolicited criticism when you don’t know how violently they might react.”
It’s amazing how well that usually works…
What’s with this assumption that gentle, intellectual prodding will somehow make the cretins of the world suddenly realize the error of their ways and rush to mend all adjacent fences? Why must the granola crowd be so fucking wimpy and schoolmarmish? They leave me embarrassed to be a leftist. Why not call an asshole an asshole?
Here’s a hint: gentle reminders about the environment and consideration for others are not going to matter much to that yuppie swine who used three spaces to park his urban assault vehicle. However, a note containing a forceful reminder about how accessible and fragile his windshield are just might.
And a reminder: telling the woman who scolds you for looking in the meat case at Safeway to “shut the fuck up and mind your own business” is going to get rid of her much faster than some long-winded explanation of how you need extra protein in your diet, blah blah blah…
We need fewer people quoting sociology dissertations and more people using terms like these:
- Brain-dead frat boy (each should be capitalized if you’re discussing the President).
- Self-righteous bitch (replace “bitch” with “prick” as needed).
- Fucking idiot (wonderful all-purpose terminology).
Yes, I’m suggesting that rudeness be used to combat rudeness in some cases. Most people who are being assholes are quite aware that they’re doing so and won’t react to any other response. And those who don’t know they’re being assholes should be made aware of the fact, not made to feel that they’ve “won” because you were compelled to “defend” yourself.
Don’t get in a fight, of course, but also don’t assume that a response like “please stop damaging my self-esteem” or “perhaps you should be more sensitive to my needs” is going to gain you much ground outside the ever-flaky Bay Area.
Yes, I realize that I might well be much happier in New York, where people mind their own business. I’ve never reacted well to scolding…