Monday, October 12, 2009

Rude People

Rude People
A 2000 word essay written to the 8th grade level so even this guy can understand it!

Maybe it's just me but when I was a kid in grade school - it seems like all of us kids were told it was rude to push your way to the front of the line or bully your way around the playground. I guess there were always some people who weren't gonna get the memo.

We were taught, "No jumping in line, no crowding, no talking over people... be polite, ask permission, let others go first" Now that is the instruction we got in Kansas.

Then I moved to the Deep South - where "Southern Hospitality" sometimes takes on a completely new meaning. Generally, people everywhere are really polite - decent individuals. Sometimes you run into real jerks.

This last weekend, I had a double-header at an air show I attended.

As a part of the media, I get in early and stake out a spot along the flight line - usually with a few other photographers. We watch each other's backs and each other's equipment. There is a lot of money laying at the feet of three or four photogs at any given show and we don't need to chance an unnecessary repair.

So as usual I found a spot along the line, six or seven other photogs show up and we are relatively safe between the rope and a nice Stearman parked between us and the crowd.

To my immediate left was a super nice family who also wanted an unobstructed view of the show, a husband and wife and their three precious children. All of us sorta became friends as we baked in the morning sun and waited until the show started at 1:00.

Now - as working pro - even with friends watching our backs - we tend to not wander off to eat, visit the port-o-lets or meander through the crowd. It’s just not in the job description. We’re here and this is where we stay.

About 1/2 an hour after the show started, a guy with a nice Canon camera and a short (useless) lens, pushed his way around in front of the kids to my left, put his chair down on top of the lady's foot and called for his family to do likewise. As they pushed their way into the small area between the family that had been there all day and the rope line - I stood up and told the guy he had to move. Of course he didn't want to and said as much... not politely either! He said it was as much his right to be there as anyone else.

Of course, it is his right to be at the air show as anyone else... but not crowding in front of people to do so.

After a few words were exchanged, he moved his family back behind the people who he had rudely jumped in front of - and that was the end of it. The woman thanked me for standing up for them and I said it was the right thing to do. She said she felt helpless and didn't know what to do. It angers me when people are rude and these nice folks didn't deserve this guy's rudeness.

Fast forward about an hour. The wife needs to take the kids to a party, so the dad asks me to save his place while he walked them to their car safely. It's nice to see a gentleman taking care of his family! so I said "sure - not a problem."

While he was away... and while I was preparing my cameras for the next performer, a big guy (taller than me by at least 6 inches) - sorta dumb looking - pushes his way to the rope line in front of the chair my new friend had left and since I wasn't facing forward, he even started encroaching on where I had been standing. This guy was there with his six or seven year old son and the two of them took up some space on the flight line.

Now normally, I don't say much to kids who crowd in - I figure they are just products of bad parenting and since they are short... and I'm pointing my lenses into the air... it's not that much of a problem. Its a bit dicey in that they don't understand the concept of a $10,000 camera rig or what it would do to one if it were knocked over, but so far I haven't had to deal with that.

This guy though was old enough to know full well he was selfishly pushing his way to the front and picking a spot where he thought he wasn't going to get much resistance. ... Me!

You have to understand - the other photogs on either side of me were taller than I am. This guy didn't want to take on anyone who he couldn't look down to. Another factor I believe played into this scenario - was his apparent latent racism.

You see - bullies are also usually cowards. This particular coward looked at the three guys I was shooting with and decided he wasn't going to push his way in front of three black guys. There it is - the guy wasn't going to take on any of these guys, when a perfectly good short white guy was available. So here we have, standing in front of me, a racist, rude, obnoxious, tall, stupid looking white guy with his son in tow.

So I told this jerk he needed to move - that it wasn't right to push his way in front of people who had been there all day and that he was blocking their view and in my way as well. All of the guys shooting with me stood shocked that this guy was such an obnoxious jerk... they also didn't know how far I was gonna go to defend our turf.

This jerk let out a barrage of whining unlike anything I've ever heard a mature adult ever utter. It was obvious from the first sentence he'd used this excuse before and that his mama had let him get away with it. We've all heard whiners like this since grade school and this guy was in his 40s! He finished his diatribe with "I have as much right to be here as you do so leave me alone!"

I told him he needed to leave and I didn't want to hear any more of his Bull Shit. He wouldn't budge.

While all of this was happening, I was missing the FA/18 series - particularly the portion I was there to shoot - the high-speed pass with vapor bursts. Needless to say, I was pissed! But resigning myself to the fact this jerk wasn't leaving - I went back to shooting what I could when his head wasn't in the way.

Did I mention he complained I used the BS word in front of his son? Did I mention his son was begging his dad to leave because it was too loud and it was scaring him when the FA/18 would go by? The dad ignored the constant pleading of his son - by this time he was there to make a point and his son didn't matter to him. Poor kid held his fingers in his ears and stared at the ground for the whole show. Maybe the kid inherently knew his dad was being an ass and couldn't bear to watch.

When the FA/18 was done, the kid kept begging to leave while the jerk said they were going to stay and see what was next. The good thing is - the kid begged long and loud enough to start to make a scene in front of everyone else so before the guy put his camera away, he took the opportunity to try to pick another fight with me - trying to justify his actions and ended it with telling me I had no GD right to tell him he couldn't stand anywhere he wanted.

Now - I think the F-bomb is bad... but the GD bomb is nuclear! I immediately turned to the kid and told him to remember his dad in church the next day and remember his actions today.

The jerk went ballistic. He said "OK - that's enough, you're gonna pay for that, I'm gonna get someone over here to set you straight, you aren't going to talk to my son like that."

and he and his son left...

All of us standing there, along with all the people around us who heard what went on, breathed a big sigh of relief that he was gone and everyone commented on what a jerk he was.

and we all went back to shooting the air show...

About five minutes later, the jerk was back, with a big uniformed officer of the law at his side. The cop was visibly upset with me due to what the jerk had told him.

I looked the officer in the eye and told him exactly what had happened, pointed out all of us photographers were credentialed media and had been there all day long when this guy pushed his way in front of us. The cop looked at all of us and everyone nodded to the veracity of what I had said. The cop took his hand off his holstered gun and proceeded to tell me this jerk had every right to see the air show too. I agreed with him but pointed out he should have gotten to the air show early enough to stake out his own spot on the flight line and not crowd into people who had been there all day. He said he understood my complaint and that he just wanted everyone to have a good time at the show. I acknowledged his good wishes - and he took the jerk off about 20 feet away and started to talk to him. I suppose he was explaining to him that he was in the wrong and that he shouldn't have bullied his way in front of other people.

While the officer was explaining all of this to the jerk... the kid started crying - evidently thinking his dad was about to be arrested. Interrupting the officer - the jerk started yelling at me that I had made his son cry and that I should really feel good about doing that to his son. I turned around and just looked at them as the officer tried to finish what he had to say to the guy.

And I went about my business shooting the air show. A line from an old movie came to mind - "what is behind me, is not important".

It still bugs me that this guy did what he did and tried to justify himself for doing so. It is outrageous behavior and embarrassing at least. The race card being played subtly and the bully persona combined with a whiny "victim" mentality reeked of spoiled mama's boy.

And there you have it - the composite of a rude person.

Maybe I should have been more gracious. Maybe after baking in the sun all day - I should have been more patient. Maybe after giving up the freedom to get lunch, buy some water, take a whiz or look at the static displays - maybe I should have just cowed down and let this jerk run roughshod over everyone there.

All of the other photogs just shook their heads at his belligerence. One even said that this was typical of the people who live in the area... redneck rural Georgia. I think he may be right - but I’ve seen similar behavior at other events across this country...

Viktor E. Frankl said in "Man's Search For Meaning" (page 136-138)
'From all of this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two - the "race" of decent man and the "race" of indecent man. Both are found everywhere, they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people."