Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Space invaders

The other day, I was enjoying a perfectly wonderful little breakfast at El Gallo De Oro, one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall (that's a compliment, by the way) restaurants in West Tampa. Eggs, yellow rice, chorizo sausage, Cuban toast and coffee. Wonderful way to start the day. I like West Tampa because it really is a convivial family community, where most people seem to know each other. That actually worked against me on this particular day.
As I'm sitting there and enjoying my perfectly wonderful breakfast, some guy at a nearby table came over to share something with the people at the table right next to me, turning my view to this:
Pray tell, what is the proper etiquette when you need to express "Excuse me, could you please get your ass out of my face?" or at least "Please don't fart on my bread"? I don't think it would be out of line to express concern about either or both of those things. Of course, I didn't do anything. I tried to be classy about it by staying calm and patient, hoping he would figure it out and either adjust or move completely away. He didn't and I never said anything, so I guess I deserved what I got.

Then, the other night I was eating dinner at Miguel's, a local Mexican restaurant when two families who know each other bumped into each other and had an extended reunion... at my table.
These aren't great pictures; they're dark and blurry and it's hard to tell, but there were about eight people in the merged group and they all hung out there and caught up on what sounded like a couple of years worth of updates while I tried in vain to enjoy my chips and salsa in peace, again not saying or doing anything about it other than waiting for them to figure out that what they were doing was obnoxious.

I can't say these people or the guy above are rude. I think they're inconsiderate. It never occurred to them that what they were doing might be impacting anyone else. Why would it? After all, they are the beginning, center and end of their own personal universes. To be alerted that other people even exist, let alone that those people might regard an uninvited occupation of their personal space as a source of discomfort, would probably be a huge surprise to them.
In my opinion, that's worse than being rude. At least with rude people, you know where you stand. They're rude, that's their deal. But with inconsiderate people, who knows what they're capable of?
A rude person will aggressively cut you off in traffic. An inconsiderate one will just kind of drift in and out of lanes of traffic as the mood suits them.
A rude person will push you out of the way to get a jug of orange juice at the grocery store. An inconsiderate one will leave their cart in the middle of the aisle while they read the labels on all the jugs of orange juice.
Rude people don't care. Inconsiderate people lack the self-awareness to make that kind of statement.

Of course, the real variable in all of this is me and my reaction to it. That's the only thing I can control so maybe I'll change my reaction to things like this in the future.

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