So my best friend and I got a day out to see a movie. Even though the movie I wanted to see (An Education) was no longer playing at the “arts” theater, we decided to slum it a little and go see something popular: Sherlock Holmes. I was actually pleasantly surprised with it. It was fun and entertaining. But that’s not the point of this blog.
As we were getting in to the car, I heard an old man say something to the effect of, “What do you think of that change?” I couldn’t help hearing him as he was quite loud, but I figured he was old, and I’m rather used to old people talking quite loudly to one another. After all, he was with his wife. I figured they’d probably just gotten out of the movie and were discussing it. I mean there certainly were changes between the storyline of the books and the movie.
I didn’t realize he was talking to us. Neither did Eee at first. I was already getting in to the car when I heard her ask if he was talking to her. Turns out he was. However, I still thought he was trying to engage in a conversation about the movie. I thought it odd, but after living in Florida, surrounded by the elderly, I’ve learned they can be quite quirky. I mistook quirky for rude.
After only a moment, Eee was quicker on the uptake. It dawned on her that he was referencing her Obama bumper sticker. She told him she was proud to have supported Obama.
Now, I know my friend Eee can be a bit, well, confrontational at times, especially at the movies. She has this knack for picking seats in front of people who talk through the entire film, or who spend it getting up by grabbing the back of her chair, or kick her seat constantly. At the last movie we went to, we got stuck in front of a few middle aged women with their kids. Not only did they talk quite a bit, but two of the kids kept getting up and down and up down. To add insult to injury, the youngest girl, who couldn’t have been more than six, fell asleep across the seats, but somehow managed to do it with her foot up against Eee’s chair. Her foot kept twitching. She showed amazing restraint (considering past movie experiences), but finally had to lightly touch the girl’s leg, wake her up and ask her to stop kicking.
This time she was 100% completely innocent of the attack that ensued. It went something like this:
Old guy (waving his hand disdainfully): “You don’t know what you are talking about. Obama’s ruining the country.”
Eee (absolutely dumbfounded): “I cannot believe you are yelling at a stranger. I would never yell at a stranger in a parking lot.”
Old guy (getting angrier): “If you weren’t so stupid”
Eee (holding in her temper and trying to be really polite): “You should be ashamed of yourself for yelling at a complete stranger.”
At this point, Eee got in the car. But not to be outdone by the little girl he obviously expected to take his verbal flaying, Old guy yelled out, “You and Obama can go to hell.”
Thankfully, Eee didn’t hear that part. She’d been holding back out of respect for her elder, but had she heard that, I think she might have been tempted to sink to his level. And his level was just icky.
Now, I’m not trying to start any sort of political debate here. I don’t happen to care which side a person voted for. No matter what a person’s beliefs are or how strongly they believe them, there is no excuse for treating another human being (especially a stranger) so shoddily. Rude behavior like that certainly isn’t going to convince anyone on the other side of the political fence their side is right. The only result an attack like that can have is anger and the only reason to do it is because someone is an absolutely ignorant asshole.
Poor Eee was trying to figure out why in the world this guy decided to pick on her, but using my Sherlockian deductive skills, I think I figured it out. First off, he was old, and for some reason, old people seem to believe that by virtue of being old, they get to say and do whatever they want with little to no consequence. The fuel to his fire of opinion entitlement was no doubt two youngish girls getting in a little, fairly environmentally friendly car. He probably figured we’d be weak, easy targets. Eee wasn’t supposed to “fight” back in any way. She was supposed to listen to his abuse and take it. When she did point out the inappropriateness of his behavior, he got mad that the uppity bitch had the nerve to defend herself. Had her boyfriend, my husband or any of our other male friends been with us, I somehow think his mouth would have stayed closed. He may have secretly wished hateful things on us, but I doubt he would have vocalized them.
Yelling at a stranger in the parking lot, is not only rude, it’s cowardice. Either engage people in a political debate in a respectful way, or keep your damn mouth shut. People don’t have to agree with you in order to deserve your respect. People can, in fact, whole heartedly disagree with you and still get your respect.