Glenn and I were at a Florence + the Machine concert at the Palladium once. We were standing in line at the bar behind some ladies who were clearly having a good time. Up walks a tall man who starts chatting them up. They look a little perplexed. I smell douchebag.
Me: Excuse me. Do you know these ladies?
Mr. D. Bag: Uh… (stammer-stammer-looks at floor)
Me, to ladies: Do you know this guy?
Girl, bemusedly: No
Me: Line starts back there, buddy.
Mr. D. Bag: slinks off looking a bit perturbed and cursing under his breath
This sort of thing tweaks my ire. Cutting in line is a tiny example of the many ways that people feel entitled to take advantage of others’ politeness or unwillingness to speak up for themselves. The rules don’t apply to these assholes. They’re above that. They analyze the system and know how to work it to their advantage. They bully. They have no concern for how their actions affect other people. Or worse yet, they revel in it.
The effects of this sort of assholery extend far beyond me being one person later to get my damned drink. I’m guessing that Mr. D. Bag has made plenty of people’s lives suck, to a greater or lesser degree. Maybe he was the bully on the playground. Or maybe he was the kid who egged the bully on behind the scenes, never fighting his own fight but always the one responsible. Ms. D. Bag (assholery knows no gender) might be the person who cut you off in traffic this morning or stole your idea at work and passed it off as her own. She might be the person who has 5 Moscow Mules at Bolsa, then gets behind the wheel (because remember, the rules don’t apply to her) and kills someone.
Where do these people get the idea that they can get away with all of this shit?
In part because trusting, kind, good people let them.
It takes energy and strength and vigilance to stand up to bad behavior. I fancy myself a crusader for good, but I have days where I just think that it’s all too much and I don’t have the energy for a fight. Many of us are too polite or too tired to call people on their shit. Or we want desperately to believe that people are good and have the good of others in mind, so we ignore those warning signs that say “this person is not healthy” or “this person is up to no good”. Let’s face it: If Bill Cosby abused women for years, there were many people in his orbit who looked the other way, or even assisted him.
We don’t want a fight. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if we’re wrong. We want to play peacemaker. And in so doing, the bad guys win.
Every day, there are big heroes and little heroes and every kind of hero in between. Most of us will (thankfully) never be called upon to be the big hero, to rescue someone from a burning building or shield someone from a bullet. But we can be little heroes in our own way. By standing up for ourselves. By standing up for those who are being abused. By saying “FUCK YOU!” to the bullies and takers and showing them that their behavior isn’t welcome in our world.
Be your own hero. And when you say “FUCK YOU” to the assholes, do it in the most polite way possible. It makes them really nervous.