It was a teaching moment, to be sure. I was standing near the exit of a local Target with my boys and talking to a friend when a very large woman whirred up to us in her “Jazzy”-style motorized wheelchair and motioned me out of the way. No please, no thank you, nothing but a little angry gesture. It was rude. It was entitled. It was, sadly enough, nothing unusual these days.
Within a moment, as she was buzzing out the doors, a young store manager and a younger security guard sprinted from the registers to her side and yanked her up out of her chair. Everyone turned and stared, being as how running in a department store can usually mean one thing: trouble. As she walked, perfectly capably, under her own power towards an unseen office with someone at each side, Heathen #1 asked “Daddy, why are they leading her away?” My knee-jerk thought process wanted to reply “Because she’s a fat, rude, entitled p.o.s. who manipulates a faked handicap into a distraction for her larcenous behavior.” But good sense took over and I told the boy that she was being taken to the back because she tried to steal from the store. The girl from the coffee counter confirmed my suspicions and said that that was not the first time this woman has done this. Apparently, it’s something of a habit.
All this got me to thinking about what’s going on these days when it comes to my least favorite characteristic in a person: entitlement. From Joe Wilson’s outburst, to Kanye and Serena’s wacky antics, apparently civility has been replaced by tantrum-esque outbursts from all corners. According to an article I was reading on ABC News, “‘There is an increasing coarseness to American discourse,’ columnist George Will said. He blamed our impulsivity and rudeness on a ‘culture of entitlement‘ where we celebrate ’emotional exhibitionism’ on football fields, cable television, and the Internet.” I see this everywhere, from the Garfield the Cat sweatshirts on nasty methhead moms proclaiming “You want attitude?” to some of our patients insisting that we’re interrupting them in the middle of a reality show on tv, when THEY are the ones who called 911 in the first place. In other circles, these are the people talking loudly on their cell phones in restaurants, those who park in fire lanes in front of the grocery store and recline their airline seats into my knees EVERY. DAMN. TIME. In general, these are the people who behave like the line-cutters you remember from your early school days.
Who teaches this kind of behavior? Why is it tolerated? What parent in their right mind allows their kids to wear sweat pants with “Juicy” written on the butt? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? I’m not advocating Puritanical behavior, but it sure would be nice if the person making my coffee didn’t roll their eyes at me the whole time, as though I am requesting major invasive surgery as opposed to a cup of drip. I wish society would tolerate ME slapping that person and telling them to knock it off. On a related note I also wish I could choke people like Darth Vader did, just by making the choking motion in their general direction. THAT would be a righteous way to restore the balance of civility between mainstream society and me. At the very least I could make a significant impact on the apparent shoplifting epidemic at retail locations in the greater Springfield Metro area.
Until that time, I remain suspicious of people in motorized wheelchairs. But to be fair, I’m reasonably suspicious of everyone, especially anyone wearing Garfield sweatshirts.