This is One of Those Situations

“The difference between rude and inconsiderate is that the inconsiderate often fail to consider those around them, but when you point that out to them, they’re shocked, embarrassed, and apologetic to those affected by their mistake,” Ms. Carnelia informed me. “The rude. They don’t give a Flying Fudd.”

I would considered that profound if, not two months later, I informed Ms. Carnelia that she was standing in the middle of a supermarket aisle while going through her grocery list, “Oh, if they’re in that big of a hurry,“ she said. “They can go around.”

When I reminded her of her Flying Fudd philosophy, she spat, “Fine!” and moved. She moved as if I were a PIA for calling for consistency from her. 

What’s your first reaction to Ms. Carnelia? You dismiss her. She’s a hypocrite. Going forward, you don’t listen to a word she says. I went through that. I didn’t go through that with Ms. Carnelia. I didn’t sit down and ponder. I’m not a ponderer in the moment, but some of the times, little quotes like these keep coming back at you, like a mosquito in the worst part of August. Who cares who said it, I say to you now, if it’s gold it’s gold. If I can use it, who cares who said it. We can all judge them for their inconsistencies, but what are they talking about when they’re talking about it. They’re talking their ideal self. This is who they want to be. Whether they can achieve it or not is on them, but that shouldn’t prevent us from using what they say to try to define our own ideal self.

As with everything else, there is a sliding scale of the considerate. My dad, for example, was my barometer of considerate. He might not have been a shining of example of much else, but the man was the most considerate person I ever met to strangers. To us, he was dad, but he may have been overly considerate to people he never met. He took car consciousness to another level. When we cross the street, say at a stop sign or a quick light, there are some who walk as if the pedestrian has the right-of-way. It’s a fact that the pedestrian has the right-of-way, but a pedestrian doesn’t have to walk that way. My dad would always walk with a skip in his step and a wave to motorists who let him pass. Even when he knew the cars at the intersection would have to wait 45 seconds for a green light, he hurried across the street and waved with a smile to motorists who let him pass. It was a bit much at time, but my dad was a shining beacon of conscientiousness for strangers.

If my dad was a shining beacon of conscientiousness for strangers, we could call him a one on our sliding scale, and Ms Carnelia’s Flying Fudds of the rude a five. I’ve seen more anonymous Flying Fudds from a distance than I’ve ever known, but their motivation intrigues me. Why does a Flying Fudd walk as slow as they possibly can across a crosswalk, with a stop sign, with no wave for motorists? Are they so caught up in their own head that they don’t think of others, or are they purposely rude. “Those cars have to wait. It’s the law.  If they’re that impatient, they can go around.”

One moment after I saw this Flying Fudd, standing in the middle of the aisle, texting, I thought of Ms. Carnelia. I missed the initial, incriminating photo of him standing with one foot on the cart and the opposite cheek hanging lazily off to the left for those of us entering the store to enjoy. I wasn’t thinking quick enough to take that picture, but if I was, and a picture says a thousand words, I probably wouldn’t need this 1,000 word article. 

Mr. Fudd either didn’t care, or he didn’t think enough to care that he forced, at least, five different patrons to snake our way around him. It wasn’t a huge hassle, as you can see in the second wide shot, there’s plenty of room to snake, but the whole idea of a fella throwing his posterior up to those forced to walk around him irked me so much that I ended up taking about a dozen photos of the man. My guess was that the man was a former high school sports star, probably an offensive lineman, whose job it was to force people to go around him.  

We all need to phone, text, or email people in stores. Modern technology has made communication, via devices, almost mandatory at times, but this indulgence should come equipped with its own commandments, and that list should contain all the ways in which we inconvenience, confuse, bother, and ignore the people around us. When, not if, but when we need to text, we should all remember to move to a location in which we bother the least amount of people we can. I don’t know if Ms. Carnelia would consider Mr. Fudd a five on the Fudd scale, but it was one of those situations where we say, “This is one of those situations.”

As you can also see, in the second wide shot, this man’s stay in the aisle was something of a prolonged one, as he was so comfortable standing in everyone’s way that he switched legs. For the purpose of your entertainment, I waited and watched the man. Was he waiting for someone? It turned out, he wasn’t. He proceeded to snake his way around the store solo. Was he waiting for a text to clarify the list of items his wife sent him to the store to purchase. Possibly, but I would be more prone to excuse someone standing in the middle of an aisle waiting for someone than I would waiting for a text. 

I probably should’ve dropped a big, old “Excuse me sir, but do you realize you’re standing in the middle of the aisle? Do you realize we all have to walk around you?” on him, but I’m not one of those people. If I had dropped that on him, I’m quite sure I would’ve realized he was inconsiderate as opposed to rude, but we have to help these people consider more often, right? Is it just me?

If I were in charge of the world, I would hand out hats with grades on them. If one of my subjects displayed acts of kindness and conscientiousness on a regular basis, I would award them with our communal definition of conscientiousness with a hat that had a ‘1’ on it for the effort they displayed in such situations. For those who consistently violate the tenets of our societal protocols, on a regular basis, I would subject them to the scorn that the Flying Fudds should incur for flouting the rules of social decorum with ‘FF’ hats. Neither of these hats would be a life sentence of course, as the ‘1’s could easily lose their crowns, and the ‘FF’s could perform acts of kindness and conscientiousness to work their way out from under these hats, but I would develop a very basic list of consistent and easy to follow rules for everyone.

The problem I would encounter in the midst of my campaign to lead the world to greater conscientiousness would drop soon after I declared my candidacy. Someone, somewhere would locate video on the times (plural) when my wife and I stood in the middle of an aisle, brainstorming over what we forgot to add to the grocery list. We lose ourselves in these moments, and we forget where we are, until we hear the dreaded, “Excuse me sir!” We turn to see a person, or a line of people, with their shopping carts, standing behind us, and we realize this is one of those situations too. We apologize to them, of course, but that doesn’t even out karma, settle the soul, or serve our candidacy. We’re either angry at them or ourselves, depending on who we are. Regardless who we are, we realize we’re not fit to lead the world on this subject. 

Our subjective inclination is to think anyone who stands in the middle of any aisle, for any reason, knows what they’re doing. “They knew what they were doing,” we say depending on our level of impatience. “They knew exactly what they were doing!” Some of the times they don’t. Some of the times we don’t. Some of the times, we get so caught up in our world that we aren’t conscious of our surroundings. Some of the times, we slip up and others write about us our worst day. 

When we’re forced to quick beep that guy who won’t go on a green light, for example, we think they’re either slow learners, far too casual, or hooked on cough syrup. “We got all day here buddy!” we shout from the inner sanctum of our vehicles. “ALL DAY!” When someone offers us that same polite, wakeup beep it drives a proverbial spike into our spine, we know the polite, quick beep. We’re polite, quick beepers. We’re the ones who are so impatient that we don’t give the guy three seconds to move his foot from brake to accelerator. We’re the impatient, so how can we get mad at quick, beeping impatient types? Some people say, “Who cares how fast you get there, as long as you get there,” and when we say this, we’re supposed to emphasize the latter in foreboding tones, as if to suggest if we need speed we might not get there at all. Speed kills. We get that. We’re not suggesting anyone speed, we’re just saying get out of the way, so we can. We realize we’re putting our lives on the line, and we know we’re more impatient than most, but we don’t want to waste one minute of our life waiting for someone on cough syrup to break through their spell.

The thing of it is, we know that we’re all skilled at setting these standards … for others. We can spot an inconsistent hypocrite from a mile away and miss the most important standard bearer, standing inches away in the mirror.  


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