Tuesday, April 18, 2017

People Behaving Badly - and Folks Who Defend Them

Civility and Politeness no longer exist in our society, and no one mourns its loss.  We jump to defend people who make shitty life choices - choices that impact the rest of us in a negative way.

I received a lot of flames in response to an earlier posting.   For some reason, people don't "get" when they are being baited by the media, and they defend bad ideas all down the line.  The stupid "dragged off the plane" story is a case in point.  We are all supposed to be outraged, and like Pavlovian dogs, we all slobber on cue - on Facebook, of course, the world's largest Skinner box.

One fellow argues that the "69 year old doctor" didn't have a choice!   See my previous posting about villagers.  The media is using weighted labels like "69-year-old", "doctor" and "Vietnamese refugee" to influence the story.   However, some media outlets have reported that the fellow is barely a doctor and has a checkered history with law as well as the medical boards.   The same fellows who defend him say, "Well, his past history isn't important!"

Really?  Then why do the articles defending him all characterize him as a "69-year-old doctor" who is a "Vietnamese Refugee."   After all, someone's background is irrelevant, right?

Let me break this down for you in terms even a Facebook subscriber can understand.

If you come to my house, and I ask you to leave, you should leave.  If you don't, I have the right to call the police and have you ejected.  If you are injured by the Police during that ejection, well, that is kind of your fault, ain't it?  I mean, after all, you had a choice, and it ain't your house.

The same is true if you were in my car, my boat, my restaurant, or my airplane.  You don't have a "right" to stay when I ask you to leave.

Not only that, you have a choice in the matter.  And a good choice is to leave when asked to.  A shitty choice is to raise a fuss, delay the flight for everyone, and end up dragged off the plane.

Your choice.   Not a mandate, a choice.

And that is what this blog is all about - your choices in life.

So if you expect me to get all weepy about this guy, you've got another think coming.  Because if I did that, I would be externalizing, blaming the "big corporations" and playing that stupid stoner game of feeling sorry for myself and others, and going off half-cocked without knowing the other side of the story.

And it is a pretty simple story: It ain't your airplaneAnd he had a choice, and chose poorly,

On the other hand, it was mutely reported in the news today that a young couple flying off to Costa Rica for their wedding was thrown off a United Flight when they tried to sit in upgraded seating without permission.  Once again, we'll never know that the real story was, but the key thing is that when the flight attendant asked them to get off the plane, they complied.   Rather than raise a fuss and be dragged off a plane that wasn't theirs, they said, "OK, we'll leave" and they took a later flight.  No compelling video, no lawsuit, no outrage on the Internet.   But of course, if you want to generate outrage, I guess we all now know how to do it!  I predict there will be many "copycat" incidents on airlines with people trying to set up "outrages" on Social Media.

Oh, wait - there already was one.

Life is all about choices, even when you think you don't have any.   And most people make shitty choices and then blame their outcomes on external forces - externalizing.   They refinance their house to pay off credit card debts and they say they hate the "big banks" for making them do it.   Well, they don't say that exactly.  They say they hate the big banks for getting a bailout or charging them a bounce fee or an ATM fee or whatever outrage du jour is in the media this month.

But the real reason they are pissed at the bank is that they made shitty life choices and don't want to confront them, but rather blame someone else when it goes wrong.

Marketers know this. Politicians know this.  People who want to manipulate you know this.   So they use your outrage against you - to distract you from what you are doing wrong, so you keep making shitty life choices and they clean up on those refinancing fees, bounced check charges, and ATM fees.   The banks don't care if you hate them - they know you are going to use them anyway.  What's your other choice?  The check cashing store?   If you externalize your shitty life choices onto the bank, all the better for the bank - because you don't stop to think about changing your life choices, and they keep making money.

The airlines are the same way.   They want you to hate them, they really don't care.  For the first time in decades, they have sustained record profitability.   That's why I bought airline stock (Southwest) and don't fly that much.   Let's face it, flying sucks.  Why do things that suck?  As I noted in an earlier posting about airline miles, one mega-flier (who was forced to fly for business) donates his airline miles to charity and takes a write-off.  "Why on earth would I want to fly when I don't have to?" he said, and it makes sense.   Flying is about as much fun as having a colonoscopy.

And the problem isn't necessarily the airlines, it is people like you and me who demand cheap fares and behave badly on the airplane.  Not a day goes by without some story of someone being a jerk on the airplane.  A stag party getting drunk on the plane and getting thrown off (they left when asked, by the way, no one had to drag them off.  They weren't that drunk as to be utter assholes).  That sort of thing.

But even "normal" behavior is atrocious.  People gather at the gate an hour before flight time and sit around nervously.  You can smell the anxiety.  Myself, I sit at the bar across from the gate and freaking relax.   Then they call boarding "rows 1-5" and people with boarding passes clearly marked for row 50 jump up and rush the gate.  What's up with that?   Why are people so afraid of missing their flight?   It ain't the end of the world - although the media makes it out to be, every time there is a snowstorm and flights are delayed.  It is merely an inconvenience.

Once aboard, it gets worse.  People bring "carry-ons" that clearly are too large for the overhead - and attempts to police this are met with outcries from the same people who defend this idiot on the United Flight.  "I have a right to take a steamer trunk on the airplane!" they cry.   I saw someone bring a wedding cake onboard once - and not in a box, either.  All three tiers of it.   What's next, chickens and goats?

Oh, right, we already have dogs, cats, and "service animals".   Don't get me wrong, I like that part.  I like animals.  Other people don't - and might be allergic.  But nowadays, everyone has "rights" and no one has responsibilities.

So anyway, the reason why the Row 50 guy wants to sneak on early, is that he wants to put his bag in the overhead in first class or row 1 of coach.   Why?  So when the plane touches down, he can race forward, grab his bag, and be the first one off the plane!   He wins!   This is another idiotic aspect of modern living - people want to "win" at everything, from getting through the toll booth first, to getting ahead in line at the supermarket, to finding that coveting parking space.   No one says "you go first" anymore.  No one holds the door for an old lady with luggage.  I've got mine, jack, you get yours!  I win!

Flying, like driving in the city, brings out the worst in human beings.   And it is because we are crowded together more.   No one respects personal space, which is a particular pet peeve of mine.  Part of this is cultural - some folks from other countries will think nothing of walking inches from the person next to them, behind them, or ahead of them.  In America, we are used to a little more personal space.

But even Americans are giving this up.  "Line Humping" is the worst aspect of this.  You are at the line at the ticket counter or at the TSA screening, and people bump up behind you as if proffering to have anal intercourse (no thank you!).   They literally "hump" you again and again in the line, as if somehow that makes the line go faster.   I even had one family try to pass me in line at the TSA as they felt I was taking out my laptop "too slowly" even though there were five people ahead of me waiting to go through the screening machine.

Again, part of this is the anxiety people have going through screening.  It seems airports are a place that you cannot relax anymore, even in the sky lounge.  Everyone has clenched jaws and is anxious, angry, and in a hurry, even if they have an hour before boarding.   The atmosphere is not conducive to relaxation, with horrible acoustics (loud and echoing) and PA announcements, particularly the recorded kind about watching your bags - reminding you that your plane could blow up in mid-flight or that a teenager from Minnesota might shoot up the departure lounge any moment.

Flying - what's not to like?

But while the airports and airlines have their share of blame in this, it is the people who are really to blame.   You see, line-humping isn't limited to standing at line at the airport.  I see this at the bank, supermarkets, stores, etc.   In fact, at the grocery store, I usually have to put my cart behind me, so that the fellow behind me doesn't "line hump" me.  Even then, he pushes my cart, causing the wheels to hit me in the ankles.   Even though I have 100 items to be checked out and the belt is full, he needs to, right away, empty the five items in his cart onto the belt, even if it means my ankles are now bleeding from the cart repeatedly being slammed into my legs.

And if I say something about it?  I'm the asshole, right?  Because his needs, even if imagined are more important than mine, which are real and bleeding through my socks.  I tell you, it ain't worth leaving the house anymore.   This is why I live on an island.

But even on the road - especially on the road - you see this.  Tailgating is the new norm.  "Get out of my way!  I'm a motorist!"  And people will drive a foot off your bumper even in a passing zone where they can safely pass, because they don't think that going five miles over the speed limit is fast enough for them.   Fortunately, the wheel of karma spins quickly for these folks, and on our way back from Hilton Head, we were gratified to see not one, not two, but three aggressive drivers who passed us at a high rate of speed, get pulled over by County Sheriffs in Georgia.   I thought all you Yankees knew about Georgia speed traps?  Out-of-State tags + 10 mph over the limit = ticket.   Hope you can figure that one out.

And of course, the funny thing is, when we stop for lunch or gas or at the rest stop, we always see the speeding aggressive driver who didn't get there any faster than we did.   When you factor in a half-hour stop for that speeding ticket, he gets there later.

Oh, but right, the same folks who defend boorish behavior on airplanes and whatnot will defend the speeder and aggressive driver.  Everyone has a right to drive over the speed limit, right?  And we all know that cops are assholes and that tickets are just to "generate revenue".   You see how externalizing works.  The fact you pay more per month for car insurance than I do for a year is the fault of the police and the evil big insurance companies!

I drive the speed limit and pay about $50 a month for car insurance.  What's your rate?   And yes, when I was younger, I made shittier choices and paid thousands a year for car insurance and railed at the unfairness of it all.  I sobered up and realized that while the system might seem unfair, I did have better choices to make, and I started making them.   And my life changed dramatically as a result.

Defending boorish behavior and shitty life choices is, well, something you can do on Facebook all day long.  That is what Facebook and Twitter are for - getting outraged at life instead of looking inwardly and thinking, "what could I have done differently in this situation?"

It is like these incidents - again captured by edited cell phone videos and spread on "social media" of people being abused and in some cases killed by the police.  We are never told about the choices the individual made that started the chain of events that lead to their injury or death.  And usually that chain of events starts with a person refusing to be arrested, which you simply cannot do.  If we make arrest optional, well, then you might as well abolish the police.  And no, you Libertarians out there, that is not a good idea either.
So ask yourself, "What could this guy on the airplane done differently in this situation?" and the clear answer is, "get off the plane when asked to, and take a later flight."   The entire tempest in a teapot would never have occurred but for his shitty choice which set off a chain of events.  The worst that could happen is that he would be late for work the next day, which according to some sources, is a temp job anyway, after he lost his license to practice.  But you know, many people have important jobs, and I am sure he was not the only doctor on the plane and not the only person who had commitments.  I wonder how many people missed connections as a result of the five-hour delay he caused?   We never hear about that.

You can blame the airline.  You can blame the policies.   You can nit-pick the arguments all you want to.   But the bottom line is, he had a choice and he chose badly.

And for the life of me I cannot see why.   Not in 1,000 years would I say to a flight attendant, much less a police officer, "I'm not getting off this plane unless you drag me!"

Because while I am quite an idiot at times, I'm not that much of an idiot.

Stop feeling sorry for people who make shitty life choices.  It only allows you to externalize your own shitty life choices.

The entire point of this blog is that your choices make a huge difference in your life.  So if you think you can "convince me" that this guy made a rational choice, forgetaboutit.  We don't play that game here.