Monday, January 20, 2020

Rude America on Wheels

Oblivious and obtuse, thoroughly devoid of manners, a man writes to Miss Manners. Surely, he has gone to the right source. But, we would have found it more encouraging if he was not considering that his own appalling behavior might have some merit. 

Any sentient adult would have known that this behavior is rude and offensive and threatening. Any sentient adult would long since have cut it out. As Miss Manners knows well, there is no real room for debate. We feel a slight twinge of regret that the crazed foul-mouth cyclist has not yet been called out and knocked off his bike, but, we can still hope.

It’s an amazing reflection of America’s cultural depravity, here made manifest in one citizen’s belief that it’s OK to be monstrously rude to strangers, as long as you can ride off fast enough to avoid the consequences.

Here is the letter. We can only hope that it’s a hoax:

I commute by bicycle, and I walk many miles on the sidewalks of the dense inner city in which I live and work. I often call out expressions of encouragement to the people I observe in traffic, such as, "You go, girl, right through that red light! VIPs don't need to stop!" and "No need to park in a driveway when you can double-park in the bike lane!" and, to pedestrians, "Please, take your time crossing against the light. Your time's more important than everyone else's!"

I notice that the objects of my enthusiasm often respond with vulgar insults, obscene gestures and threats of violence. Am I missing something? Has my cheerleading been a breach of good manners?

Self-important, self-righteous and surely “woke.” It’s not just that it’s a breach of good manners. It’s all unprovoked and obnoxious. The man sounds like a complete asshole. And he ought to have noticed that the negative reactions he is receiving say something about his general demeanor, his lack of decorum, and his provocative words.

Anyway, for your edification, here is Miss Manners:

Why, those people are just cheerleading you when they encourage you to do something to yourself. It is true that your insults are less crudely worded, but they are clearly insults, and they inspire retaliatory insults.

You started it. And Miss Manners is asking you to stop. You are making a public nuisance of yourself. Even she does not have license to go around the streets, criticizing people unasked. It is rude, and the only change it makes in behavior is for the worse.

One appreciates the transcendent decorum of Miss Manners. Whatever might she mean by noting that the offended parties are encouraging him to do something to himself? One is shocked to learn that he has not yet his comeuppance.


whitney said...

It's hard to believe that's real except the bicyclists are unbelievably rude and they are filled with righteous virtue so it's possible

Sam L. said...

I am now reminded to catch up on Miss Manners' work. I have been remiss!

Dybbyk said...

As a city cyclist, I take the opposite approach. I'm no angel, but when a car driver does something that imperils me, if I catch up to him or her at the light I'll yell "God Bless You". I go on the assumption that they don't deliberately mean me harm, and we're all just trying to muddle through the day best we can. It has the further benefit of calming me down, as opposed to escalating negative emotions.