“I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.” (J.D. Salinger)
I try every day to see the beauty in people. I try, as my sister has always assured me, to find the “good side” of everyone – as she’s sure there is one. And thus I go through the day and think that there is more than what we see in everyone, and that we never quite know the true and full story of everyone. I try to tell myself not to judge and especially not to comment out loud. Because we just never know.
But, man-oh-man, some days this is hard to do! Some days, it takes all my might to settle down my hot blood and not to jump out of my skin and punch someone in the face. Or at least give them the lip!
Because people seem just so clueless sometimes.
I still remember, as a little girl, yelling at a 6+ft, 300lbs man (my best friend’s dad) for insulting my dad! I was probably 10 or so, and was fearless. That little girl still comes out today, every once in a while, and I start yelling (almost literally, sometimes) at the injustices of the world and people’s stupidity!
We went on a week long tour of Utah last week, and we were travelling through public places every day. We visited national parks, full of all sorts of people, all ages, all nationalities, all kinds of background. We shared dining rooms, buses and trails with all these people. Most of them were respectful of their surroundings and their fellow humans. And then, there were those who were not.
I wish there is a crash course in being an integrated human, before they launch us into the world. A crash course where they teach you about your personal space and how that affects others (everyone!) around you. A crash course on general respect, not just towards people, but towards landscape, buildings, “things”, in general, as well. And this course should be mandatory. And then, they should have a test. And if you fail, you should not be allowed to leave you stinky house! You should rot there, forever!
Lots of people trampled my nerves last week, but there were at least two of them that really, really, really bugged me. They annoyed me so much in fact, I thought there for a minute that they might call the cops on me if I should intervene to adjust their behaviors!
We took the bus in Zion National Park. It’s a tour bus, with a hop on - hop off schedule, that stops at some of the most interesting view points in the park. It has no air conditioning, but the sun roofs are wide open and all the windows too so the cross ventilation is great. It gets hotter than 100F every day in the summer in this park, in the middle of the desert, so, you can imagine how some air is needed from somewhere when you’re cooped up with 50 other humans in such a small space.
It was a sunny day and the sun was baking the tops of our heads while sitting in the bus seats. 102F for the high that day! So, this gentleman pulled out an umbrella, to make some shade for his wife and himself, sitting next to him. (I know – how thoughtful, right?!). We all felt jealous that we didn’t have an umbrella ourselves. Everyone starting taking pictures, all in good humor: “what a great idea” – we all said.
Until this lady and her husband and 2 year old boarded the bus. She demanded that the sun roofs be closed shut. She asked her husband several times that he would close them now! He ignored her. Then, she almost yelled at the man with the umbrella to close it: “Close that now! You can put my eye out! I can’t believe this! An umbrella on the bus! Unbelievable!”. No “please”, no “sorry, sir”, no “would you mind?”. Just “do it”. “Now”.
What was unbelievable to me, and everyone else, probably, was not only the fact that she had a hat with a pretty wide brim on her head and a huge pair of sunglasses covering her whole face (put what eye out?! The one hidden behind all that?!). She was also sitting down, in her seat, while the umbrella was way high, over the heads of the people in front of her, 5-6 feet at least away from her. What was unbelievable was that her own husband was carrying her 2 year old child in an aluminum carrier, on his back, which had nothing but a metal frame sticking out in everyone’s faces, about 4 feet away from his back. Whether you were standing up behind him or sitting down in the chair, the carrier’s frame was in front of your face, which could put your eye out, because there was no human watching the carrier’s whereabouts in the back of this man!
We all had to dodge his carrier as he moved and twirled around the bus in search for the perfect spot, where he and the kid were comfortable and the wife could see her treasure, as well. They took, in all, the room of four people, but one umbrella, above one person’s head was too much for her to handle! Unlike the child carrier, the umbrellas was really not invading anyone’s space at all.
On the same day, we went on the river walk trail, starting at The Temple of Sinawava, the last stop on the bus tour. The trail runs along the Virgin River, and is full of wildlife. Lots of bugs, lizards, squirrels, deer, birds. Even wild turkeys say “good day” to hikers right on the trail. This 11-12 year old kid was running along the trail, pushing his little cousin around, from one end of it to another, with a rubber gun in his hand. I watched him, as a rubber gun is hardly a commonality on a wilderness trail! He was looking for lizards, to shoot them with the gun. He found one, shot, and missed – in fact, his rubber snapped and fell limp on the ground. The failure only made him angrier. He grinded his teeth, and looked feverishly for a rock, then, from 2-3 feet away from the poor thing, stoned it. I could not handle this anymore, and yelled, along with another lady who watched the whole thing just like me: “Don’t you do THAT, kid!!”. We went on about how this is a park and protected environment and how the lizard didn’t hurt anyone, and how he should respect nature.
His mom just heard our screaming at him – she was completely oblivious to the whole episode. She waltzed into the altercation, fake bleached hair, fake boobs and Paris Hilton glasses covering her face, going in a slow, Valley linger: “and what exactly did he do?!” Oh, I had so many problems with that! First, don’t bring your son to the national park with a gun; then, explain to him the basic rules while he’s in here; then, be around and watch that he actually listens to you. He was, like I said, old enough to know better. But he would not know better, even if he were 32, if someone (his mom, maybe?!) didn’t teach him first! All she did after both I and the other woman told her about the stoning was to tap him on the shoulder and say “Honey, you need to think what you’re doing next time!”. Think of what, exactly, I told myself: she’s delivering no content to the kid. Think of what?! I am sure he’s thinking: “sure, mom, I’ll think of squishing the darn thing with my foot next time, instead! That’ll be surest to kill it!”. There is no thinking to be done without a frame of reference, in my opinion.
And I could sit here and list all the other annoying things people did all week long. Taking up too much room in the dining rooms, to the point that you had to walk around whole sections of tables in order to get out of your own chair, because they were blocking whole areas up with their “lounging” slouch; moving 2-3 times around the restaurant because one table is too small, and one is too close to the entrance, and one is not in the shade enough and another is too far away from the atmosphere, and … And so on and so forth.
I am not sure whether this is a sign of getting old, but I notice these ungrateful, self-entitled, spoiled egocentric bothers more and more lately. And it’s also becoming significantly harder to keep my mouth shut!
I wanted so badly to physically hurt the woman with the umbrella problem as well as the fakely bleached blonde in a trance. Just to give them the same rude, hurtful treatment they dish out to the world.
And this made me realize: as much as I love traveling, I’ll probably stop doing it at some point. It’s either being miserable when all these brats (and there are more and more of them as our culture keeps encouraging instant gratification and entitlement in everything we do!) are working my nerves and intruding on my personal space and values, or going to jail because I’m going to hurt them right back just to prove a point.
I’m afraid there will be a day when I’ll have to make a choice there. And I am not looking forward to it.