Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tights, Cape, and Attitude

My dad has often said that if I were a less honest person I could have been the world's most successful televangelist. As scary a thought as this is, he's probably right. I've always been a riler. I come from a long line of people who are pissed off by injustice, aggravated by ineptitude, and passionate about stirring the social pot to make changes happen. This does not, in fact, come with tights and a cape. That would be cool, though. I do try very hard to, err... use my powers for good.

Yeah, that was sacrasm, but only mostly.

Today I had a really nice riler-reward moment. A sweet kid who was working at my local shopping center got abused by a woman in his line. His crime? He called her "miss." She was five million years old and obnoxious, and began to dress him down for not saying "ma'am," which is technically the socially correct address, only in this day and age it's also archaic and somewhat insulting, depending on how anal you are. Doesn't bother me. But Granny Tightarse absolutely flipped at being called "miss," since she was a "widow of slur-garble-spew" years and a grandmother, and deserved "proper respect."

Forget, for a moment, that yelling at a nice kid who just wants to get through college and never scan coupons again is getting yelled at for calling her "miss." (By the way-- he called her back to the counter because she wandered off without her keys. Isn't that terrible? How insulting.) What really chapped my ass was the gall required by this beastie to be that rude over a word. This young man has no way of knowing she isn't a "miss,"

and while Ms. Manners would surely respond with advice to take a default position with "ma'am" in this situation, this is not a big deal. For anyone that abusive to even utter the words "proper respect" was just beyond the pale for this riler.

So I verbally bitch-slapped a senior citizen. I told her off. I pointed out her over-reaction to a tiny faux pas that, in 2007, is meaningless. I pointed out her failure to thank this young man for saving her the confusion and inconvenience of getting to her car without her keys. I pointed out her incredible rudeness in raising her voice, and that she was inconveniencing several other customers who had to wait for service while she had a hissy fit. She left in a huff, no doubt to go home where she could enjoy tea on her throne while her tiara was adjusted to fit her newly deflated head.

I realize that many who read this think I was being mean to an old lady. I was. I was also polite with my language, direct, and while I am being personally insulting here, in a setting of anonymity, I was not there, in a public place. She was wrong, and everyone was standing around letting her be wrong while a nice kid got a tongue lashing he didn't deserve. My personal view is that indulging people like Ma'am is actually doing them a great disservice. When I am a jerk I hope to have people I respect point it out so that I can learn from it. The experience is not pleasant at the time, but I become a better person in the long run. When twerpy, nasty, rude-arsed old battle-axes like Ma'am are tolerated and indulged, they get the message that they are allowed to be twerpy, nasty, rude-arsed old battle-axes. An AARP card is not a license to be a tottering nightmare in mothy wool clothing.

It earns you my deference, but not my complete and unquestioned allegience to your stupidity. You get doors opened for you and help loading the groceries. You don't get to kick puppies with a get-out-of-judgment-free-card.

I know rilers like me-- we, the leaders of angry-mobs-with-torches, those who whip others into a frenzy-- frighten the timid. Meek people are terrified of me.

I'll tell you a secret (glancing around to make sure only the entire internet is listening); I kind of get a kick out of that.


I did not become a rabble rouser to cause pain and discomfort. And for the record, I frequently volunteer my time to help nasty old crusty people in need without questioning worthiness. All people in crisis deserve help. But there are problems in the world, and those of us who shout "no freaking way" are those who see to it these problems are solved. Sometimes that involves delivering groceries to a shut in (regardless of personality). Other times this involves being loud, direct, and unwilling to back down. And there are moments in life when a dozen adults will stand in silence, all thinking the same thing: that person is being a real asshat, but I'm not saying a word. Secretly, many of them are praying somebody else in the vicinity will. Secretly, the meek are praying it will be over before anything upsetting happens.

Openly, boldly, perhaps aggressively, the rilers are rubbing chalk into their palms and adjusting their grip on the metaphorical Louisville Slugger of their wrath.

Screw the meek. Really, they get the earth at some point, so they can just shut up for now. Plus they never say crap anyway, so it's not a long walk. To hell with the wimps and their "can't we all just get along." No, dammit, we can't. Pay attention to history much? We can try hard, but we will fail. Ignoring problems is not "getting along," it's failing to participate. It actually increases the discomfort in the long run. Tell you what-- if it turns out someday we do all get along, I can absolutely promise you the President of Getalongia won't be meek. He or she won't be mild; he or she will be a riler. I know many meek individuals who will deliver the aforementioned groceries. I don't know any who organized the delivery squad, conned the local supermarkets into discounts, bullied the volunteers into volunteering, and made the phone calls to tell off meek volunteers who were late delivering Mrs. Cranky's Sudafed and chicken soup. That sort of position requires one of US: the few, the proud, the bloody-minded bastards. Yes, the rilers.

You know something? This job should come with a freaking cape and tights.

We come in good and bad flavors and seventy two convenient, portable sizes. Some are villains. Some are heroes. I like to think of myself as a good gal fighting for truth, justice, and extra mocha sprinkles for one and all. Sometimes I'm mean. But the target of my meanness really has it coming. And I'll tell you, as I was leaving that store, two or three people acknowledged my act of rilery with a "good for you," a thumbs up, and (in one instance) a quiet, clapping motion. The manager (with whom I have a very friendly relationship) caught my eye and mouthed "thank you." On the one hand, I was annoyed in a tiny way that he, in his position of authority, didn't speak up in my place. On the other hand I try not to expect non-rilers to be something they are not. I shrugged my acknowledgment at him and just left the store, but you know... he had a gleam in his eye.

I'm thinking about inviting him to a meeting and trying to convert him. We can always use another big mouth, and he seems to have potential. I might even spring for the cape and tights.

7 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Bebe Thomas said...

You go, girl*!

*... no disrespect intended.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

WTG, Chrissy! I've often said, sitting back and letting people be rude because they're old, or related to you, or a complete stranger or whatever, does nothing of value but give them the message that it's OK to act that way.

Anonymous said...

It's a bird........it's a plane....it's SUPER CHRISSY!!!!!!!!!!!! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bow, then conviently land in front of Krispy Kreme's when the HOT sign is turned on :) :) :)

Eva Gale said...

I missed you. And this is exactly why.

Why can't I rss you?

imogen howson said...

You did the right thing. I don't suppose the woman will actually learn from it, but it just might make her question her actions next time she's tempted to do the same, and I bet you made the young man feel a lot better!

Eden Bradley said...

I just loved this line: 'Screw the meek."
This is why we love you, Chrissy.

Jenn said...

Chrissy, you are my hero(ine)! :)

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