Have you noticed? Here we are living in one of the greatest places on earth and everyone is copping attitude. You’d think in times of peace, prosperity and beautiful weather people would be happy, but that’s not the case.
Last Sunday around 10 a.m., I’m driving north in the mid-city neighborhood on 16th Street approaching California Avenue. There’s a family in a dark, four-door sedan with Indiana plates creeping along at about two miles per hour in the left lane. “Probably a tourist looking for street parking because the Bagel Nosh down the block doesn’t have enough parking,” I’m thinking to myself.
Indiana turns right as I approach the intersection. Across the street near Lincoln Middle School is a middle-aged man in scruffy shorts and a T-shirt out for stroll with a young boy who could have been his son. Of course, the man steps into the intersection with his young charge without looking right or left, oblivious to any traffic. I stop and wait while they pass then proceed north on 16th Street.
“A******e!” I look around. “scruffy shorts and T-shirt” was shouting at me. My gut reaction was to respond in an appropriate and equally intelligent manner: My middle finger – also known as the “State Bird of California” went up. “F*** **u,” I shouted back.
And, we both went our separate ways. But, I couldn’t help but think about how stupid the whole exchange was. Two total strangers at an intersection hurling invectives at each other just because the other person is there? Are we all wound up so tight that we acknowledge each other by grunting implied threats like pre-historic cavemen?
What kind of person arbitrarily decides to scream profanity at a total stranger, and, better yet, how about that stranger even responding to such rank stupidity?
On occasions like this (which seem to be coming much more common in the past months) I wonder if it even dawns on the aggressor that he (or she) may be setting into motion a road rage incident resulting in some innocent person getting the crap beat out of him or being shot to death? Naww. Requires too much intellect.
These road rage incidents are attracting more media attention because they’re so pointless, ineffective and accomplish nothing. The responder on the other hand can’t possibly derive any self-satisfaction in calling an idiot “an idiot.”
I don’t want to be cast as the reformer who’s going to straighten everybody else out. It’s too big of a job, and those who would most benefit from an “attitude adjustment” wouldn’t appreciate it, anyway there are also jerks who will always be jerks.
In this case, there was an adult male in a good neighborhood shouting profanity at a total stranger on a street corner, in front of a four or five year old child. What a wonderful example “T-shirt and shorts” set. What’s this child learning from this experience after he goes home and tells his mother and rest of the family that, “Daddy called some guy an ‘A*****e’ this morning.”
As for me, after I got home, I mused over the incident for a couple of hours and thought it was worth a mention in this space. There was a time that such an exchange on the streets among total strangers would occur a couple times of the year. Although never totally justified, at least the shouting match followed a dumb move, or lapse of manners and judgment.
Now, it’s hard to leave the house without getting into a war of words or confrontation with someone who is having a worse hair than you are. It’s becoming a weekly or even more frequent occurrence, Unfortunately, it does nothing for the quality of life in Santa Monica.
The real loser in this short, sad story is an innocent little boy who learned from some adult without class or grace who should have known better about how to be a real jerk last Sunday morning. I think we all need to take a deep breath and just chill.
Assuming that “angry people” are becoming more the norm here, these days, I don’t see anything that’s going to turn that around. There is no happy pill on the horizon and out city government and its policy-makers are as agenda-driven as they ever were. The heck with what the public wants, it’s all about what they want. The citizens be damned.
The frustration level mounts, people become more unhappy and dissatisfied with the way they’re being served — or ignored. Special interests are taking charge and we know what they want — benefits for their causes and conditions over the needs and the desires of the public.
These special interests are already lying and misrepresenting the facts and issues as they relate to future development in the City. If voters don’t wake up and smell the coffee, we’re all going to find our future by the bay is going to be even more unpleasant as crowding increases and time goes by.