Before you close this page and vow never to darken the doors of my Small Corner again, rest assured that my prejudices are not related to race, gender, sexuality, or religion. Well, I’m not really fond of the Baptists, but that’s a generalization I’m working through. No, my prejudices have nothing to do with skin color or lifestyle–unless you are, say, a gay Asian Catholic who happens to be OBNOXIOUS. Yep, that’s right, I don’t like obnoxious people. There, I said it. Do you still love me? Can we hug?
Seriously. I suppose I have always known this about myself, but in my insular little world, where I get to choose (for the most part) the people I encounter, I don’t often have to deal with it. I shop at the same grocery store every week, eat at the same handful of restaurants, buy coffee from the same Starbucks. Sure, there are obnoxious people at those places, but I have learned their patterns, because they, like me, are creatures of habit. That woman in the white Lexus SUV is always going to cut into the Starbucks drive-through line without going around like everyone else, and that surly teenage girl at the supermarket is never going to be happy when she sees me coming through the U-Scan line with all of my reusable shopping bags. There are even obnoxious people at work, and I know how to minimize my face time with them. I should note that kids don’t count because they are pre-programmed to be obnoxious, particularly teenagers, and while it’s annoying, I try not to hold it against them. It’s the Obnoxiuos Adult that bothers me, the individual who ought to know better, and probably does, but still chooses to wave his (or her) Ass Flag high and proud. And there’s no place like a touristy vacation spot to see those flags waving. Consider the following scenarios:
Scenario 1: The Restaurant
Last Wednesday while at the beach we had dinner at That Restaurant Owned by the Cool Dude Who Sings the Anthem to a Particular Tequila-based Beverage. We were on the patio where there was great live music and a nice breeze coming in off the fake lake surrounding the place. It was a great. Everyone was having fun–the waitstaff, the people standing in line to get in, even Mia, who was flirting with the waiter and shaking her little booty to the music. She even loved that every 30 minutes the lights would dim, and Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel would appear on the big screen TVs to announce a “Hurricane Party Warning.” Inside the restaurant (which we could see through a huge picture window) an enourmous fake hurricane funnel would start spinning, complete with lightning and thunder, and a giant bottle of tequila would emerge from the center of it and appear to pour tequila into a giant shot glass. Then Cool Dude Restaurant Owner would sing his tequila drink anthem on the big screens and the entire place would clap and sing along. The first few times it was a blast. Then the Obnoxious People came.
Apparently, unbeknowst to the rest of the restaurant’s patrons, there was a So You Think You Can Whistle contest going on at the Obnoxious People’s table. At completely random intervals and for no apparent reason, one of the Obnoxious People would whistle. By whistle I mean he would insert his index fingers into his mouth and let out an ear-piercing scream of a sound that made people jump, and that is saying a lot considering how loud this place was. And just when everyone had recovered from the last whistle, he, or one of his Obnoxious Friends, would do it again. And every time one of them whistled, Mia would have a total meltdown–a pitiful, startled, shaking, fingers-gripping-my-shirt meltdown. I would have her calm and ready to go back into her high chair when the next whistle was dispatched, and with each whistle she calmed less and less, so that by the time my food came she was a wreck and I had to put my meal in a styrofoam box and go sit with her on a bench outside the restaurant.
Scenario 2: The Pool
You know in cartoons when they play ominous dramatic music to indicate that something bad is about to happen, and then you see what appears to be an enormous menacing figure in shadow wielding what looks like the world’s longest Samurai sword, but then the angle changes and it’s just a cricket in front of a light with a blade of grass in its mouth? Last Wednedsay afternoon at the pool the scene was the exact opposite of that. There was cool music playing on the pool sound system, and I was floating dreamily along in the lazy river with Mia stretched out in front of me. The sun wasn’t too hot, and the breeze wasn’t too cool. And then some people came into the pool area–three or four kids and three grown women who had obviously come in off the beach and were looking to settle at the pool for a while. Groovy, I thought. And then three things happened: they settled right next to the lazy river, they started talking, and they got IN the lazy river. I watched in horror as the cute little cricket morphed into a murderer of peace.
For starters, they took up the entire pool deck area next to the lazy river, part of which was intended to be a walkway, and if someone needed to get by, well tough shit. They weren’t moving. Not even if you said excuse me, or if you were carrying a squirmy toddler. Once they got settled in they started talking–some of them to each other, and some of them to remote parties via cell phone, and some of them to both at the same time. I don’t tend to be one of those people who gets all irate when someone is having a cell phone conversation in public, but there are cell phone conversations, and then there are CELL PHONE CONVERSATIONS. In this particular scenario it was the latter, and there was lots of crowing and hooting and screeching involved, as well as lots of stopping in the middle to repeat to someone at the pool what the person on the line had just said. But all of that was nothing compared to the lazy river.
At first it was just the kids, and as I said before, kids this age (12-15 or so) are often pre-programmed to be obnoxious. Unless their parents are watching them, and then all pardons are off, because HELLO, if your kid is actually knocking people off of their lazy river floats, you should do something about it. But it was soon clear that this was acceptable behavior, because when the adults got in the lazy river a few minutes later, they acted exactly the same way. Yes, people, I watched grown women knock little children into the wall and into the water of the lazy river. I had gotten out by this time, so I had a prime view of the action: the women made a dramatic point of walking into the lazy river with no floats, then decided to get on the floats in the deeper water where there are no helpful steps to aid in the process. There was a LOT of screaming and splashing, and they completely stopped the flow of traffic, and then, oh good lord in heaven, one of them fell off and GOT HER HAIR WET. I am surprised that no hotel personnel or beach lifeguards came running, because her shouts of, “Oh God, my HAIR! MY HAIR!” were so loud and desperate that she might have been saying, “Oh God, my HEART! MY HEART!” Thankfully, the trauma of WET HAIR IN A SWIMMING POOL was enough to drive them back to their rooms for the remainder of the afternoon.
Scenario 3: The Wrong Room
Their rooms, which were on the same floor as our room. Which is how it came to be that the next morning at 7:45 there was a loud insistent pounding on our door. Guess who! It was one of the ADULT WOMEN, and when the door opened revealing total strangers she said, “Sorry, wrong room,” and then turned around and yelled, without leaving the vicinity of our door, “IT’S NOT THIS ONE! TRY 317!!” So yeah, they were just knocking on doors. At 7:45 in the morning. Hoping to find…I have no idea.
And yes, in case you were wondering, my daughter, who slept through a 45 minute alarm and evacuation, woke up when she heard the pounding on the door.
So maybe I am being unreasonable (and I know I can count on you to tell me if that is the case), but there seems to be a definite lack of consideration for others on our planet, especially among the vacationing (is this because people throw their manners out the window on vacation?). I can admit that encountering bad behavior makes me prickle and fantasize about payback, but I’m not really a vengeful person, and I’m definitely not interested in putting more obnoxious juju out there in the universe. Mostly I want to teach my offspring how to be kind and compassionate, even when she is faced with a singular lack of kindness and compassion, and I don’t think hearing her mother say, “Yeah, bitch, WRONG ROOM” is an appropriate lesson for that objective. So what’s a girl to do? How do you deal? And if you have kids (or are planning to), how do you teach them to wave their peace flag high, even as the wind from the waving of those other flags blows sand in their eyes?