Becoming an asshole starts early.
You know how folks turn out to be assholes? Not the personal-criterion-meeting asshole but an asshole that anyone will recognise? You know how that happens? Because their parents show them exactly how to do it. A thousand free kisses to those who grew out of that nonsense and decided to un-asshole themselves in adulthood, but this post isn't about them.
Last weekend, I was minding my own business, finishing up back to school shopping, basically living my suburban cookie cutter nightmarish existence in glorious detail. Everything about that Sunday evening made me want to go on a killing spree in that people-full mall I was in that evening, and be committed for insanity. There I was holding on to my son's hand, my daughter was walking the kids' father, and we had bags and we were all dressed down terribly. We were the picture of an ideal family. In my head we were the picture of every cliche that I have critically struggled against.
But I digress. There was this show at the mall, a Disney show with Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse on stage. It wasn't one of those poor-cousin-of-Disney locally managed shows where costumes looked like they'd give you a disease if you as much as looked in that direction. This gig was a genuine Disney show and the whole team was down from Mumbai and were..., well, it was a great show. Having shopped for the kids to a certain amount that made you eligible for a ticket to watch, I waited in line with the kids for them to open up the seating area.
I am one of those awful people you meet who tells people off for jumping queues, letting their toddlers walk on seats with shoes on, pointedly picks up trash if people have thrown it out in front of me and generally gets vocal and anal about selfish, uncaring insolence of which there's an abundance all around me.
As I waited in line, two women with 67 children in tow (even though the passes said one adult, two kids) came up behind me and formed their own organic line. A polite girl stood behind me and I thought she might object, but she didn't. It was beginning to annoy me and having a propensity for losing my temper irrespective of where I am, I was weighing the options of telling these moronic chicks that there was a line and it didn't start behind them. While it tossed and turned, the woman behind me kept fidgeting. Little gets to me more than a fidgety person whose infernal fidgeting affects my physical space. Since this woman was practically assaulting my back with her breasts, stomach and her squirming spawn, I was being jostled quite a bit. I snapped and said, can you not stand so close. She looks at me and says but we are in line. Wrong thing to say, no?
I had a go at her and said, uh no actually, she was breaking a pretty patient queue and if she really cared about being in the line, she'd go to the back. She says, "it's okay."
I say, "no it's not. There are people, also with kids, waiting before you. You are being unfair to them."
She says, "it's okay. They don't have a problem, why do you?
So I said, "because if I let it go now, I won't sleep well at night."
I am assuming she wasn't too bright because she turned dumb eyes at me and I said well, if people behind me let you get ahead, good for you.
Unfortunately, the girl right behind me was polite and didn't make a scene though she did register a half hearted protest to which again the moron mother said, it is okay.
I'd have forgotten about the whole incident, if the woman didn't turn around and tell the other woman with her, right in front of their preteen daughter, does she think this is the first time I've skipped a line, don't we know what we are supposed to do, we also have tickets, not like we are beggars, "over smart".
I called security. Not because she was gloating but because she just got on my last nerve. I'll leave this story at that.
But I thought about my maybe asshole tendency to want to be fair all the time. I am not sure I liked what happened or how I reacted. I might be embarrassing someone or delaying someone or plain being tightassed when I do these things but I very strongly believe that if you are going to let your kid see this behaviour you're just creating another wave of callous, rubbish individuals who dump their trash in the neighbour's yard and call themselves clean, in a manner of speaking. I know I am stating the obvious but I am incensed. In the last week alone, I've had way too many brushes with the indolence and selfishness that we as a whole indulge in and encourage. In the last week alone, I've send two kids to the back of the weighing line at supermarkets, kids whose parents sent them with "just one bag to be weighed", kids who do are learning implicitly and permanently that it is ok to rudely jump the queue, learning deceit and lack of respect.
On the road, not a single person displays consideration for another driver, no giving way, no letting a pedestrian cross, no waiting. God knows how difficult it is to be a pedestrian in India without Impatient motorists speeding up just as they spot a weary guy trying to get to the other side of the road and to a homemade meal without getting himself killed. Unless you're an aggressive bitch, you can forget about getting a u-turn at crossroads where there're no traffic lights. Peeing in public, laughing at a fat person, treating a waiter or service staff badly, especially without provocation. So many ways in which you can create a little asshole of your kid and perpetrate her or him or the world. Or not.