Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where The Heck Did Things Get This Out of Whack?

I've never been a confrontational person by nature. Causing a scene just to prove a point, even if I've been wrong usually doesn't cross my mind at all, although I do spent time thinking about what I should have done after the fact quite a bit. I spent a lot of years thinking I was just being overly polite or passive because it didn't matter, but what I've found most recently is that I'm dealing with complacency.

I've never wanted to rock the boat unless absolutely necessary, because for me, it's easier to understand the situation and adapt to the least-problematic alternative. It doesn't matter if I get hosed within that process, it's more important to keep some form of peace and normalcy. When I write these words, it sound really stupid to think that's how I've been dealing with things, but then again, I come from a family that didn't handle conflict fairly at all, and I'm married to someone who stands up for herself quite a bit. She's not afraid to be honest, which is an incredible trait that I admire greatly. And while I would love to live more like that, my wiring tends to push me in the path of least resistance. Mind you, I'm working on this issue, because I think it's important that you have a voice and stand up for yourself, but at the same point, you have to have the confidence and belief in yourself to make it happen.

When you are with someone in quite close quarters, things come up all the time that require communication, understanding, and a commitment to listen to each other and try to find common ground. And I always thought I was a good communicator until I started dating girl. Now I realize that while I do a reasonable job of saying things, there is a lot of room for improvement. The fact that I'm willing to do it is a huge step, but it's a process. And one that constantly gets tested, over and over again.

That's because as humans, we interact with others all the time, whether it's friends, family, co-workers, service personnel, or random strangers, and in most instances, we have to interact with what we know at the time at face value. You can't sit back and examine every interaction and react with supreme confidence every time, so you react as best as you can and go from there. And our reactions are tempered by our own personal past and current experiences and attitude, which means that even under the best circumstances, we may not understand why we react to certain things the way we do.

So you can imagine taking all of my experiences and dealing with the realities of our busy, hectic day to day work, there's a huge amount of challenges. Things move quickly, information is flowing at all times of the day, and there is no real down time anymore as we try to cram all of the responsibilities we have into a compartmentalized approach and do the best we can. And while we all try to be polite and considerate of others, that isn't often the case. Sometimes, it's from a bad mood or being preocupied with other situations, but lately, I'm seeing more and more of people just doing what they want without concern for anyone else.

I'm not exactly sure where the sense of entitlement has come from with some people, but I was always taught to be polite and considerate to others unless they gave me a reason to do otherwise. Now with my own temperment included, you can see the recipe for some trouble since it often times takes a long time before the reason gets to the point where I need to do something. But the fact that it's coming a lot more lately tells me that I'm noticing a lot more people who just don't care if their actions affect others.

Tuesday night, girl and I went to our regular bowling league at Hollywood Bowl, which is usually a good time. Granted, the fact that I completely miscommunicated with girl about our lane location added some tension to the night, but things got off to a bad start when some fellow bowlers decided to bring their childen to their bowling league. Normally, this isn't a huge issue, as the kids play in a small area and keep to themselves reasonably well while their parents bowl. Last Tuesday, the kids decided that their toys belonged in the middle of the walkway to the far lanes, which meant that everyone needed to walk through strewn out toys and blankets. The parents passively told the kids to pick up their stuff, but over a half an hour had passed before anything was done. Mind you, it wasn't a huge issue to step around the toys, but at the same point, the parents inability to deal with the kids affected everyone else at the alley.

As we drove home later that night down NE Glisan, we were driving behind a black sedan that suddenly was driving very slowly in one of the lanes. Because of other traffic and the conversation with girl about our bowling night, I didn't immediately move into the other lane until later on to realize that the driver had been on the phone the entire time of her drive. She wasn't using hands free, and was consistenly 10 MPH slower than the posted speed limit, even leaving late at intersections because she was distracted while driving by her call. I get that there are conversations that are important to have, and it might make sense to have them when driving. If that's the case, doesn't the hands free mode on a phone make sense? But instead of thinking of others, the driver decided her converstion was more important that whatever else was going on, even within the flow of traffic.

But I think the final straw that has frustrated me was my experience at the TMBG show at the Crystal Ballroom last night. They Might Be Giants is one of my favorite bands, and one that I forget how much I enjoy until I see them in person or hear one of their songs, so having the chance to see them live was exciting to me, and I was happy to bring girl with me because she likes their music as well. We met our friend, S3K, at Ringlers, and the evening did get off to a rather clunky start when our food was delayed by over 40 minutes because they lost our order ticket.

Granted, the waitress was very apologetic and explained what happened, but there was no discount applied to our order at all. They did expediate our order, and it wasn't like we were in a hurry to get to our show which started at 9 PM, but I just felt like they could have done more. I even gave the waitress a decent tip because it wasn't her fault the order was misplaced, but at the same time, I just felt they could have done more under the circumstances. But I wasn't going to push the issue because I understand how things happen, and the order eventually arrived.

After eating, we got in line and soon got into the Crystal Ballroom almost 40 minutes before the show, and the crowd was reasonably sized but there was still plenty of room to move about when we got there. If you've been to a show at the Crystal, there's seats in the balcony for sitting and some benches along the far wall, but otherwise, it's standing room. Since we stand for many Timbers matches, standing doesn't bug me at all as long as I have enough room so I'm not overly crowded. I get that people bump into each other from time to time moving about or dancing, but I wasn't prepared for what happened to me and girl during the show.

The opening act came and played, and it was well received and the crowd was still reasonably sparse. As we were waiting for the Giants to start up at 9 PM, that's when things started to get interesting. As S3K had his head turned to talk with girl, a couple moved from behind us to jump right in front of him to get closer for the Giants. Girl got into it with two girls that wanted to move closer to the stage because they wanted to see what was going on, but girl stood her ground because things were getting more crowded. They referred to Girl as a bitch, and she gave it right back to them by calling them a bitch, then chatting with two gals next to us that were upset about all the people wanting to crowd. One gal stood right behind me in an attempt to get me to move, but I held my ground by putting my elbow right between her breasts to keep her back. At this point, the show hadn't even started but people had decided to start rushing the stage a bit, and it wasn't appreciated.

If that was it, I could still count the night as a success, but then the show started, and while I was engrossed in the songs and singing along, the couple in front of S3K started groping each other and getting in the way of others. Girl, meanwhile, was constantly being backed into by two guys that were trying to dance and didn't have a sense of space. I had to put my arm around her back to try and protect her later on, but all that did was get my arm bumped and make things warmer than it already was for girl. Meanwhile, I was dealing with a pink haired gal that couldn't handle her alcohol, and she proceeded to spend most of the two hours flopping about, falling over myself and others around her while trying to stand up. Her companion didn't seem that interested in stopping her behavior, and the final straw for me was one of the guys behind girl grabbed me to keep himself from falling over, and I glared at him. There was also someone who we couldn't target, but they had some of the worst personal gas I've ever smelled, and they proceeded to let go every 10 minutes in a noxious display that would make even Barnacle Brian blush.

If I could gage the show simply on the music and energy of the Giants, I would give it a huge thumbs up because I love their music and the Giants are professionals who know how to entertain. If I had to include the venue, I would lessen the grade slightly, although the Crystal isn't a bad place to watch a show based on sound and asthetics. But add in the crowd, and I can't give this more than an average show. Girl was completely distracted by the antics, and I know she didn't enjoy herself because of what others did, while I was upset because she didn't enjoy herself and I had my own issues.

Granted, I could have taken some of these issues in my own hands at the time, by getting physical or verbal with the irritants. However, the drunken girl probably wouldn't have understood what she was doing, and the dancing guys probably wouldn't have changed anything, but there's a possibility that the situation could have escalate to something worse leading to ejection or confrontation that would be regretted. I don't think any of those folks are giving it a second thought what they did last night and how they conducted themselves at the concert, but they probably should be.

But it's easier to just keep doing what you are doing at points, because what I want to do is more important than what others are thinking or doing. Seriously, do you really need to get that plowed to enjoy a show, or do you really need to slam into strangers to have a good time? I've been to dozens of shows at the Crystal and never had this issue before, and I've also been on the floor of other arenas and never had things happen this badly. For some shows, it did help that we were friendly to people around us and we provided a unified front, like in Vegas at the Mode show when some people tried to crowd the stage and a line of us stood our ground.

I get that people want what they want, but why should it be at the expense of others? Are we that callous and insulated about our own existance to not even think about how our actions affect others, or are some of us so convinced that we should always get what we want that we'll do whatever it takes to meet our needs? I don't want to make a generalization here, but many of the people that exhibit that this behavior are younger people in the 18 - 30 crowd. It's not always them, but more often than not, it seems like they are at the center of this behavoir. As as someone who doesn't think like that, I can't wrap my head around why they can operate in this matter, not realizing how their actions are viewed by others. I don't know if this is a product of their own self absorption about their needs or an extension of being told they can do anything or be anything no matter what, but it's an attitude that I don't like but it's becoming far more prevolent than I would prefer.

I'm not perfect in bringing this up, because everyone has issues in thinking of others when needed, but I'm trying to learn and be more empathetic while also learning to stand up when it's necessary. It's certainly a work in progress, but within our incredibly diverse world, apparently, it's becoming as important of a skill as learning your reading and writing basics. Perhaps we should be teaching our younger generations some empathy and compassion along with other basics rather than turning school into nothing more than an exercise in reinforcing entitlement and standardized testing.

BASEBALL UPDATE - Vancouver steps up for the Beavers, but is it too little, too late? I admire their conviction and sounds like they have some ideas to bring the Portland Beavers to Vancouver, WA, but will it be enough to save baseball for the metropolitan area? Based on the news around PGE Park, it looks like the final hurdles for MLS to take over the stadium are being crossed.

EDIT - I forgot to mention a couple of things in my concert ramblings, added in italics this afternoon. GK


devlyn said...

The 3 times I've watched a show at the Crystal, it's been pretty much like what you describe. Probably not as bad, actually. What I don't get are why people pay $30+ plus convenience fees to stand next to the bar and chat during the show. I've learned that being jostled by the crowd is the best way of watching a band there, lest you not be able to hear them because some hipster was there to be seen and heard. Argh.

GK said...

Yup, the hipster doofus quotient at times can be rough to deal with.