There is a story we like to tell about my late grandmother and her dealings with a rude person of a younger generation. As she got out of her car in a parking lot one day, she inadvertantly knocked the side mirror of the car next to her. Unfortunately, it was occupied by a young man who yelled at her to "watch it, old lady!"
In response, my feisty grandmother turned around and gave his side mirror several more whacks, looked at him pointedly and walked away. I wish I had been there to see it, but it was almost as good just to hear her retell it.
I love how as we get older, we start to stop worrying so much about what people around us think. It is rather unfortunate that we don't learn to do this a lot earlier in life. Take me, for example--since I am still relatively young, I concern myself much more than I should about what the perfect stranger sitting in front of me on the airplane will do to me if I tell him what I really think about him.
Take the guy who was sitting in front of my mom and me on the plane today. He was a short, squat, Sicilian-looking guy in a dark suit (my mom swears he was Mafia) and he wasn't a very happy person. I suppose he might have been pleasant enough had all gone as it should, but since things beyond anyone's control (like weather) caused our plane to be grounded in Green Bay and then further delayed upon landing in Chicago, he decided to show us all his true colors.
Once we finally landed in Chicago, every passenger on board whipped out a phone to call someone who could get online and look up connecting flight information. I certainly did. This man in front of me did the same. Only he felt the need to speak into his cell phone loudly enough for everyone on the plane to hear. Worse, he thought it would be a great idea to also use every naughty word he could think of ten times each and twenty if the word started with the letter "F."
My mom and I just kind of raised our eyebrows at each other, but said nothing. By now, we had been taxi-ing for about 20 minutes. (I had no idea a plane could taxi for so long! I think we may have taxied for longer than our entire flight had been.) And then, we stopped moving and sat on the tarmac because another plane was blocking our gate since we were more than an hour late. Mr. Mafia was having a conniption fit by now, punctuated with so much vulgarity that my ears were bleeding.
We had a wonderful pilot who explained every delay and the reasons for it in detail. Yet here is this guy in front of me screaming at the captain wanting to know what could be so important that he was missing his next flight for it. When we finally got to a gate and could get off the plane, he only continued with his show. Because I can only assume that that was what he was doing at this point--putting on a show for the rest of us. Showing the rest of us, who were in the same boat (er, plane) as he was, just how manly and mad he could get. Perhaps we should have followed suit and put on our own shows in equal proportions? Yes, let's all storm the flight deck and tell that pilot just what we think about his listening to control when they grounded him and not flying through the lightning storm anyway just so we could all make our connections. Of course! Wouldn't that have made everything all better?
Just as I was about to say something to him (actually, I may never have mustered up the courage because he was really kind of scary--Mafia, you know) a little old lady in front of him turned around and said, "Don't you take the name of my Savior in vain!"
While he didn't like what she said, and it certainly didn't stop his spewing of swear words, it definitely stopped me in my tracks and made me think. That cute little lady wasn't one bit afraid of the (very scary!) guy and she dared to say what many of us in that plane probably wanted to say.
I hope that I can become a little old lady sooner rather than later.
Or at least muster up the courage to act like one.
You may have guessed that I am in an airport hotel writing this, as we missed our connection to SLC in Chicago. Fun times.