Friday, May 11, 2018

People frustrate me

Yeah, I do go back and forth. When I'm in a good headspace, I talk about how I try to love everyone* and how I recognize that everyone is fighting a hard battle, things people do do frustrate me.

(*Though "loving" someone doesn't necessarily mean you like them or want to spend time with them)

And granted: disclaimer: a lot of this is from the news, and of course the  people reporting the news have their own agendas and reasons for bringing things to the fore when they do bring them, and this is probably stuff that's been going on forever and we just never heard about, but:

- An employee at Duke calls for the firing of a couple student baristas because they played music he found offensive (Other option, sir: say, "I find your choice of music offensive, would you consider changing it" and if no, going somewhere else for coffee. Or maybe, just thinking, "Okay, fine. I won't stay here after I get my coffee 'cos I don't like the music." I've done that.)

- Bob Marley's granddaughter (I think that's the relationship I heard) and a couple of her friends who were renting an Air BnB together got the cops called on them, presumably because their complexions were different from what was typical in that neighborhood (though I would also argue: if you're going to be renting a property you own out as an Air BnB, it's probably good form to notify your neighbors so they know)

- A young woman, working on a paper in a lounge at Yale, gets the cops called on her because she looks like a "stranger," because again, she looks a little different from the "typical" Yalie. (The one year I lived in the dorm? People used to nap in the lounges all the time and no one thought anything of it. Then again, our hall was small enough that we knew everyone and we mostly knew their friends from other dorms and their boyfriends....)

And, I don't know, but I think what these actually have in common here (besides the perhaps-obvious) is the entitled attitude on the part of the person doing the calling.

(And yes, there are probably deeper things going on in the stories, it sounds like the Yale thing may have been an intentional jerk move on the caller's part, but...I don't know. I guess I was raised with a desire not to risk giving offense even if I disagreed with a person, so it kind of breaks my brain. If I saw a stranger in my building on campus - if it were a regular class day I'd probably walk up to them and say, "Are you looking for someone's office, can I help you?" Granted, if it were late in the evening or on a weekend when the building shouldn't be open, I might consider calling campus police...but then again I might not. I know I once asked the secretary to review our security cam footage when I heard someone in the building on a Saturday when I was working with my office door closed, and it turned out to be the horticulturalist watering the plants in the building. But then again: I know her, I know her employees, and if I had seen them I would have recognized them. Perhaps part of it is knowing the people who are "supposed" to be around you and accepting them?)

Someone asked on Twitter: when have you called the police?

I can think of three times I called my local PD:

1. I saw a collision in the intersection near my house and was concerned there were injuries, and asked them to send the EMTs.

2. When that guy was trying to get into my house back in January.

3. Noise complaint, but that was called in to the non-emergency number (then again, so was #2). The noise complaint didn't do much - this was when I had the house-ful of partying 20-somethings to the north of me and they were loud EVERY NIGHT and I called the complaint in when they had moved their stereo OUTDOORS and were blasting it at 2 am and were wrestling on the lawn.

I also called the police once "on the road" (I pulled over) when an elderly driver was going the wrong way (I was told the police were already en route to intercept him)

And I called the police in my parents' town back in January 2016 when we couldn't find my parents :(

Also, about #3 - I was fairly suspicious the group of 20-somethings was selling something out of their house - lots of cars would come, stop, the driver or passenger would be in the house for five minutes, and then they'd leave. I didn't call the cops though because I felt I had insufficient evidence. I did keep a list of makes and models of cars (some of them repeated) and as much of the tags as I could see from my window, just in case. (The people in that house were later evicted. I don't know why, for sure - nonpayment of rent? Massive rodent problem (which then moved out into the neighborhood and that was the fall I got a rat in my house, probably from their place))

But yeah. If I see someone in the neighborhood I don't recognize, I don't call the cops. Oh, I might, if I saw them trying doors on several houses to see if any where unlocked. I might if they were harassing someone.

But I was raised with "You don't bother the cops unless someone's life is clearly in danger, there's been an accident, or someone is stealing from/damaging someone else's house or car. Or someone is harming an animal," though I've never seen that

The problem with this behavior - calling the cops on every little thing - is there's already suspicion and mistrust of cops in many quarters, and this isn't going to help. (And it doesn't help racial politics that it's mostly white people calling the cops on black or brown people)

(And now I remember, a couple years ago, there was a rash of people calling the cops when a restaurant was out of some food, or their chicken nuggets were cold, or some other ridiculous thing)

I dunno. This is one of those "Has this always happened and we're just now hearing about it because it's the hip current news story" things, maybe with a side of "there are cell phone cameras now to document this thing" (as I suspect) or is it a "this has gotten worse recently" thing.

But again, as I said: someone who was raised to only call the police if lives or property were clearly in danger, it seems really wrong and hinky to call them about "oh, there's a strange person in my neighborhood."

Hm. Maybe THIS is the logical conclusion of all the "if you see something, say something" post Sept.-11 propaganda, and the whole idea (I remember this from some years back) that you should fundamentally spy on your neighbors to be sure they're not terrorists....though it seems an awful lot of the people who do violence are "quiet" types who "mostly kept to themselves" and the neighbors "never knew."

But it does seem some people's behavior is getting worse. I heard someone talking the other day about how they loved to "stir the pot" and "trigger" people (using it in a joking but not really way, like bringing up someone's phobia to unsettle them). And my reaction to that is a giant "WHY?" Why would you make someone else's day worse? I mean, I get disagreeing with someone - though my usual MO when I disagree with someone is to sigh and say, "I don't see it that way" or else to just absent myself from whatever discussion.

(And I don't REALLY believe in karma but I really do think that God or the Universe or something notices when you're being a butt to other people, and it will come back to haunt you)

I just don't understand the joy in making other people upset. Maybe it's just me? But what makes me happy is either:

a. Someone is having a bad day and I either sympathize or send them a cat picture or try to do something to make it better, and it does, a little bit

b. I do or say something funny and people laugh. I LOVE that. I love being able to make people laugh at something funny. I wonder sometimes if it's because I spent so much of my childhood being laughed AT by my peers that having people laugh WITH me is a giant relief. But also, I just like making people happy.

c. Making food for people, or sharing my hobbies with people, that kind of thing. I like finding some common ground with a person. One of the things that makes me happiest is when I reveal some interest or bit of knowledge to a relatively-new acquaintance and they chuckle and say something like "I KNEW I had a reason for liking you."

I don't know. I wonder if the "stir the pot" people had a different childhood experience than I did - if they felt they were on the "top" of the pecking order instead of near the bottom. Or if other people's comfort (and also approval) doesn't matter to them. (Other people's approval probably matters too much to me; I sometimes try to win the approval of people I probably do NOT and should NOT be looking for approval from)

I spent so much time as a kid feeling weird and isolated and like no one understood me that it's a real joy now, as an adult, when I find someone who does understand me (or at least wants to try to). I've kind of been lonely all my life and on the outside looking in, and it's nice once in a while to feel a little bit like I'm on the inside, too. And I want to welcome other "outsiders" as much as I can.

But I do wonder if there's a common thread: people thinking they are the be-all and end-all and are the most important ones, and their attitudes matter more than those of other people. (The belief that one is always right...)

I don't know. I think again about how when I was a kid there was this little series of cartoons called "The Most Important Person in the World" which I guess was a sort of proto-self-esteem thing (though, this being the 1970s, there was also, as I remember, a heaping helping of understanding diversity, and putting yourself in the other guy's shoes). I know I didn't dream that up because Tina Fey wrote about it in her book (she and I are about the same age, i guess). She makes the point: "The Most Important Person In The World is a horrible lesson to teach small children, because most of them already kind of believe that they are" and yes, I think there's some truth to that, and part of the parents' job is to civilize those kids into understanding that other people matter, too. (My own parents probably did that job TOO well - as I said, the whole "let the other people go through the buffet line first" thing where I wind up not getting any deviled eggs...). Though it does seem to me more and more that I see people who act as though they believe the universe revolves around them ("I don't like their choice of music; the only option is to have them fired" when, yes, if the music featured a lot of profanity and maybe the n-word, yeah, maybe those students needed to tone it down - but a letter from the owner of the coffee shop explaining what are and are not appropriate lyrics would suffice). Or the person who pushes to the front of the line. Or who is loud in a public place where other people are waiting (like a doctor's waiting room). Or airing a grievance loudly in a mass meeting, where it would probably serve equally well (if not better) to go to the person you are aggrieved against and talking to them privately.

A lot of it, I think, comes down to making "your stuff" become "everyone else's stuff," even the innocent bystanders who don't want to be involved. And as someone who's been an innocent bystander on far too many of these things, I speak on behalf of my fellow innocent bystanders: we're sick of it, and please be a little more grown-up in the future and don't involve us in your drama.


Either the wind has brought in far more pollen, or the sudden high heat and humidity have done something, or something started flowering I'm allergic to: once again I'm tired and sort of on my last nerve. At least I finished one big task I need to do today.

Tomorrow is graduation and I confess I am unenthused. One of our best students who is graduating is apparently not planning to go as he has a job starting on Monday and he wanted to "rest up."* I don't know of anyone else I'm particularly close to who is graduating.

(*At least it's a job in his degree field, so we can count that as a win)

Graduation is long and loud and even in the air-conditioned arena it's hot...and I confess in this day and age I always twitch a little at the thought of SO MANY people massed in a place, and how symbolic it is - that you have essentially the entire higher-ed community in a town in one room, and while our campus police will be there, and some state troopers, there's only so much they could do if someone wanted to do something bad.

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