The "me" generation has buried its ideals in American society like a tick. I am thoroughly convinced that the concept of "we" as it relates to society at large, is gone. As the TV and Internet has driven us back into our caves and isolation, common courtesy and manners have fallen by the wayside. Why am I kvetching about this today? Let me explain my day yesterday.
I was at the gym doing my normal cardio routine on the elliptical trainer. A fellow gym goer was prepping the machine he was about to use by spraying it down with disinfectant provided by the gym (this is usually done post workout but this guy must really be afraid of catching something from gym equipment). As he was spraying it down he blasted me twice in the leg so much that the liquid started dripping down my leg and into my cross trainers. I shot him a look and even made a huge display of wiping my leg down, in the hopes of gleaning an apology. There was nothing. I know he saw me and I know he knew what he had done. The gym is like a microcosm of society, everyone working on personal goals in a group setting. Its imperative that everyone follows the rules of common courtesy such as putting away your weights when you are done, putting your towels in the towel bin and taking turns using the equipment. Not following these rules causes chaos and the gym doesn't function properly.
I was angry that this guy soaked me and then stared forward at the TV suspended from the ceiling, self absorbed in his workout and "Regis and Kelley, Live". I focused my anger on my workout. I upped the level on the cross trainer and pumped away. A few minutes later as I was watching "Sports Center" the TV suddenly changed to CNN. I occasionally watch CNN, I prefer MSNBC, but the guy who sprayed me changed the channel I was watching even though he was watching Regis. I tapped him politely on the arm and said "excuse me, I was watching that". He was flummoxed. "Oh, you were watching that? What channel was it?". "49", I said. He changed the channel, then changed the channel on his TV to CNN. No apology. I stared at him for a moment in amazement. It took lots of self control not to pound this guy. I, instead, focus on my routine.
Not one minute later the man to my right finished his workout and started to clean his machine. I felt a cold blast of liquid cover my arm from the elbow to the wrist. I had been sprayed again. I turned to the guy and bellowed "Excuse Me!". He appeared startled, as if he were waked in the middle of the night by an intruder. He had been so self absorbed in his own activity that he truly had no idea what I was talking about. "You just sprayed me down.", I said in a more civil tone, but forceful nonetheless. "Oh, I didn't realize, I was.." and he went back to cleaning his machine off. No apology.
Both of these guy were between 55 and 60 and just reinforced my belief that the generation that professed love and togetherness has become the most self centered, self absorbed generation in recent world history. They have a sense of entitlement that is unequaled amongst generations, but they are not alone. As I made my drive home from the gym I drove through downtown Northampton. Northampton is a quaint little city of 30,000 with lots of shops and restaurants. It has vibrant downtown area that is perfect for walking and people watching. I usually don't drive through downtown on the way home from the gym, being a little out of the way, but occasionally I like to see whats going on. There are a myriad of crosswalks in town and the traffic laws are strictly enforced to ensure the safety of the walkers, which are the life blood of the city. As I approached one of the crosswalks there was a twenty-something girl on her cell phone walking slowly across the walk. Half way across the walk, directly in front of my car, she stopped, completely engrossed in her conversation. She stood directly in front of my vehicle for a good twenty seconds. Just as I was about to blast on the horn the car behind me blasted on theirs. The girl looked up from her conversation and realized that she wasn't standing on the island in the median, but in front of my vehicle. Instead of apologizing, she flipped me off! I wasn't even the one that blasted their horn, but my kids and I bore the brunt of her unwarranted anger. I rolled my window down and asked,"why did you flip me off?". The girl said "Fuck you" and walked briskly, now, toward the other side of the street. The car behind me blasted their horn, now because I was clogging up traffic, so I continued home.
More to come tomorrow.