A wise man once told me there are two kinds of people in the world. Whenever I come across an interaction with other people that annoys me I find this wisdom rings true. Think about it, it really is true.
Take parking. Anyone living in a busy city would know how difficult it can be to find a car park. Imagine you have the choice to park thoughtfully, thus maximising the limited available parking spaces. You find a spot that can easily accommodate two cars with driveways at either end for quick exits.
If you’re like me you park at the edge of the space to leave maximum space for the person who will park behind you. If you’re in that second category you park smack bang in the middle of the space ensuring your car won’t be bumped and you and you alone can park here. Other people can just go elsewhere as you now have a fabulous parking space.
Supermarket queues. I’m sure I’m not alone standing there wishing I was elsewhere watching some spotty kid repeat mindless rote learned greetings when the manager magnanimously decides to open another checkout. Are you the kind of person who allows the people queuing before you to move to the newly opened checkout in an orderly fashion where everyone maintains their place in the queue? Or are you that second category who races to the next line ahead of all those who have patiently waited and high fives your companion on achieving this victory over the mere mortals around you?
Quiet carriages on trains are provided to ensure those passengers who wish to merely catch the train in quiet contemplation can do so uninterrupted by mindless conversations on mobile phones or music leaking out of the headphones of the soon to be deaf person seated next to them. It is not the place for loud raucous laughter or exuberant conversations. It is not the place to watch that video you need to catch up on without headphones with no regard for those around you, who have no interest in your entertainment tastes or lack of thereof.
A middle-aged woman in the quiet carriage launches a phone call to a medical practice. Pacing around the carriage for more than 20 minutes leaning against the Quiet Carriage signs she berates the recipient on the other end about a medical appointment to come. Revealing enough information for us to launch a search party to hunt her down because everyone on the train knew where, when and whom she was to meet the next day. Reclining comfortably in the vestibule seat she starts berating the recipient again.
Patience exhausted I point to the ‘Quiet Carriage’ sign. She ignores me so I point and ask “Can you read?”
Loud Woman responds: “You are being very rude. How dare you speak to me like that? How dare you raise your voice? You need to show some respect.”
It crossed my mind to respond: “Madam, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to never have to speak to you at all but as you have been on the phone loudly in the Quiet Carriage for more than 20 minutes I want you to know we do not want to listen to your personal medical problems. As for being rude you have shown no consideration for anyone present disregarding the Quiet sign contrary to the conditions of riding in this carriage. Feel free to get off the train.”
My real response: “Please take your phone call to another carriage and go annoy other people not in the Quiet Carriage.”
Loud Woman sulks, lowers her voice then ends the call, but really if she was more considerate she would not have made that phone call on the train in the first place and certainly not at the top of her voice in the Quiet Carriage, nor would she think that being called out on her breach of social niceties was ‘rude’.
Thoughtful people would apologise and desist. But alas Loud Woman is that second category of person and cannot look in the mirror. For her edification I announced “two types of people those that consider others and those that don’t”.
It aligns with the pop philosophy that random acts of kindness make the world a better place. In the interests of world peace I suggest those in the second category all move somewhere together where they can push, shove and deafen each other into extinction.