I’ve been publicly ‘outed’ as an ill-mannered boor and a disgrace !
It all happened at a shopping-centre coffee shop. There we were, queueing for two coffees and debating whether I could get away with a packet of fruit and oat biscuits all to myself. Other Half was agonising about having put on four stone since yesterday (or something) so dare not eat anything more for the next fortnight.
There was a man in front of me in the queue. He hadn’t moved forward, nearer the till, as I tried to edge my fingers round the packet of biscuits. Yes, I probably did brush against him. He asked loudly “Are you aware that I’m here ! You could say Excuse Me !”
I immediately gushed with apologies. Over the top, really ! “I DO beg your pardon !” It was probably obvious I didn’t mean a word of it. The casting of my eyes to heaven in the exchanged glance with the barrista probably conveyed my true feelings. He could have moved forward a bit. Maybe he had issues about staying behind the line to afford full confidentiality to the customer currently at the till.
So how did I get to be this outcast from society ? I am Scottish and educated in a Catholic seminary. I don’t easily shake hands even, so how do I become this rugby scrum groper ?Am I turning into the militant pensioner who elbows young people aside to ensure my continuing rights ?Am I going through ‘The Change’ ? Or is it just that my stars were in a particular alignment on that day which allowed me little control over my actions ?
To what degree do we label people in our lives ? One of the worst I’ve heard was, of a young man, “You’ll never change him ! He’s a born petty thief !” “Stealing-itis” isn’t a condition I am aware of ! We trade terms like ‘learning disability’ and ‘mental health problems’ as if they offered a comprehensive summary of an individual’s whole being.
But it’s more widespread ! “Posh”. “Daily Mail reader ” . “Luddite !” I use labels as much as the next man. They don’t really tell me anything.
Other Half, ten minutes later, remarked “That grumpy old guy’s left now !” I inwardly high-fived her. She and me together against the world !