Earlier this summer when we were in Kansas City getting the house batteries replaced, Wholesale Batteries gave us VIP tickets to an outdoor concert at Sandstone Arena in KCK. We spent that much money. It was three tribute bands, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Eric Clapton and somebody else. Real memorable, right?
We had looked at the website regarding parking, cameras, smoking and food. After we got parked, we found our good seats and settled in. The first band was just OK. We had a $13 margarita (whar VIP?) and enjoyed the people watching during the show.
One thing we noticed and did not enjoy was that the people behind us were smoking. Heavily. There were smoking areas outside the seating they are supposed to use. Silly me, I thought maybe these folks didn’t know. I turned around and politely said to the girl behind me, “Excuse me, but it says No Smoking in the seats. There’s an area just outside. Thank you.”
She looked at me and said, “You better keep your mouth shut or you’re gonna get smacked.” She looked like she would enjoy it too.
What? Who says this? To a perfect stranger? At an entertainment venue? Where the rules are perfectly clear? I turned back around in shock. Such ugly and unpleasant behavior. Where do people get the idea it’s acceptable to act like this? Maybe she just came from a Donald Trump rally where it’s apparently not just OK, but encouraged, to denigrate and mock handicapped people, women and blacks. Not to mention Muslims and immigrants. And probably non-smokers.
Of course, she began smoking more and blowing it directly at us. This is not a nice person. I turned back around and asked her please not to blow the smoke at us. She said, “I told you to shut your fat mouth. I’m warning you.” I told her I was making a simple request and that most people would comply if they knew it was bothering somebody. She continued to smoke and smolder.
I got up and mentioned to one of the staff that people were smoking in the seats, and being extremely rude about it.The staffer immediately responded that they couldn’t possibly enforce that because they were so short staffed. Great.
Naturally our smoking friend saw me do this and when I came back to my seat, she started kicking the back of my seat. Not just a tap or two, but good solid, deliberate and continuous kicks. So I turned back around and asked her to not kick my seat PLEASE. Again, her response was rude and threatening. What to do?
The seat beside me was empty so I just moved over. Well, then she got her friend to kick the back of my seat in the same emphatic manner. I asked that person not to and she continued. By this time, the smoking girl had moved over behind Jim and was kicking his seat. It was like she was itching for a fight. How many times do you have to say PLEASE STOP THAT!?
Jim finally turned around and asked her “Why are you being so obnoxious?” She answered, “I told you to just turn around and shut up.”
They wouldn’t stop kicking so Jim said, “Let’s just stand up.” Ha! So we did. That quieted them down for a while because they couldn’t see anything. It was kind of difficult for us to enjoy the show though. I can’t remember the last time I was exposed to such unpleasant and threatening behavior. From someone I don’t even know…
A woman a few rows back came and asked us to sit down because they couldn’t see. We apologized and explained the situation, gesturing toward our smoking friend, who glowered at us. What can you do?
Finally we sat back down. I’m not sure if our smoking friend was suffering from tobacco poisoning by that time but at least they quit kicking our seats. The atmosphere was poisoned for us though. We decided to leave before the third band started. The whole encounter made me feel sad, not angry.
On the way back to the bus our conversation focused on the question: Why do people think it is acceptable to act like this? The election, which I have followed closely, and not just on Fox News, has somehow fomented the idea among Trump followers that it is OK to beat up protesters, use the N* word, smear and threaten to jail, even kill his opponent and demean women who hid their shame of sexual abuse for years for not being good looking enough. I understand that Donald Trump’s main line of attack is based on stirring up peoples’ ungrounded fears and he asserts that people are sick of political correctness. What they call political correctness is actually just civilized behavior. Don’t be rude. Don’t be mean. Be thoughtful and kind. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t interrupt. Listen, really listen to others. Be nice.
Anybody who knows me knows my political leanings. But this is about more than politics. This is about basic human decency, compassion and civilized behavior. Understanding others who are not like us and working with them . Realizing that only love will bring us into the light. We really are stronger together.
And in the end, only kindness matters.