People are always saying that the internet has changed us for the worse. That we’re more violent than ever, more cruel than before, because we don’t see the immediate consequences of our actions–it isn’t real. We have a generation of children who will grow up to be adults who don’t understand how much the things they say and do can hurt other people. After what I experienced today, I would venture that it’s not the internet to blame–and that we’re going through a fall in our civilization already that will only get worse.
Case in point: the kids and I stopped at BJ’s Wholesale Club to get some gas on our way to a child’s birthday party. They have the best prices in town, but you can only fill up with your membership card–it’s an exclusive benefit that you technically pay to get (I’d like to think I’m still saving money after paying the annual fee, but that’s a whole other discussion). There are 8 pumps at this particular station, with hoses long enough to reach either side of the car, so you can pull up to any of them . No biggie. Sometimes there are lines, but the wait is never long.
I pulled up to the far right set of pumps behind someone else who was just starting to gas up, turned the truck off, and started searching my purse for my BJ’s card. Usually it’s right on one end or the other of my cards in the wallet, but today it was being elusive. I searched. I searched. And then the honking started.
Ignoring it at first, I continued on with my search. But as it persisted, I started to get flustered, shouting to myself (because clearly there was no one else I could have been talking to) that I was looking for the card. The honking didn’t let up and, for some reason, I felt I had to explain myself. I opened the door a crack to let the insistent driver behind me know that I was seeking my membership card and to ask them to please be patient.
Instead, the driver, an elderly man with a full head of white hair, opened the door of his bright, red truck, climbed out, and proceeded to throw a litany of profanity at me. Baffled, all I could reply was, “Please, there are children in my car!” He shouted that I should have had my card ready when I pulled up and continued to swear. Everyone was staring, but nobody offered any assistance.
Stunned and shaking, I got back into the driver’s seat, turned the car on, and pulled away from the pumps. I parked my car to the side of them, considering for a minute if this was something that should be reported to the police, or was I blowing it out of proportion?
And that, right there, is the problem. I wrote down his license plate number, but did nothing with it. I continued to shake as I drove down the street. And then the waterworks came as it hit me that I was just verbally assaulted, in front of my children, and nobody cared. They all looked at me, with mixtures of pity and god-knows-what-else on their faces, but not a one defended me. Nobody called out that man for blowing the whole situation out of proportion–since when was it okay to treat another human being in such a manner over having to wait 2 minutes at the gas pump? But apparently it is. And I enabled him by not doing a thing about it. What a horrible example I am for my children.
I sit here an hour and a half after it happened and I’m still shaking. Kindness to our fellow man is gone. Decency is out the window. And we only have ourselves to blame.