I had narrated the story of how some people thought it was below them to talk courteously to the baristas at a coffeeshop a while ago. Here’s where you can read it: Is Courtesy Going Extinct? But that, perhaps, isn’t the only pertinent question. The question is, do we treat everyone like they’re beneath us if our work is in danger of being incomplete? If so, why is it that we think of ourselves as some sort of a God whose birth right it is to invade other people’s privacy and feel entitled to anything and everything?
Today, I have three stories to narrate to you. Two stories are of three men who thought it was okay to invade someone’s privacy (me), and the other was of a man who politely asked permission to sit down. The difference is stark in these two men and while the men in the first two stories pissed me off, the one in the third story made me smile. Because THAT, people, is how you treat other people’s privacy.
For a little bit of a background: I go to a café – Starbucks, to be precise – half an hour away from home because it is the kind of place that gives me comfort, privacy, and warmth. Not to forget that the atmosphere there somehow, magically transforms me into someone amazingly productive. All of these, plus the baristas there who are super friendly, make me want to go back there over and over again, irrespective of whether or not I’m having the coffee over there.
But now and again, there come entitled brats who think they own the place. They think they can sit at any table, even if someone else is already sitting there, and act as if the person sitting there is the intruder and not them. Here are two stories that have people acting like complete wads.
On a day when my favorite corner table had been occupied, I had to sit at one that was in the way. And just when I had gotten comfortable – which is a little difficult for me because I tend to get a little restless at other tables – a guy came up to me and asked me if anyone was coming. Nobody was coming anyway, but I usually like my privacy as I work. But since the café was full at that point, I figured it was okay and he would relocate to another table as soon as he found one. So I said no, meaning that he could sit there for the time being.
The guy behaved like it was HIS table in the first place, pulled out the chair with a force and a scratch on the floor that grated at my ears, and thumped down, heaving a sigh of relief. Nothing indicated that he was only there for a short while. He proceeded to pull out his laptop, opened it and pushed it such that my cup of coffee almost toppled over, and settled down as if it was his birth right. Not to forget his loud phone calls and his annoying friend who kept coming back and speaking with him.
I’m not a confrontational person at all. I usually try to wait until the person understands they’re doing something wrong. And I glared at them in this moment because by now, even my laptop was struggling to get some place. They, on the other hand, had become so comfortable and were talking loudly without regard for my privacy, that it was taking all my energy not to lash out at them.
A table cleared out behind us and despite my looking at them pointedly, they had no intention of getting up and leaving. Appropriating my table seemed to be a completely normal thing for them, and since they seemed stupid enough that they didn’t have the common courtesy to give someone who was working their privacy, I stood up, gathered my things, and went to sit at the other table. But not before throwing them a disgusted look. They probably understood or they were shameless enough to see it and be happy that they got someone to desert their table for them.
Either way, courtesy took a beating on that day.
Another day, at the same café, I was sat at one of the bigger, 4-seater tables behind which were charging points. These tables are big enough that one would be comfortable enough in their own private bubble even if someone sat opposite them. And so I thought it would happen when a guy came over, looking for a charging point. Since I wasn’t using it at the moment, I was happy enough for him to use it. Provided he sat opposite me.
But no. Once the guy had asked if he could sit there, he proceeded to unpack his bag and turn it towards the seat beside mine, meaning he was preparing to sit beside me. I was stunned and angry because of two reasons. One, he was invading my privacy. Two, he had the audacity to think that he was entitled to do so, that he could sit anywhere he wanted irrespective of what the person already sitting at the table would feel. He could have plugged the charger in and sat opposite me and I would have been completely okay with it, but no. That would just not have cut it for him.
Like I mentioned before, I’m not a confrontational person. But if I’m pissed off, you will know by my actions. And the way I glared at him, he knew I was angry. But you know what he made of it? He behaved as if I was the one overreacting and he waited for someone at a different table to leave so that he could go and sit there. My exasperated ‘You want to sit here?’ as I pointed at the seat beside mine apparently offended him. And that’s the kind of behaviour that I will not stand.
Being butthurt when someone, especially a woman, calls you out for invading their privacy is a cheap tactic to show your toxic male ego to the world. The people at the table beside mine, two of them women, stared at ME when this happened. What does that tell us? To pamper and encourage male ego? But why should I? It was MY privacy that was invaded. And in a world that has trampled upon female thoughts for so long, I will NOT being cowed down by such entitled brats.
This might be a trifling matter, but it’s these matters that show us how so many people think it’s okay to think of women’s privacy isn’t a thing at all.
Now this might be a story that shows one of two things (or both), depending on how you see it:
- How one should treat someone else’s privacy and then respect it.
- How a man will always respect another man’s privacy, but will feel entitled when it comes to appropriating a table at which a woman is seated.
So this was at the same café on a different day, when I had luckily gotten to sit at my favorite corner table. I was on a roll, getting task after task completed, and was absolutely chipper. From time to time, I would look around, a slight smile on my face – enough to show my contentment but not to make me look like I was demented.
This table, at which another café regular, Man #1, was seated, was at the corner to the left of one of those bigger 4-seater tables. So on one of my recces of the café, I saw another man (Man #2) come inside and look for a charging point in a hurry. He put down his bag opposite Man #1 and asked him if anyone was there. On hearing a no and getting a nod to indicate that he could sit there, he prepared to settle down opposite him. And when he saw that the charging point behind Man #1 was free, Man #2 asked him if he could use it.
Man #1 nodded. He wriggled between tables to get there and Man #1 helped Man #2 in plugging the charger in. It was then that déjà vu happened. As I looked on, Man #2 looked around, and then asked – pay attention here – he ASKED Man #1 if he could sit beside him. He asked for permission. And I went, “Oh my God, why couldn’t that idiot have been like this? Things would have gone so much better!”
When Man #1 said, “Would you mind sitting across the table? The charger does come up till there,” Man #2 nodded, said “No problem,” and settled down across from him.
I was like, “WHAT KIND OF MAGIC IS THIS? DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO THIS? WOWOWOW!” And I actually smiled. A full blown smile, without any restrictions, because that is how courtesy works. You ask. And then you respect their privacy. If you don’t, you could easily be termed an ass. It isn’t that difficult to understand.
In hindsight, I don’t know if Man #2 would have asked for permission if a woman were sat there, but going by his mannerisms and behaviour, I have a feeling he would definitely have. He wouldn’t have asked to sit beside her in the first place. Intuition and observation tells me this. So I’m wont to give him the benefit of the doubt.
* * * * *
The difference is clear to see with these three stories. But there is one thing that’s pretty dang clear: Courtesy is dying. Masculinity still has that fragile ego and a sense of entitlement that hasn’t found sense yet. But we’ll get there sometime. I might be bombarded by the ‘not all men’ shtick and my feelings will most likely be invalidated. And to all those people, just read whatever you’re posting before you do it. Also, put yourself in my shoes before you say anything. Because if you don’t understand, I can’t make you understand.
Thanks for taking the time to read such a long ass narrative. It took me quite a while to start writing this, but once I did, everything just came rushing out. It’s cathartic and makes me feel quite light on the inside. 🙂
See you in the next blog post. Until then, keep reading and keep adding melodrama to your life! 🙂