Lincoln stared past me. His etched visage looking out towards somewhere in empty space contemplating some great cone disconnected from what the artist had posted as a quote below him.
“A house divided cannot stand.”
It’s written in script to give it an old timey solemnity. When quoting the bard, even if it is Lincoln quoting Shakespeare, the proper font is an absolute must.
Below that in garish block red letters “Remain Civil!”.
I found this somewhat amusing.
The State gently admonishing the dangers of anti-social behavior, then following it up with an implicit threat of authoritarian violence. Well done, guys.
Suddenly I felt myself shoved from behind as a fellow passenger at the Denver International Airport pushed past me hurriedly heading to his gate. No apologies or mea culpas would be forthcoming. He was late, and evidently I was, at least partially, in his way. He couldn’t be bothered to stop to acknowledge his offense. He didn’t give a shit.
This brought about my third sad chuckle of the day… and a realization that something has gone massively, horribly wrong.
Last week I was invited to Wisconsin to be one of four attorney presenters at the USCCA conference. It was an excellent experience. One of the most interesting aspects had to deal with my fellow presenters. One is an attorney out in Riverside whom I have heard of before. It was a pleasure to finally meet her. I suspect we are going to be marshaling forces and working on other cases going forward. The other two were from Iowa and Florida respectively. Comparing notes on criminal procedure with them was enlightening. Yes… they do things differently outside of California, as you would probably imagine, in my opinion, significantly better than we do. But that is not surprising.
Then there was the flight back.
I had booked myself on Frontier Airlines (yeah… we all make mistakes).
The flight was Sunday leaving from Milwaukee airport at noon and heading to Denver, a brief one-hour stopover in Denver and then onto Orange County arriving at 17:30.
At least that was the way it was supposed to happen.
The flight was delayed. Significantly. To the extent that I knew that I would be missing my connection in Denver. So… I went to work, since I had quickly ascertained that Frontier Airlines would be less than accommodating, I arranged for passage on Southwest out of Denver at a later time.
Alternative ticket in hand, I boarded my delayed flight to Denver. As it happened I had an assigned seat in 1C. This afforded me the opportunity to be in the relative proximity of the flight attendants and my fellow passengers as they boarded.
One woman boarded and made her way past me to her seat, evidently not her actual assigned seat.
This became problematic when the actual purchaser of that seat arrived and saw her sitting there. He produced his ticket and showed it to her, explaining he believed she might be sitting in his assigned seat.
Her response: “I want to sit here. Go find another place to sit.”
Fortunately for the gentleman, another flight attendant was close by and explained to her it did not work that way. This caused a back and forth discussion between the woman and the flight attendant that ultimately resulted in her standing in the galley area talking to the lead flight attendant.
There, now in my proximity, she told the flight attendant she wanted to sit in that particular seat. The flight attendant basically told her no.
Well. This was not the answer she was looking for… and a back and forth of wills began to ensue.
The flight attendant told her to behave, and well… the woman had no interest in complying with the demands of the flight attendant.
Now… as per my disposition… I am prone to take up arms against tyrants, those who would seek to impose their will on others. In this case I was legitimately befuddled. Both parties were equally tyrannical. The flight attendant was less then cordial, and the woman was equally abrasive.
This little dance of power ultimately resulted in the woman being thrown off the plane. (Frankly, the flight attendants might have done her a favor. The way things were going she was in jeopardy of being arrested for interfering with a flight crew.)
I couldn’t help thinking during the spectacle taking place: What was the woman thinking would be the outcome?
Seriously. What did she think was going to be the result of her invectives and shouts?
Did she honestly believe the flight attendant would suddenly pause and say, “Oh my God… you know what, you are right! Sit wherever your heart desires. In fact… we will move that other passenger for you right now.”?
Yet… she went “Mussolini on the balcony” anyway and suffered a similar, if not necessarily as permanent, fate.
When I did eventually get to Denver I had to take the airport train between terminals. On that train there was a father and daughter. When the train arrived at one of the middle terminals a “gentleman”, probably in his fifties, got up, pushed past the father and ended up shoving him in the process.
Rather than offer the father an apology for bumping into him. The other man simply said “move” as he pushed through and exited the train.
I began bursting out laughing.
The father looked at me with complete incredulity. “No. No… I’m not laughing at you, sir… quite the opposite. This is the third time I’ve seen anti-social behavior today. What is going on with us?”
The father just shook his head.
“Yeah… people I guess are stressed to the point where they have lost their manners.”
Perhaps he was right.
Or perhaps there is something more.
We have become a coarser, baser society. I have always suspected this was the natural evolution of the anonymity that comes with the internet, the ability to “comment” on postings, and the faceless interactions we now engage with as we navigate the commercial world.
Remote working, and the rise of narcissism seems to have equal proximate cause effects on our new paradigm of acceptable behavior.
Empathy seems to be a dying art, and we now see others as complete one dimensional constructs that exist to assist us, thwart us, or are generally neutral. They are, however, in all aspects completely disposable.
My new friend, Alan, the lawyer from Florida, told us a joke:
“How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer is one… he just holds the light bulb up and the universe spins around him.”
Perhaps that unencumbered sense of narcissism is now pouring out into the general population.
Regardless… it needs to come to an end.