Prepare yourselves, this is a long one.
If you haven’t seen The IT Crowd, you should. It’s funny and on Netflix!
Okay, gather ’round children, I’m going to tell you a story. It needs a little bit of background, so bear with me a bit.
I work at a theatre in Beverly Hills. The majority of our patrons are fairly wealthy and (as seems to go hand and hand with such people) extremely entitled. I’ve learned to deal with such people over the years, because unfortunately you see the same kind of entitlement with people who go out to eat at restaurants. I’ve mastered the form of politeness that says “now back off, you’ll get no further with me”. It helps that I open my eyes really big and pitch my voice slightly higher and suddenly they feel like they’re arguing with a wounded animal or something.
This past Saturday we had a family show going on, which mean the night showing was at 7pm, an hour earlier than shows often are on Saturday nights. However, this show was sold as a family show, it says 7pm on the ticket, and this ridiculous human was the ONLY one who showed up at 7:45 thinking it started at 8. It’s probably a good thing I had relieved the usher who had been working the front desk, as only years dealing with a certain type of person can prepare you to have someone walk up to your desk, slam their hand down and yell “You need to call the police and find out if I’m going to get a ticket for where I’m parked!”
After a moments hesitation during which I reminded myself it would not be appropriate for me to invite her to take her hefty loudmouth to someone more interested in her predicament, I said “You know what ma’am, I don’t actually know the number for Beverly Hills information services” (because why on earth would her first inclination be to call the police?) “and I don’t have access to the internet here, but if you wouldn’t mind giving me a moment I’m happy to find it out for you.” She reared up like that spitting dinosaur in Jurassic Park.
Before I could lift my bemused behind out of the chair more than a few inches she yelled “I DON’T have TIME for that! Just call 911!”
At this point I’m fairly sure I was wearing my ‘exactly what brand of stupid do you qualify as’ face, but I calmly replied “Now, ma’am, I do not feel comfortable calling emergency services to ask about a parking matter. Please give me a moment and I’ll get the answer to your question.”
I wish I had a picture that could accurately portray the look of incredulity on this woman’s already unpleasant face. Imagine, if you will, a large older woman wearing a ridiculous hat hunched over a walker (that she hasn’t used the last couple of times I’ve seen her at the theatre, because she was unfortunately familiar) looking at me like I had just threatened to behead a puppy in her living room.
“It DOESN’T MATTER! JUST CALL 911! It’s bad enough I missed most of the SHOW because it started at 7! CALL THE POLICE AND ASK ABOUT MY PARKING! CALL 911!” Folks this lady had now taken to swinging both arms erratically in my personal bubble so I stood up and said,
“No ma’am. I am not calling 911 for a parking related manner” and walked away without looking at her again so I could go ask someone else. I got an answer from the box office and was walking back to tell her when I hear her berating the poor girl in our pop-up candy shop, asking her if she had internet or a phone and intermittently yelling about how “that GIRL wouldn’t even call THE POLICE!”
I interrupted her tirade to tell her that as far as we were aware, she should be fine after 6PM. Once again I’m hit with a face that would only be appropriate if I had just regurgitated my dinner and invited her to partake in it. “Well THAT doesn’t sound right! Call the police and ASK them! It doesn’t matter!”
At this point I’ve stopped listening to her entirely even though she is continuing to yell at any human being in her vicinity. Thankfully I was able to pass her along to someone else and the kid I had relieved for his break came back. I heard various stories as the night went on of her dealings with my other coworkers.
What’s funny is she had a legitimate complaint. For some reason, the parking meters in Beverly Hills don’t have signs detailing when you can park there. I guess they couldn’t feasibly bedazzle the signs with diamonds, and since nothing else is befitting of good old BH they just decided to go without. For some reason this extremely irate person decided the only answer to this problem would be to come in and demand that the first poor scrub she saw (me) call 911 and find out.
Why do people behave like this? I can’t tell you how many times I had people get upset with me about how expensive a dish was, or how there wasn’t enough tequila in their margarita, or how they had to wait for an hour on a Saturday night to get sat and why couldn’t I do anything about that?
I think it’s because human beings are inherently cruel and lazy, and that’s something we have to work to overcome. Some do, and they become great people who accomplish wonderful things and are spectacular friends to have and they die content with their time here. If my time working in industries that put me face to face with the dregs of America has taught me anything, its that most do not even try to overcome this. They feel justified in their anger and well, seeing as I’m the one who’s right there they see no reason at all not to take it out on me. After a while I got past the point of racing to get to the kitchen so I could fold myself into the corner and cry. I just upped the wattage on my smile, put on that saccharine sweetness (all the southerners in the house know exactly what I’m talking about, bless their hearts) and decided I would no longer invest even a modicum of stress on that type of person.
And I haven’t for a while. I’m happier for it. So you can yell at me all you want, ridiculous people of the world. All you’re going to get is a smile, and I’m going to very conveniently forget you wanted some more creamy jalepeno.