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Something About Some Things

One boy's education is another man's lesson not ever learned...

With loathing and contempt, I leered at him, not truly believing that he’d done what we’d just witnessed. It was a selfish act of entitlement and overcompensation; an action which I could not teach, condone, or subscribe.

He saw us watching, stopped, and glared back at us, almost daring me to engage his irreverence. I dearly wanted to. My blood boiled and my trigger finger itched. It was a teachable moment and someone needed to learn a lesson.

But I refrained. For him, it was not my lesson to teach.

The casually-dressed, prematurely greying, professional-looking man had a disturbing look and feel about him, like the warning sound of a rattler, coiled and ready to strike. The man wanted to battle, taunting my possibly misaligned civility while trying to incite a confrontational response.

During the brief moment held by our shared stared standoff, I sensed that he knew what he had done was wrong. Society has rules. Most are meant to be followed, not broken. Just like proper manners, rules are a social lubricant fashioned to help make things for everyone operate more smoothly.

I could tell that he understood those rules, and was maybe even a custodian or worse, a highly-paid manipulator of those rules. We’d probably even agree that some rules are to be questioned. Regardless, most if not all are to be followed. Especially this one. It was subtle, considerate and meaningful, and had been created in its connected and symbolic way, for the betterment of society.

However, for him, this was not about right or wrong, good or bad, or doing what’s best for his fellow woman or man. It was all about what he felt he was owed, and what the world should do for him. He didn’t care whom his behaviour affected. That concern was beneath him. And that too, he wanted the world to know.

He didn’t drive his shiny, six-figure, possibly-leased Tesla because it was a conscious environmental choice. He chose it for its ludicrous mode. He wanted to be able to gloat that he drove the fastest production car on the planet, accelerating from zero-to-sixty quicker than most everything, including what he did not realize - the validating display of his insecurity.

He didn’t park in the area next to us, the one clearly designated for expecting mothers and people with young children because there were no other available parking spots. He did so, straddling the painted line and seized both designated stalls because he felt that it was his for the taking. He felt that he and his perceived, caste-like status were entitled.

Nor did he rationalize that he was just going into the building for a second, and that there were other nearby parking spots that could be utilized, if needed while he attended to his business. No, that’s not why he put his instant gratification ahead of another’s potential and appreciative needs. He did so because he was not taught, nor did he learn, that in a socially structured society, egocentric behaviour such as his, was frowned upon, inappropriate, and destructive.

“That,” I said to my young son, “is one Grade-A asshole. He never learned his lesson. He’s a bully that never grew up. A man-child. He probably needs a hug. It must be awful going through life with so much rage.”

My children comedically scold me for swearing in their presence, but this time, my son observed the lesson of time and place, and remained silent in total agreement and complete understanding of what I’d said.

That day, we all learned something about some things - especially me - since some time ago, this self-taught man-child was once the uneducated boy.

 

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