Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream...Part 2

I yelled yesterday morning.

I was pushing Maya in her stroller just after we left Miguel when we passed a 7th grader headed towards the middle school. Two friends of his passed him on bikes, and one of them sort of taunted him by saying, “Hey, how’s it going?”

The long blond haired walker, who was hauling his backpack, immediately responded, “F*** you.” Then he paused for a brief moment and unleashed two more f-bombs at the kids cycling away from him.

I turned back and shouted, “Hey!” The kid glanced back at me, surprised, I think, that he’d been caught. He just kept walking to school, silently.

Maya looked up at me and said, “Why are you yelling, daddy?”

Had someone told her about my pledge not to yell?

“I screamed because he used bad words,” I said.

That seemed to satisfy Maya because she didn’t ask me anything else. She may have also been preoccupied with our mission that morning before I dropped her off at preschool: hot chocolate at Starbuck’s.

I didn’t feel badly about raising my voice. On the contrary, the kid needed to know his behavior was unacceptable, especially in front of a three-year-old munching on a S’mores-flavored Z Bar.

So then I started wondering about why some people think it’s socially permissible to unleash a torrent of swear words in public? I am no social or personal prude, but I think restraint can be an admirable value and goal to work toward especially in view of minors.

Miguel and I were at a San Francisco 49ers preseason game recently, about six rows behind a drunken 30-something in a Bruce Lee t-shirt who kept pointing haphazardly at people around him and shouting, “What the f*** are you looking at? You pussies. What the f*** are you gonna do about it? Huh?!?”

Then he’d point at his t-shirt and raise both middle fingers to further taunt those around him. Fortunately, no one rose to the beer-sodden challenge of the loser and attempted to shut him up, thereby possibly instigating a larger incident.

But Miguel and I did see a few fights in the stands, which I am sure were fueled by excessive amounts of alcohol. He was slightly scared, and I was extremely uncomfortable and unhappy. At least, though, we hadn’t paid for our seats. They’d been a gift from friends.

Now I know all I had to do was either text (OK, I have never texted) or call security and the offender[s] would be removed from the stadium. But I didn’t. It was easy to shout at some unknown 12-year old walking to school, but scarier about being part, even in an anonymous way, of a confrontation with an alcohol-addled hothead.

I think I did say something to a guy at an Oakland A’s game once because he was just behind Miguel and me. He was swearing at some of the players from the opposing team and he may have insulted Ken Griffey Jr.’s mother. So I wasn’t going to let his verbal excess in Miguel’s presence continue. He quickly acquiesced without any further problems.

I am not advocating a return to 1950s civility, but I do wonder if in this age of social networking some people feel emboldened to speak their minds in whatever fashion they prefer at particular moments?

Not yelling is still my goal. Just don’t swear within earshot of my family or me and then you can avoid provoking my inner and outer screamer, which might be ironic since I am begging for an infusion of social restraint.

No comments:

Post a Comment