Thursday, 28 February 2013

Stroppy? Who? Me?

Perhaps it is increasing old age, but my levels of tolerance seem to be diminishing. While waiting to be served in the bank last week, I suggested to a young woman that if she wanted to have an extended personal conversation upon her mobile phone, she should go outside, instead of subjecting all the other customers to her loud conversation.

This modest suggestion rapidly developed into a rather startling brawl. She did not take kindly to my suggestion, and immediately accused me of being a nasty old woman, racist, who could not abide hearing anyone speaking in a language other than English, accused me of being a stupid ugly old woman, thought I wanted foreigners to be put into concentration camps, or to be deported, and who could see no reason why she should consider modifying her behaviour because of being in a business premises. Goodness gracious me! Obviously I have no right to exist, let alone mildly suggest that consideration for other people should modify her public behaviour.

I felt very upset because of this, as I am not a very disputatious person - although living with Dr P, who never hesitated to dish it out to others, while not necessarily accepting that sauce for the gander was sauce for the goose, should have prepared me for such a reaction.

But increasingly I feel that I should not have to put up with, or tolerate, the bad language or bad behaviour of other people. Perhaps I am just getting cranky, the effect of old age and the vicissitudes of life.

Yesterday while walking to the bus stop I came across three female high school students who were standing together and talking. Every second word was 'Fuck'.  I am not exaggerating.   They were talking happily and amicably together. So I stopped, and having learned a modicum of caution after the experience in the bank, and said, politely and pleasantly:

'Excuse me. Can you tell me why you all swear so much? You are all bright, attractive and intelligent girls, so why is it that you use such language so frequently?'

They all looked rather embarrassed. We talked a bit, but they just said that they did not feel it was swearing, it just came out casually.

 I hope I gave them pause for thought. This is probably a vain hope. I hope my grandchildren do not grow up using such language. At least not every second word.

I wonder whether the young students - from 13 upwards - talk like this at home, at school or generally. Where do they learn it? Is it permitted in schools? At home? Does no one give them any standards of behaviour, private or public?

I live close to a high school - a selective school, and the students walk past my house every morning and afternoon, and the swearing is constant, incessant, and noisy.

There is a lot of hypocrisy about the use of swearwords. Some time ago a Federal minister swore at a press conference, in an off the cuff remark, and the heavens opened, and he was generally abused - and in my view, rightly so. But on TV shows the word is regularly used, and no one seems to bat an eyelid, let alone press the bleep button. So what gives?

I am over it. As they say.


Maalai said...

Thanks for the information... I really love your blog posts... specially those on Local Tamil News

Pam said...

Yes, I know. Good for you, though, for doing your bit.

Sorry about the anniversary - I hope things will get easier. It's impossible not to regret things. I did a lot for my mum and saw a lot of her, but I now wish I'd lingered longer for a chat than I sometimes did. I was busy but now I'd love to sit with her and have a cup of tea again.

molly said...

Ah, you old fossil you! But I have to say I'm just as fossilized as you---and glad of it, if not being so means the incessant and cheerful cursing, especially by beautiful young girls who look like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths----until they open them---doesn't appall me!
As for the morons who assume we're all fascinated by their (not so) private lives that they inflict them on people trapped in waiting rooms, so that even if you've brought along a book for the wait you haven't a prayer of being able to concentrate on it---good for you for standing up for decency!

Frances said...

The first incident must have been very shaking, IP, to be abused like that, with such aggression.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry that the woman in the bank became so aggressive. Perhaps she realised that she was in the wrong and immediately launched into 'attack is the best means of defence' mistake. Such an ugly reaction. You didn't say how other people reacted, but I suspect that they 'lay low, saying nuffin'. Which is also wrong. That would have shaken me up for days, but I hope that I would have said something. Both to the telephone user, and in your defence.
Quite recently I saw a small boy of about five or six call his mother a fucking bitch when she refused to buy him something in the supermarket. And no, she didn't say anything about his language, so I suspect that is is learned at home. Awful.

Anonymous said...

Ah. Two days ago I was in line next to a gentleman who was talking loudly and vociferously upon his mobile about: "I don't want to see you, I came here for peace and quiet, I don't care what you wanted, I'm not here for you" and on and on and on at the TOP of his lungs. The very top. He was next in line to be served and it was all I could do to keep a straight face and not start laughing at him outright. I think laughter and public shame out to be the correct course of action. Even an idiot understands laughter, yes?