Opinion | Biff America: Large lineman, wet lawyer
I once knew a defensive lineman named Bo-Bo. I’m guessing he weighed well over 225 pounds.
I now know a lawyer named Steve. I won’t guess his weight since I have not seen him in person for many decades. That said, by his photo, he is the smaller of the two.
Bo-Bo and Steve are the same person.
Steve was enjoying lunch at a ski resort after a great day on the slopes. It had snowed overnight and continued lightly throughout the day. Though I have seen Bo-Bo play football I have never seen Steve ski. I know he has been enjoying it all his adult life so I assume him to be an expert of sorts.
All that aside, Steve and his mate were having lunch at a fancy slopeside restaurant. (Since Bo-Bo evolved into Steve, his tastes seem to have gotten more refined.) They were seated at a preferred table by the windows but near the door while reveling in the afterglow of a great day.
Their pre-meal mimosas were interrupted when it began to snow on their table. Some guy (late 20s) was holding the door open while looking/waiting for a friend. The hostess, seeing that snow was blowing through the door onto Steve’s table, approached the young man and asked him to close the door. The guy pointedly ignored her.
The lineman in Bo-Bo wanted to get up and shut the door with the offender on the outside. The lawyer in Steve opted to simply tell him firmly to do what the hostess had asked.
The guy then transformed from inconsiderate to abusive in an instant and started berating Steve for his gall to demand a snowless meal. I’m sure at that moment Steve and Bo-Bo had an internal dialogue. Bo-Bo suggested one course of action, while Steve reminded him that such a course of action could result in a lawsuit.
That is all I know of the event. I tried to stick to the facts. (A refreshing change for me.)
Steve described the encounter on social media and asked his friends for their/our thoughts regarding the prevailing lack of civility evident in these times.
As is often the occasion in this divisive era, some lunkheads tried to attach politics to bad behavior. “Must have been a liberal.” “You should have knocked off his MAGA hat.” I hope they were all kidding, but I fear not.
Then there were those that diagnosed it as symptomatic of the age of the offender. “Entitlement of youth — ‘me generation’ —selfish millennials.”
There was even some speculation that since the restaurant was slopeside at a ski resort, the jerk must have been wealthy, so it goes to follow the affluent are more likely to be pompous.
Then, a retired public school teacher weighed in. “I think he was just a jerk, every generation and social economic class has them.”
Another educator stepped into the fray, this one a retired college professor of 30 years. She echoed the assertions of the public school teacher and added an endorsement of the next generation. “They are smart, motivated, educated and facing challenges that they politically engaged.” She maintained the next generation will do us proud addressing the nation’s problems that we will have left them.
I long ago came to the conclusion, while working in the service industry, that it is much harder being a jerk than serving one. I don’t think “jerk-itis” has anything to do with political leanings, age, wealth or lack thereof. I think it is more from an absence of empathy. Some people are incapable of seeing the world through the eyes of anyone’s but their own.
Now granted, other than being a head case myself, I have no mental health expertise. But it is my contention that in addition to the better known psychological maladies — bipolar, schizophrenia — lack of empathy, or otherwise being a jerk and quick to anger, are symptoms of a mental illness.
For me this has been a comforting assumption because it depersonalizes the acts of those who piss me off. As such, it is easier to dismiss dickish behavior as a disease rather than a choice. In other words when folks are rude to you, it’s not “to you,” it’s because they are nuts. Now certainly this didn’t cause Steve’s table to be any less snowy, but it did keep that rude guy from meeting my old pal Bo-Bo………….
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or Shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul.
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