The Epidemic of Arseholes.

November 16, 2007 at 12:10 am (Uncategorized)

There’s a great quote I came across on my desk calendar last week. It’s by a guy called John Andrew Holmes. I have no idea who he is, but I do like the cut of his gib. Here it is:

“It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”

Ain’t that the truth? But this quote gave me particular pause because on current evidence, so many people in Sydney have wholesale disregarded this truth in favour of “I am the only person in the universe,” a mantra they repeat and act out over and over in an endless procession of selfish thoughts and deeds. I am sick of it. ‘The Death of the Unspoken Rule’ was one thing, and that was bad enough, but now it’s a full-blown abandonment of all the rules about how we should treat others. There’s no other way to report it: it’s an epidemic of arseholes.

Yesterday Llew called me from the Jet Cat to tell me that he’d only just made it on. As always during peak hour, there was a huge queue, and plenty of people missed out. He was one of the last ones on. But there was one lady, he said, and he was still in shock about it, who pushed in ahead of the queue and barged her way past all the people politely waiting their turn. As you do. When queried, she apparently said words to the effect of “What? There are two ways of getting on, and this is mine.”

Oh my God. The arrogance of it. The sheer arrogance of it… And I think it’s that gross assumption that her time is so much more valuable than everyone else’s. I think that’s what really sticks in my gut. If she had tried to push past me in that situation, I would have berated her until the entire wharf was listening and watching. I would have liked to shame her in front of a cast of thousands. Llew expressed a similar desire when he alighted at the other end. Unfortunately he was also the last one off, so was unable to point this arrogant bitch out to me. I honestly think I would have felt compelled to approach her and tell her off, so maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t able to. Her attitude stinks, and so does the fact that she got away with it.

I was stunned the other day, a couple of weeks ago now, by a guy and his pregnant wife just chucking their supermarket basket on top of a pile strewn on the supermarket floor by one of the registers. I looked at him, looked down at the growing pile, and looked at him again.
Then I started talking to Llew at the top of my voice as I started collecting the baskets one by one and setting them to rights, placing one inside the other in a neat stack. As you do.

“See, Llew, there was a day when throwing your basket into a messy pile on the floor just wouldn’t have happened. The first person would have righted their basket. If it did get knocked over, the second person would come along and right it before placing their own basket inside. The pile would never even happen. But now everyone’s just so important and so busy and so full of the idea that everything is someone else’s problem, that the whole system has collapsed. Look at this. No, no, please: allow me. And you just have to wonder what kind of lessons these people are going to be passing on to their unborn child. You really have to start to wonder just what they’re going to say is okay. Because look at this. Just look at it. Who would do that? Who would just chuck their basket on top and walk away? Who wouldn’t spend the thirty seconds fixing it? Who?”

Needless to say, Llew wanted to die of embarrassment, but the good news is so did the couple. They looked everywhere but at me. And do you know why? Because THEY KNEW he’d done the wrong thing. They knew he was part of the problem. Llew said “But he didn’t do it to start with,” and I said “No, but he just added to it rather taking a moment to make it right.” It doesn’t matter how far down the line you are – it’s what you do when it’s your turn to step up. And he failed my basic decency test. It’s a tiny thing, of course it is, I know that, but it is indicative of a much greater societal malaise. It’s that attitude that says “I don’t give a damn about the next person, I only care about myself and I’m not correcting someone else’s mistake. I am not responsible.”

It just makes me burn. And the following day, I nearly had to mount the curb on my bike because someone’s expensive Saab (and of course it had to be a prestige vehicle, it goes with the territory) was across the entire road, keys in the ignition, motor running, and Mr or Mrs Saab Owner just too damn important to pull over to one side – pick a side any side- so that anyone travelling in either direction could pass whilst they were doing whatever the hell they needed to do so damn urgently they parked their car on a 45 degree angle across the width of a residential street. I was lucky, I was on my bike so just managed to negotiate a way past. But too bad to the cars on either side. They just had to sit there and wait for the driver to return, because his or her time was clearly so much valuable than theirs.

Am I angry? You bet I am. Everyone needs to remember they’re the TRIFLING exception rather than the exception to the rule. We’re all in this together, otherwise it all falls down.



  1. Leti said,

    Hei Di!!! You are not the only one who gets angry with these tiny things. You can´t imagine what it is like living in Mexico City, 20. million people figthing for their place, their time, for whatever…It´s disagreeable!!! and it´s amazing how they can live with that…Fortunately, We moved to Guadalajara which is a better place but, you ´ll always find a selfish one around…

  2. doctordi said,

    That’s the population of Australia in one city… and yes, you’re right, Leti, selfish people are everywhere. But why not expect more of people rather than less?

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