Monday, August 20, 2007

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

I feel like a dinosaur, or maybe a carryover from a time when, at least in literature, people were more polite than they are now.

In the supermarket, something caught my eye and I turned away from my shopping cart and ran headlong into the cart of a man who thought he was competing in the Indy 500. Knee first.

I didn't say anything but my expression must have betrayed that I was in pain because he said, belligerently, "Don't look at me! You ran into me."

I didn't answer because (a) I was hurting and (b) I was shocked at his outburst.

It seems to me that the appropriate response on his part would have been, "I'm sorry." Or at least, "Are you all right?"

What difference did it make that I ran into his cart (which was going much too fast?) Steel trumps flesh any day. He should have expressed concern.

Instead, he turned around and yelled, "What are you looking at? You ran into me, bitch."

I have my limits. I muttered, "Asshole" under my breath.

Flip said, "Great. Get me into a fight." He suddenly remembered an important errand involving chocolate-covered donuts, and hurried off. Flip is a peaceable person.

The guy made a 180 and rammed my cart. Better than my knee, but still...

I said, "Do that again and I'll have you arrested."

He let loose a stream of profanity and kept going. He probably needed some donuts, too.

We are devolving as a race. Long ago, way before my time or yours, people actually cared about one another. They lived in communities and looked out for their neighbors.

When I was growing up, this attitude didn't exist in most places anymore, but still, people pretended that they cared. It was better than nothing. They had manners, which smoothed over all the tricky areas of life that crop up wherever people share space.

It seems as if even that is gone now. We no longer pretend, and we certainly don't care about each other the way we should. We have become as hostile as cavemen fighting over territory, ripping raw meat from each other's teeth. We inflict physical and emotional pain on one another because. we. can.

Instead of nourishing ourselves with the warmth of good relations with loved ones, friends and even strangers, we have a starvation mentality and compete for the very air we breathe. The fact that there are far too many of us in the world fosters the worst behaviors instead of encouraging us to be even more considerate of others so that we can coexist peacefully.

This makes me very sad.

Today, I want to go and live with dogs.


Sienna said...

Sometimes Hearts is just seems an overwhelming and impossible task for our crazy world just to get by and act civil to each other....sometimes I find I have to draw real deep and call upon old friends (I love the Dalai Lama!)....

*The reason why Buddha said do no harm to others is that if we harm others, the harm or pain will backfire and have a negative effect upon us as well. This is a fact. In Buddhism we call this a natural law: that which is always true. If we kill one person we will gain ten or more new enemies. The more violence we engage in, the more our enemies and suffering will increase.*
Venerable Tenzin Gephel
Resident Namgyal Monastery Monk
Cornell University Buddhist Chaplain

I would be in total amazement too...where does all this anger come from...he sounds a very unhappy person; you are going to (after the initial shock) get your groove back and continue living with your beautiful family, animals, intelligence humor and wonder of life and he is going to have to live with himself-icky-and yuck!

I love the picture of the dogs...I totally understand that; I live that dogs are some of my best friends, with the wackiest sense of humor and quirky characteristics and just so full of love and adoration..

Hey! I saw Bob Dylan twice!!

Melbourne-over the weekend, he is an amazing spirit, he made me cry and laugh and cheer....

Thankyou Friends...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Pam, thank you as always for your kind and intelligent support. I think there is a Buddhist saying to the effect of not kicking a man when he's down unless YOU really deserve it, in which case, kick him again.

Most of my best friends have been four-leggeds.

But I'm sure I could make an exception for Bob Dylan. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time (twice.)

thailandchani said...

I'm right behind ya! Meet me in Khon Kaen. We can go have some satay chicken and sticky rice.. and watch the birds near the lake.




heartinsanfrancisco said...


And Thai tea. Mmmmm. Do I have time to pack my toothbrush?

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless. He rammed you, cursed at you, rammed you again and yelled more obscenities your way. I'm shocked. Did anyone in the store say or do anything? Good for you for standing up for your self, but still, one doesn't think they'd have to at the grocery store. Your story saddens me. One of the first things I've tried teaching my kids is that if an accident happens regardless of fault, ask the person who is hurt if they are okay. I can imagine people like this guy, they have to be the exception, not the norm.

liv said...

I'm shocked. Something that actually makes me feel good is that I am shocked---as if this is not the norm--that I am not numb to an incident like this. When you stop feeling like behavior such as this is bad, it is a sure sign that we are regressing socially and culturally.

EsLocura said...

sometimes I wish I had bought that bumper sticker that read "people make me so pro nuclear" except of course then I remember I am a peace loving polite sort of gal. hope you are still not hurting on several levels.

Tanya Brown said...

Criminy! Well, I suppose sociopaths have to eat too, which means that at least some of them go to the grocery store.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Maybe he was just having a bad day. A very, very bad day.

He didn't exactly brighten mine, either.


I see your point. This is one of those Purple Cow reminders:

"I've never seen a purple cow,
I never hope to see one.
But this I will say anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one."


I'm so glad to hear from you. I know that Dean spared your island, but it must have been pretty stormy.

I need frequent reminders that I am a peace loving, polite sort of gal, too. And I nearly always leave my uzi at home.


I'm all for takeout when it comes to sociopaths.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

If you really looked like that dinosaur in the picture, you can be assured that I'd be very polite to you.

I think all this apparent lack of respect has to do with surpressed anger. People today feel empty, unhappy and not in control of their lives. Unable to cope they lash out to those around them. It is a symptom of the emptiness of people today.

Attila The Mom said...

Hope your knee is better!

What an awful experience!!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm sure you're right, but he could have put a little skin on it.

And that IS my most recent picture. You don't like it?


It is feeling better, thank you. And thank you for your visit, too.

riseoutofme said...

I agree with lgs ...its the soul-numbing emptiness inside that drives people to behave in the "attack being the best form of defence" manner. Hope your knee is feeling better now and that he didn't do irreparable damage to your faith in the rest of humanity.

jali said...

It hurts to see how poorly people treat each other. I don't understand people who show no empathy, sympathy or respect for others.

I'm sending you a hug.

NMJ said...

Hey San Fran, These are the kind of incidents that can make you so angry, taking up energy, pointlessly. He sounds like he is v unhappy or maybe he is just plain rude. I can't believe he rammed you twice. I think I would've cried at such aggression.


Ian Lidster said...

Supermarket Rage, wow, that's a new one. What a pathetic bastard. But, I agree with you about the devolution of human behavior. But, if you think, what are the public examples out there of 'good' behavior. We lionize our creeps, boors and bigots and then we expect society to act with propriety. You should have reported the sonofabitch to the store managment. People who could get so enraged over such a trivial matter are potentially very dangerous, and at the end of it, probably better to walk away.

Jeremy said...

I wrote a similar story about the rage that people exopress in airports to gate agents over matters not within our control.

Our society sees everyday violence and aggression on TV and radio and on the street. Parents demonstrate it to children who carry it to school at an early age. It is sad and upsetting to those who strive to be peacable to all men.

A wise man once stated in effect that I am a fool if i let some one else keep me angry, so I try to forget, even if it does make the blood boil at times.

Bob said...

This guy obviously has some problem controlling his anger - ramming your cart is over-the-line aggressive behaviour. I hope he finds a solution to his problem before goes too far.

I guess one of the perks of living in small-town Georgia is that I don't see that kind of thing very often. The norm here is pretty much what you describe as being past social norms - politeness (even if it is only surface) pretty much predominates in our grocery aisles.

CS said...

Sigh. I just have such troupble with that sort of thing. I apologize automatically in situations like that, even if it is clearly the other person's fault. What did he have to lose? People do seem to be increasingly beliigerant, increasingly primed for aggression, and increasingly ready to slough off responsibility. Once at an event a woman's little girl spilled something on my dress and as I stepped backward, the woman gave me a disgusted look. I said, "And here, 'I'm so sorry' might be the appropriate response." She snorted and walked away.

eastcoastdweller said...

Yeah, I think part of the problem is location, Sweet Susan. On my east coast, where it is too hot and humid to waste energy on anger, people seem to routinely apologize for near collisions in the grocery store, and, loveliest of all, will even give up their place in the check-out line for you if you have just a few things and they have many.

I'm not too happy about Flip just leaving You to deal with that freakish, waste-of-skin, obviously-ain't-had-no-lovin'-in-a-while, misogynistic, vile, pathetic excuse for a human being.

I'm not a big fighter but I would at least have escorted my Sweetie away from such a creep, not left Her there!

It would have been very tempting to give the bastard's cart a nice hard shove into his abdominal region.

And as for that freak, I hope that all his food items in that cart were imported from China and that he forgot something very important on his list and lives far enough away that he will curse himself soundly when he does finally remember it.

Liz said...

Maybe my psycho post office Princeton Boy was talking on the phone to your grocery store nightmare? I seriously need to pick my jaw up off the floor.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No, it didn't. If I believed that most people were like that, I wouldn't have thought I had a story to tell. It would be business as usual.


I don't either, and I appreciate the hug.


The first time we collided, it was my fault, but that shouldn't have set him off. The second time was a deliberate act of aggression and reeked of generalized desperation which he chose to focus on the nearest target.

That was the scary part, that he was a land mine waiting to be activated.


You raise an excellent point. We seem to revere our naughty celebrities and our attention eggs them on to greater heights of depraved behavior.

The sickness is in our society and cannot be fobbed off as one miserable person.


Children live what they learn, so until we can all behave like civilized human beings, the future looks grim.

Those are wise words indeed. My rage does not hurt its object, it only hurts me.

Thank you for your visit.


I lived in the South for many years and people WERE more polite than in other places. You can't legislate what is in their hearts, but treating each other with consideration, even if it's insincere, is a big improvement over letting it all hang out.


Oh, boy. When rude people's children are involved, they get even ruder.

My daughter was in a store waiting to pay and another customer's child kept kicking her. She smiled at the child, and got kicked harder so she moved away a few feet.

The mother lit into her as someone who doesn't like children. It was so amazingly unreasonable.

And now that same woman's child has spilled something noxious on your dress.

There is so much abstract hostility in the world. I fear for all of us.


Flip left after the man had walked away. I think he came back because he noticed that I was now unprotected. Nobody could have anticipated that kind of off-the-wall behavior.

I'm sure that many of his items were in fact from China as he was, himself, Chinese. I was quite shocked as in my experience, they are normally extremely polite people.


You know, I thought of that, too, as I was still pondering your post about that guy.

Maybe there is a worldwide network of nasty people, a veritable underground and they all have chips in their brain that make them accelerate to full rage in 10 seconds.

Odat said...

Damn, I hate that people are sooo inconsiderate too. But you handled it with dignity....

P.S. I finally finished my 10 thing meme....I'm posting it tomorrow.

Laura Stamps said...

It may be really HOT down here right now, but I am always grateful I live in the Deep South (grew up in Georgia, live in South Carolina now) where "manners" are number one. Even small children are taught to be polite down here.

Come spend some time in the Deep South where that kind of comment would never have been spoken outloud by a man to a woman. It's just not done. And if a man is foolish enough to do it, everyone around him would not think well of him at all. And chances are another strange man would step up and ask if you needed help, glaring the entire time at the man with no manners. I'm sorry you were verbally abused in such a way.

Sending many faery xoxox your way today!

Open Grove Claudia said...

I'm sorry about your knees. That's pretty awful. Are you all right??

That's the kind of thing that has started me laughing hysterically. I don't know really where it comes from but when people go off like that I think it's kind of funny.

But then again, I'm 5'10" and have a flesh searing stare.

I'm really sorry that happened to you. I don't think he's the mascot for the entire world. He's just one small person who decided to attack your light.

Melanie said...

Aw... this is a very sad commentary on the times. I am thankful i live in a different sort of community, but I have seen this behaviour more recently. Do you think part of this is because young people don't have family around all the time? we spend too much time making money and less quality respecting each other?

hope you didn't get hurt. I don't want to live with the dogs... but away from people on an island, now that I could handle.

la cubana gringa said...

I so completely know what you mean...I was driving recently and actually witnessed someone honk continuously at an ambulance that was double parked with their emergency lights on!! WHO DOES THAT?????

meno said...

Asshole. That pretty much sums it all up.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Well, I suppose the jerks just serve to make us aware of how nice most people are.


I have lived in the South - North Carolina and Tennessee, where people are usually polite, even if they don't mean it. Bless their hearts.


I'm fine. I have a flesh-searing glare, too, on occasion, which was probably what made him so defensive in the first place.


As soon as a good island comes along, people follow and ruin it. :(

My theory is more along the lines of too many rats in a maze. The world is so overcrowded that it makes people overly competitive, which usually manifests as nastiness. I am sure this occurs less in less populous places.

La Cubana,

Honking at an ambulance ... that's just amazing. I am constantly shocked at the rudeness, the absolute lack of concern for others.


I thought so. If the shoe fits, kick it in deeper.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of the famous quote, "the more I know of men, the more I admire dogs."

This is an unbelievable story. There was a time too when men might not have treated each other with respect but they did so to woman. They would always hold a door open and would never ever, ever never hit a woman.

Those days, all of those days, are dust.

thailandchani said...

Check your spam filter. I don't think any of my mail is getting through to you. :)



Voyager said...

If it is any consolation, I have never witnessed behavior as bad as that. At least not from an adult. And for every one rude pig, I meet far more kind strangers. Like the teen on the commuter train today who offered me his seat. And it turned out he had a further ride than I did. Have faith!

Mara said...

Words of comfort have soothed you, I hope. When you think things can't be worse, doubt it. Every day when I walk out with my dog or with my friends in the evening, I get nasty words thrown at me by some punk or some deluded fool who's trying to prove himself in front of his friends who, together can barely chip in to reach the I.Q. of a sparrow.
I had some shoes on that started giving me blisters and had to walk slowly because of the pain. When I crossed the road (in a signalled place) some idiot with an Audi almost crashed into me and then honked and yelled: "Move your slow sorry *** faster!"
The only kindness I receive is from other dog-owners who approach my dog and tell me how beautiful she is, or from other people who were subjected to the same treatment I got.
Believe me, it can get worse, you're not alone, but you have our sympathy, that of morally just, responsible, respectful, "human" people.
There, that should make it better :)

Christina_the_wench said...

I've ran into a lot of older people in the supermarket who are rude as hell. Shocked me. When I was growing up, the senior citizens were the friendliest people. Even they are tainted now. ~sighs~

You got the patience of Job. I would have kicked his ass.

WNG said...

There are so many times during the day when I have to take a second and breathe just to keep from saying or doing something I know I'll regret later. One good thing about growing up in the South, you learn how to fake a smile and slide through on manners. Still, I find the more I spread those smiles around, the more real they become. It doesn't always work, but it's always worth a try.
Having a picture of the most adorable child in the universe as the backdrop on my cell phone doesn't hurt either!

thethinker said...

What a rude man. I'm really sorry that that happened to you.

I'd rather see people pretending to care about one another than not caring at all.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's a great quote!

For all I know, he felt terrible afterward. Sadly, I have learned that when I behave badly, the effects hang over me far longer than when I do something nice.


Nothing there, but several others came in during the night.

I'll write to you and see if you get it.


I really believe that most people are still polite when they're not in their cars.

It WAS nice, indeed, that a teenager offered you his seat.


Wow! That driver was quite boorish. I'm sorry that happened to you.

Throw away those shoes!

You did help. I feel so much better now.


Maybe all the nice ones get snapped up by Walmart.

It's getting harder all the time to find a sweet little old lady or a kindly old gent.

Now you've made me wonder if I COULD have kicked his ass...



When I was raising my children, the thought of them often kept me out of trouble, too.

And I agree: Fake manners are still much better than none at all.


Such pretense works for me, especially if it means that I won't get beat up on.

I have a plan. If I ever see him again (and I WILL recognize him,) I will smile and say "Hi!"

It could change his life, and mine.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Sometimes I think we are digressing to the dark ages, but then something happens, someone comes along and reminds me that humans don't always give their worst, even when they can.

I got a call the other day from a 'biker guy' who'd found a wallet and wanted to return it to the owner. "Everything is there, his whole life is in it." the biker told me. "I just want to get it back to him, tell him not to cancel anything, I'll even overnight it to him." He was legit, and Mr. Lost his life got it back just as he'd lost it.

I was so taken by surprise... so relieved that there are still truly good people out there, friends masquerading as strangers.

I hope that your hurts heal, and that your heart finds some kindness today.

Big hugs.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

The Atavist said...

We are increasingly an uncivil society. Actions that should beget punishment don't. Parents who should teach manners and responsibility don't. And so, sadly, we get what we deserve in return for our inaction.

Very sad. I have seen similar examples of rudeness and obnoxious behaviour, and wonder where this is all going to end.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing it here.

I think that bikers get a bad rap. Years ago, when I adopted my wolf through the Humane Society in MA, she had been rescued from her abusive first owner by a guy who was a Pagan. He called the Society, which advertised in the paper. When I agreed to adopt her, sight unseen, he brought her to my house.

In Nashville, I once saw a scary-looking guy, tattoos, bad-ass expression, the whole classic biker image, park his Harley next to a lake in the park where I was eating on my lunch break. He strode to the edge of the water, then produced a large bag of bread crumbs and fed the ducks while speaking sweetly to them.

Judging books by covers comes to mind here.


Rudeness abounds, but also, I think that kindness does. It's just less obvious.

I'm going to get even with him if I ever see him again. I'm going to smile and greet him like a friend. He won't know what to do because I'm sure he'll remember me as well.

That way, we'll both get another chance not to hate each other.

MsLittlePea said...

What a jerk.

eastcoastdweller said...

A few years ago, I volunteered to staff a Salvation Army collection kettle at the local mall.

It was quite surprising to see the nice-looking, well-dressed people who walked right on by, avoiding eye-contact -- and the tough, punkish-looking types who dropped money in.

Many years ago, I had taken my Sweetie somewhere and we stopped at a fast food place on the way home. A very drunk, rough-looking guy was sitting on the curb near the door. He got up as we got near him and looked at us and of course my hackles went up and I moved to get between him and my Sweetie.

He walked past me and held the door open for Her.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

Yeah. But I think we're all capable of bad behavior now and then. Maybe he felt worse about it than I did afterward.


That's nice. I like to be pleasantly surprised by people in that way.

And it's really fine when fast food establishments have doormen.

Molly said...

We can learn a lot from dogs. If we all wagged our tails more when we met, instead of passing by without so much as "hello"; if we didn't hold grudges and jealously nurse them to keep whatever, real or imagined, insults alive; if we all took the time to run and jump and play more; wouldn't we all be a lot happier? Sorry you had the misfortune to run into such a cur.....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think that most dogs are ambassadors of sunshine, and I am more than willing to learn from them as long as I don't have to sniff anybody's butt on meeting.

Josie said...

Hearts, I think we have forgotten how to live in communities where we actually care about each other. We have all become disconnected. Many folks interact more with their TV sets than they do with real people. We have lost our humanity, in many respects. I found a cell phone on the ground a few weeks ago. I left messages at the person's place of business, at their home and by e-mail to make arrangements to return the phone. The individuals received all the messages, but just couldn't be bothered getting back to me until it was finally "convenient" for them, which they finally did. I sent the phone to their home via courier, and they never called to thank me, or to acknowledge they received it. BTW, the guy was a lawyer. He should have known better. Go figure...

Odat said...

Come on over and pick up a present!

Heart Of Darkness said...

You are completely right - instead of evolving, we are going down the toilet. Crown of the creation my ass!

Would it hurt people to be a little kinder towards one another??? *sigh*

furiousBall said...

Once again, see if we all had flame-throwers this stuff would never happen.

ren.kat said...

Your long ago is pretty different from the long ago I learned about in history class, the one in which they worshiped the sun and ate each other's brains, the more recent ago when hangings were like the Macy's Day parade. Since I feel like you do- maybe you could find the map with directions to that particular long ago and share.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves that doing good is its own reward. But what shockingly bad manners of that person not to even thank you for your trouble and expense. It makes me shake my head.


Ohhh, thank you so much!! I didn't know that one existed. Oh boy, oh boy, this is my lucky day.

Heart of Darkness,

Kindness never goes out of style, but it's getting into the rare and hard to find category lately.

Thank you for your visit!


You're so right, Calvin. I've been asking for one forever, and even promised to play with it outside, but no-o. No flame thrower has come my way yet. What am I doing wrong?


Oh, good. I was wondering what to make for dinner tonight -- braised brains, after I worship the sun, of course.

Thank you for coming by our little nuthouse.

the walking man said...

How dare you mutter the word Asshole towards this outstanding representation of the new humanity?

Better to fall to the floor cry, holler for the EMS and sue both the wonderful human who called you a bitch then played dueling carts, and the store for injury. that is by the way assault and reckless endangerment.

Better than Glocking his ass in front of a store full of witnesses and creating a panic among the blind who did not nor would have intervened.

This is the new world order, exacerbated by the society we allow to entertain us. Get used to it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Walking man,

Yeah, it was pretty special. A lot of bad behavior gets excused by our assumptions that someone is unhappy, and therefore should not be expected to take responsibility for himself.

The next logical conclusion is widespread anarchy because nearly everyone is unhappy about something.

Thanks for your visit.

baffle said...

What's difficult (for me) when this kind of thing happens is avoiding getting caught up in the other person's private hell. That which seems to provide justification to them for such hateful behaviour.
A 'get the other guy/gal before he/she gets you' mentality.

In your place, my own swept-under-the-rug rage and misery buttons would certainly have been pushed. Each day offers new challenges and opportunities for me to over ride my deep-seated feelings of sadness, hurt and resentment.

It sure can be a struggle to coexist in harmony with my fellow beings...

...more so if they happen to walk out the door in the morning 'asshole foot' first.

Good luck with working through this 'bad moment'. Getting support via blogging and all the decent folk out there really does help, doesn't it?

You take good care, now.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So many assholes, so little time...

Miserable people offer our greatest challenges to be otherwise because bad temper is contagious unless we're very careful.

Thank you for coming by. I followed your link and have bookmarked your great blog so I can read it often.

Irrelephant said...

Heart, I wandered in here quite by random happenstance, and You got attacked (in a manner of speaking) by a stranger in the market. I was just talking with another blog friend about the loss of such simple, common things as gentlemanly behaviour, politeness, and just in general being decent to other people, and how, sadly, we're seeing less and less of it, and here you are, living proof.

I hope the sting from this particular bite has long since worn off. And know that there are still a few people in the world who are fighting tooth and nail (and with manners firmly in place) against the death of the flower of gentility and decent behaviour.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm over it now. In fact, every time I go back to Safeway, I look for the guy so I can mess with his head by smiling.

Most people are kind and most decent to each other, and even polite sometimes.

Thank you for visiting here, and for your encouragement.

The CEO said...

One of the best and most important posts I have read.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I am complimented that you think so.
Unless you're just being polite...?