When I was a young manager attending meetings and seminars we learned early on that there is more to group dynamics than meets the eye. I am sure many of you have heard the theory, I am most familiar with. “For every group there is an ‘asshole’ among them, and if you look around the group and can’t find that person, then you’re it.” I know that’s a little blunt, but it holds true in most group situations.
Lately, I seem to have gotten much better at picking this special person out. I don’t know if it’s because I have been that person myself so many times before, or if I am just more intolerant of bad or rude public behavior. My migration into older age groups may have something to do with it. You know old folks seem not to hold back their thoughts. We say what’s on our mind many times, when surely it would have been better to have just shut up.
This week I started my heart rehabilitation classes scheduled three times a week MWF. It’s all about exercise, and getting your heart and lungs back to strong healthy functioning organs. On the second day, I was able to pick out the butt head quick and easy. Another patient with a big mouth, rude, likes to give orders to the nurses, and has a lot of nothing to say. I already pointed him out to my wife when she came to pick me up as he was making a scene. I looked at her and said “that’s the asshole.” Ms Teri, my lovely wife, gave me the look! You know the one your wife gives you when her expression is saying “Not again”, “Don’t you dare,” “Behave yourself.” Did you notice the capital letters at the beginning of those phrases? Yea, you know the look.
This brings me to the story of why I am not allowed to go to the movies alone anymore.
I preface this story by restating what we see and hear on the news of late; that we are becoming a society of people with rude and bad public behavior. I also want to state that I have encountered innumerable tense situations with such behavior in my 30 year career as a manager. However, I never acted upon those demonic thoughts that occurred in those moments so to speak.
The week before my heart attack, I went to the movie theater to see Avatar. I love going to the movie theater, and will go alone if there is a movie my wife is not interested in. I am a huge fan of sci-fi and action adventure movies, and really enjoy the escape of a few hours, to view a movie the way it was meant to be enjoyed and heard, on the big screen. Avatar was even in 3D! I like to sit toward the top rows when it’s a stadium seating theater. A man about my age was already sitting in the back row, in the end seat that extended a couple of seats past the next row of seating. I chose the end seat in the row in front of him. We were early, I nodded as I sat down, and the theater began to fill up. As the local advertisements were flashing on the screen the man to my rear began to rant out loud about things, the economy, the price of the tickets, the price of the refreshments, our government, our military, and on and on and on. He was loud enough that he had your attention, whether you wanted to give it to him or not. A young woman and her child sat next to him as the house filled, and all I could hear was the same complaints over and over again as the lady tried to be polite in her responses.
I looked around for an escape of some sort to another seat, but by this time the theater was about full, and I had a prime seat except for the asshole in back of me. The house lights dimmed and movie previews began, and the idiot in back of me continued to rant, as I became more and more agitated. (that word agitated doesn’t really express my true feelings here) Finally the movie starts and the loud mouth shuts up. Finally!
The movie, in my humble opinion, is great, and at this point I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The entire audience is standing and clapping in approval and the ASSHOLE in back of me shouts out to the world, “That’s, what’s wrong with our government today. Yeah, you can’t trust them!”
Now I had not only identified the asshole in this group, but I decided it was time to call him out. I left quickly and waited just outside the theater doors inside the lobby wait area. He was one of the last to leave the theater; surely still ranting to anyone that would listen. As he proceeded up the corridor to exit the building, I stepped along side of him. Sizing him up, he and I were about a perfect match, same age, same height, same weight; you know two old fat farts. I began my introduction, by telling him that I believed in freedom of speech as well as anyone, but I didn’t think that his behavior was appropriate for people who had paid to see a movie and escape from this everyday bullshit.
His Ass Holiness then became confused, and thought that I actually wanted a response. I really didn’t want him to answer or say another word, in reality; I just wanted him to know that someone else thought his behavior was inappropriate. But, he did respond, not sure what he said, but I immediately moved to the next level reversing roles with him to become the aggressive asshole. I shouted profanity in his face, called him a piece of crap, (used other words), and I went on and on and on, trying everything in my power to get this piece of human slime to do what? I don’t know hit me? Yea, I guess that’s where I was headed, but at that moment and place, I just wanted a piece of this guy; to say you just can’t get away with bad behavior and not get called out for it.
The man was much smarter than I gave him credit for, because he scurried toward his vehicle as the crowd drew upon us, and I was calling him every profane name a man with any balls would normally respond to with some physicality. Luckily, for both of us, he left, and I found my car and drove home.
I made the mistake of relating the story to my wife. I told her she was real close to bailing me out of jail, but the other man proved to be smarter than me. She gave me the bad news about going alone to the movies.
The next week I had a heart attack. Stress is a big factor they tell me.