photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey Dr. Rice- Why Are You Such An Asshole?

It was rush hour in Tyler Texas- not New York City by any stretch of the imagination, but Tyler boasts a respectable almost 80,000 people and the Loop between 5 and 6:30pm is pretty well-traveled.

I was stopped at an intersection with a traffic signal along with say, 50 or 60 other autos, when I saw in the rear-view mirror a small, spotless and sleek sports-type car weaving in and out, jockeying to be in the front when the light turned green. As the car lurched impatiently forward past me, I saw the Vanity Plate- Dr Rice.


You drive like a completely insensitive selfish asshole and your car has your NAME on it? That adds like, a million points to your asshole score.

The sad thing is, we've become an increasingly UNcivilization.

Used to be, if we were engaged in conversation with someone, or at work- perhaps waiting on a customer, or watching a movie in a public theater, that one thing would be the most important thing to us at that moment. We would've been appalled if suddenly someone else had just popped into whatever we were doing and started talking about something completely different. How often were we told as children, and told OUR children "Don't interrupt. It's very rude".

And yet, that's what happens all the time now. Cell phones are everywhere, going off like so many buzzers, alarms, annoying snippets of popular or classical music, fracturing any semblance of whatever was supposed to be going on in the first place.

When did we all become so important that we have to be connected to everyone at all times and whoever is physically around us be damned?

Little horrible secret- we're not.

We're all suffering from grotesquely bloated egos, and truth be told, are damaging the most important relationships around us every day with carelessness.

Do I have a cell phone? You betcha. It is, in fact, my work phone- bought and paid for by my employer because as manager, I'm to be available to the workplace 8a-8p/7/365.

But here's the thing.

When it rings, if I'm otherwise occupied (and I often am), I hit 'mute', glance at the number and decide if it's urgent or let it go to voicemail. If I feel I must answer it, I excuse myself and leave the room- nothing is quite as thoughtless as someone yakkin' it up on their phones within earshot of everyone around them- essentially rendering them inconsequential and unimportant.

When did we become such a nation of sociopaths?

This afternoon, leaving the hospital, we were waiting for the elevator in the parking garage. My son and myself, a young adult woman, and an older couple- the husband using a cane. The elevator arrived, and the young woman stepped in first and pushed the button for her floor as the older couple moved slowly towards the door- only a few steps- we'd all been standing right in front of the elevator.

The doors closed and the elevator was gone.

When the next one arrived, my son and I entered first, and my 10 year old son- without being asked to- pushed and held the "open door" button till the older couple was on board. When we got off on our floor, he asked me incredulously "Didn't that lady SEE that they were old and needed a minute to get on??? Why didn't she hold the door open?"

I don't know.

I can't tell him why a grown woman would do that.

Maybe she was in a hurry. Maybe she was distracted with the worry over whatever relative she has in the hospital. Or maybe she's related to Dr. Rice.

I moderate an online forum, and every so often we get 'trolls'- those lovely people who live to annoy other people and push their buttons, frothing up and igniting entire cyber-populations. Here's what I can't understand- behind the anonymous curtain of the interwebs you can be anyone you want to be- you can be rich, good looking, brilliant, philanthropic, dynamic, and generally outstanding.

Why would you purposely CHOOSE to be an asshole?

Which brings us back to Dr. Rice. Like the lady in the elevator, I don't know if Dr. Rice was hurrying to some emergency surgery, or just late for cocktails with a colleague at the club. If the former was the case, I apologize for misconstruing your behavior, and I hope you got there in time.

If the latter is true, it concerns me not a little that you think you deserve to be at the front of the line by virtue of your social status.

It bothers me quite alot that this attitude may very well seep into how you treat your patients.

We're none of us all that important that we are given permission to discount those around us. We must put the civil bits back into civilization, or risk losing the humanity parts of being human.

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