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Monday, 2 November 2015

Born To Be Riled?



I wonder if, as a nation, we are becoming more belligerent?  Before you ask, I absolutely include myself in this query.  In particular, I wonder if those of us who, by reason of age and maturity,  really should know better, including myself, are spending far more time than is healthy being hopping mad about something…anything!

You may recall that I gave an example of this phenomenon some time ago.  I’ve spent many years following a particular group (The Enid, if you’re interested) around the country.  In that time, in some of their less popular incarnations, they have played some very dubious rooms in back-street boozers which have been attended by a varied mix of the populace, many in leather and/or punk type fashions.  In all of that time, I have never witnessed any violence or threat of violence.  However, the one time that I attended a Ken Dodd entertainment at Derby’s (now cremated) Assembly Rooms, a fight broke out between two elderly blokes because one accused the other of pushing in front of him at the bar.  They had to be separated by the Security staff.



I was reminded of that incident when I went to a local supermarket this weekend to return a faulty item.  This was one of the ‘cheaper end of the market’ type supermarkets, which are, typically, leanly staffed and therefore don’t have the luxury of a Customer Service Desk.  We enquired about what we needed to do with this item of ours and were told to go to one of the check-outs, and an Assistant Manager would be called to deal with it, which we did.   We knew this would be bound to cause delays to those using the check-out but there wasn’t any alternative.  One kind lady customer actually offered to let us go first, but we pointed out that it might take a little while and it was better if she completed her transaction.

The item was accepted back at the check-out without any difficulty and a Manager was called to advise on the correct procedure to be adopted with regard to reimbursement.  None of this took very long at all, but inevitably a queue was beginning to build up behind us.  As I had completed my part in the proceedings, by handing the bulky item over, I left my wife to complete the financial transaction and went to wait by the packing shelf.  As she was collecting her receipt, I noticed that she seemed to be in animated conversation with a little bloke who was next in the queue.  He was one of those grizzled sorts who could be anywhere between 40 (with a lot of worry) and 70.  I decided to go over and asked “Is there a problem?”  My wife explained that she had apologised to this bloke for the delay, but this didn’t seem to be enough for him.  He seemed to be of the impression that we had pushed in ahead of him in the queue and came up with some very complex explanation of how he had placed his items on the conveyor belt after my wife had arrived but before I had appeared with the item.  I tried to explain the sequence of events as I saw them, but this clearly wasn’t going to mollify him.  I pointed out that my wife had apologised for his delay and that should be the end of the matter.  We then set off to leave the shop.

Now, I know that common sense would say that we really should have kept on walking and drawn a line under an unfortunate experience.  However, as we were walking away, he said, loudly for the benefit of the queue behind him “What a pathetic person!”  This rather irked me.  I should have thought that ‘sticks and stones etc’ but I felt this was hugely unfair and very unnecessary.  Therefore, I walked back to where he was standing at the check-out, and said, quietly but firmly in his right ear “Don’t”

Well, that did it as far as he was concerned.  He was going to take me outside and visit violence upon me.  I now did what I should have done in the first place and walked calmly away.  Talking to my wife on the way out, it appeared that this chap had been humphing and muttering in the queue and she had made the mistake of apologising to him.  This is always an error with the internally aggrieved as it gives them an excuse to enter into a conversation about whatever perceived injustice is aggravating them.  Left to humph and mutter they will, in a perfect world, explode at some point and leave the world a happier place (once the bits have been swept away).

The rationale for this blog post is then to confess my sins (I should have kept on walking) and to ask your forgiveness.  It’s also cathartic to get this off my chest because it has been bugging me ever since.  I’m not a violent person by nature and tend to avoid confrontation wherever possible,  I would certainly not expect to be put in such a situation on a Sunday morning visit to the supermarket, but I don’t suppose those old blokes at the Ken Dodd concert went there for a punch-up either.  Which brings me back to my initial question, are we becoming more belligerent?  Please answer, using one side of the paper only.