Barbara: Today’s question isn’t about whether we are right or not to call people on their crap, but whether we stand by our calling-out after the fact or whether we regret it.
The other night, Deb and I had a most amazing experience—in fact, it was such an amazing experience that it’ll be our blog subject for next Wednesday’s post. But I had a small moment during that experience that has lingered with me and could make for an interesting discussion today.
Okay, it’s no secret that Deb took me to the Bruce Springsteen concert last Friday night (once again, I will save sharing all my awestruck delight with you for Wednesday). Before long, the woman who held the ticket right beside us invited her mid-twenties daughter and all her friends into the row with us (they had tickets from higher up and we were at the front). Let’s just say that this young girl and her friends weren’t always hanging on Bruce’s every note as we were. Don’t get me wrong—they definitely appreciated his talent and greatness, but during every quiet song they would turn to each other and start having a cocktail party of sorts. Sadly, this meant that during every quiet song I would have the sound of their party banter ringing in my ears way more loudly than the dulcet tones of one Mr. The Boss. For the most part, the concert was so loud (my ears are still ringing) that I never noticed what these kids were doing or saying, so I can imagine it never occurred to them that they were hindering any enjoyment. But, sadly, during the quiet songs, it was all I could hear.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am neither defending my irritation nor denigrating their actions—this isn’t a post about manners or decorum or any of those things. It’s about what happened next: the daughter, a lovely girl, turned to me during a quiet song to ask if I was a die-hard Bruce fan; I said that I was, and then added that it was really bothering me that I couldn’t hear his songs while she and her friends were talking. She blinked at me a few times, apparently not grasping my implication. I repeated that the conversation she was having with her friends was too loud and was interfering with my enjoyment. Well, her reaction was so heartbreaking (to me) that I instantly regretted saying anything. She was suddenly Bambi incarnate: widened eyes, innocent, hurt, stricken. She looked me deeply in the eyes for several long seconds and then apologized and then edged away like I might reach out and add to her injury by also physically slapping her.
Again: not trying to start a convo on what I was in my rights or not to do in this moment. My thing is: that few moments of hurt stayed with me, obviously until now. I wonder now if the annoying-talking had been important enough for me to challenge in the first place—because, for right or wrong, my challenge of it became bigger to me than any inconvenience the issue caused in the moment (on a side-note, it also didn’t prevent her friends from chatting during every single quiet song thereafter).
This experience—and several convos we’ve had here on the blog before—made me wonder about “yeller’s remorse”. Not the sense of being right or wrong, but the sense of value in discussing it in the first place. Over the course of my adult years, I’ve had to have several confrontational discussions. Here’s how they break down for ME:
Confrontations with my family: As I usually think these through very carefully, I don’t think I regret a single one. In fact, given that we are a family committed to in-depth discussion-cum-resolution, I have found deep and abiding value in every one. We’re pretty good at going from hurt and anger to understanding and peace.
Confrontations with friends or co-workers: These are tricky because I don’t necessarily love these people (especially co-workers, obviously) as I do my family and might not care to work all the way through to understanding (more often than not, we discover in this hard way that we’re not even compatible. Truth be told, in these cases, I often regret not saying MORE than I do.). So, I guess I can say with some confidence that I don’t regret voicing my opinion or standing my ground here.
Confrontations with strangers or businesses: Businesses, no problem. Please offer me the service and respect I am entitled to as your patron—no regrets to any challenge thereof. Strangers, hmmmmm. Like my little doe-eyed concert seatmate, I think I feel worse afterward than they do (or certainly just as bad). And while I may have made a valid point in the moment, maybe even a lasting beneficial one (doe-eyed girl may never again annoy future concert-goers by chatting throughout, even if her friends don’t get it), is it worth it if I’m analyzing the effects of my own confrontation during the moment and after?
Do you, like me, ever have yeller’s remorse?
Deb: Well, the joke is that while Barbara was yelling at her doe-eyed yapper, I was going to the security guy on the aisle and asking him to please check the tickets in our row as half the people in the row did not have front row tickets. One guy beside us started bragging that it had taken him a half hour to work his way down from the nose bleeds to the front row and was proud of it! Another couple weaseled their way into the front row. I asked them where their seats were and they said “two rows back” so I told the security guard and he ousted them. They literally went back to their seats for two minutes and came running back to our row to shove themselves in between people who had the right to be there. Then the guy had the balls to tell me that I should be ashamed of myself. The couple beside me had gone for a drink and now had two new people blocking their view. I was not ashamed. Now I know what you are thinking, “Deb, this is not in the spirit of rock and roll.” Let me clarify. I couldn’t care less if they butt in. If they have the balls and no one calls them on it, then I say fine. It is something I would never do and never have done, but that act alone would not have had my narcing them out to security. It was the fact that they fought and elbowed their way in there and then DID NOT SHUT UP! Seriously. Cocktail party conversations. Cross talk. All through the friggin’ songs. That is why I ratted. Finally after the couple weaseled back in, I said to them, “Look, these are not my seats you are stealing so it is not my battle. If you shut up, I will not rat you out! Just please listen to the band!!!!” They high-fived me and all was well. Then two minutes later the rightful owners came back and took their spots. Do you think they would leave? No, they pressed their pushy selves up against this couple for the rest of the concert, but I thought, Well, I’m not saying anything and I didn’t. As for Barbara having yeller’s remorse, I must tell you that as soon as Barb felt badly about yelling at the doe was just about the time that she started yap yap yapping again. AND the security guy threw them out too. AND they came back. Sorry. Not fair. Barb, I am afraid your words fell on deaf ears. Some people are there for themselves and do not consider anyone else. She looked hurt because clearly she has never been told by her parents, or anyone else in her life, that she is rude. That is why she was shocked. She had no idea this wasn’t appropriate behaviour. The only thing I would feel badly about is that you wasted your breath.