Monday, May 23, 2016

Neanderthals Alive And Well In Omaha

I'd shake my head and say I don't know what America is coming to, but that would be a lie. I know exactly what we're coming to-for all practical purposes we're already there.  We've probably been here for years but it was harder to spot whilst people still went through the motions of basic manners. It is getting terribly ugly. I'm not naive, I've had slurs hurled at me by people that thought I should, "Go back where I came from" and have spent enough time on picket lines to know the threat of violence from people that disagree with you isn't something to be taken lightly. Still, I don't go out into the world each day expecting the worst. I know better, but I still give people the benefit of doubt, and I try to behave decently as well. Most people aren't horrible human beings, I tell myself that, but I'm running across more and more people that are horrible human beings. Earlier this week I tripped and fell outside the pet store. A man my age was walking out the door and he laughed at me as he walked by. Who does that? A normal person would ask, "Are you okay?" or offer a hand, but in Omaha 2016, you get laughed at. Ha ha, the old lady fell down. Hilarious.

I was walking to my car at the grocer this evening. I had Danny with me. A man in his late 50's that looked like your typical office worker, in a gigantic truck zipped past us at an alarming speed for such a crowded lot, and pulled into the space beside mine. He hopped out of his truck, stood next to me as I loaded my groceries into the car and demanded, "How are you?!"

It wasn't a friendly question-and I wasn't sure what he wanted, so I attempted to finish up, and leave. Again, he demanded, "I SAID how are you?!"

By this point he was well into what I consider my space, and I hurried Danny into the car and hit the lock. I was ready to hit the alarm, and I don't really know why I didn't. I closed the trunk and he demanded a third time, "ANSWER ME! I SAID, how are you!!!"

I looked up, and told him to fuck off.

I know in hindsight this was a stupid thing to do, particularly in Nebraska where practically everyone has a gun. At the very least, I could have ended up punched in the head. It wasn't smart, but something in my indignant old lady head was outraged enough that this idiot thought it acceptable to harass a woman out grocery shopping with a child that I reacted without calculating the risk. He stormed off, then turned around and came back yelling, "What did you say?!"

I should have locked myself in the car, or screamed, or hit the alarm but instead I shot him an angry look and said, "You heard me." Then, I climbed in the car and drove off.

My husband thinks I did the right thing, though I'm not sure I like his reasoning that even if I had taken a punch (or a bullet) it still would have been the correct thing to do. Danny certainly got a lesson on how not to pick up women. The anger this guy had for my refusal to respond to his demands was terrifying. In my younger years I would have been prepared for something like this, but at my age it caught me off guard. The bullying, belligerent, stance and the threat of violence that came with it if I didn't comply with his demand to be acknowledged, and provide whatever answer he was seeking isn't something I prepare myself for when I make a quick trip to the grocer for milk. Perhaps he was looking for an opportunity to see if I didn't speak English so he could scream about immigration. Maybe he thought that's how you meet women. Whatever the motivation, the situation escalated so quickly I didn't have time to think through any of the risks.

I'm still not sure how I could have handled it better, but I'm pretty sure I could have. Maybe.

15 comments:

Polyester Princess said...

Both events, and especially the second one, really shocked me, Goody. I guess I would have reacted the same way as you. I'm not sure if it's as bad as this in Belgium, but I am sure we will be getting there. Behaving decently and being friendly seem to have gone out of fashion. xxx

Mim said...

Good grief, that's horrible! I'd be really shaken up by something like that.

You probably have just had a bad run and met two assholes very soon after each other. Most people *are* nice. Think of all the lovely people you know at the library, and the bird sanctuary, and the thrift stores... Did you take the shouty man's truck registration number? Can you report him to anyone?

Anonymous said...

These kinds of events are so disturbing.

It is all the more terrifying because of the gun issue. I am concerned about the safety of my children and grandchildren with all the senseless rage out there.



beate grigutsch said...

i would have reacted like you! luckily most of this types don´t expect a posh answer so i have the surprise on my side.....
it´s not only america - here in germany it seems that nobody has learned how to behave - last time a stranger (that was not a sales person) was just nice i almost fell on my back. esp. men over 50 are unbelievable rude. misogyn. racist. passiv-aggressive. who´s husbands are this????
be careful please!
xxxxxx

Vix said...

Vile, odious creatures.
Angry man at the supermarket sounds particularly nasty especially when you consider the gun issue.
Hopefully that's it for weirdos for a while and you'll only come across decent people. Like you say, there's plenty of good in the world, tossers are, thankfully, a small minority. xxx

Bibi Maizoon said...

Egads, I thought Omaha would has been spared this modern disdain for manners. Sorry you had to endure such a-holes. I don't know what to think of people any more.

Manners haven't been invented here yet. Harassing women on the street is a national sport in India. As long as the harassment remains verbal I simply stare them directly in the eye (which actually works). If they persist the get the finger, if they touch me then I pull out my Israeli key fob that has a sprayer that shoots mace laced with blue dye & some chemical that stinks like skunk for a distance of 7 feet.

Veronica Cooke said...

This is terrible Goody - I was so sorry to read about it. My first reaction to the 2nd man was that his behaviour sounds like someone with poor social skills and that he may have had learning difficulties or mental health issues.

Nevertheless, his behaviour was threatening and frightening and as you have the added worry in the USA that people are armed it must have been, quite frankly, terrifying.

I'm so glad you told him to fuck off - that's a message everybody understands; learning difficulties or mental health problems included. I think you did the right thing despite the risk but your reaction was spontaneous.

As for the first man - what a shame he didn't trip arse over tit as he walked past. What a knob!

There are lovely people out there - hold on to that.

xxx

Veronica
vronni60s.blogspot.com

Connie said...

There is so much aggression out there. It's so upsetting. And especially upsetting when our kids are exposed to it. You reacted exactly the way I would have. What did Danny have to say about it? I had a similar experience a while back in a store with my daughter. I won't go into details but I called the guy an asshole as he climbed into his car (I felt safe once he was farther away from me.) My daughter started crying because she said she felt helpless to protect me. That just broke my heart. We should never have to feel scared and helpless. You are one tough cookie, Goody. xXXOO

Goody said...

@Ann
I certainly hope it doesn't get this bad there.

@Mim
I'm not sure what I could report him for-it isn't illegal to be a dickhead. If he'd tried to touch me there might be grounds for arrest. Harassment is terribly difficult to prove.

@Anonymous
"Senseless rage" is a good way to describe it. I just don't know anymore.

@Beate
I can't imagine these creeps being anyone's husbands...and they probably can't understand why they aren't successful with women!

@Vix
To a degree, this sort of behaviour is now viewed as acceptable, even admirable-people think it makes them seem powerful. I'm guessing that much like the biggest bullies at school turned out to be cowards, that these idiots only feel powerful in a crowd, and the jerk last night must have been thrown off guard when I told him off.

@Bibi
I really don't want to resort to carrying mace, but if things continue as they are, I might. I did have my keys in my hand, pointing through my fingers in a fist in case I needed to throw a punch (I'm from Chicago, old habits die hard)but that's about as far as I go.

@Veronica
I doubt it was autism or some sort of mental issue as he was staring me directly in the eye and never looked away. His body language and stance were the actions of someone who was trying to intimidate, not someone that doesn't process the social cues. He was determined to get a reaction from me-it just didn't turn out to be the one he wanted. I think he really convinced himself that the way to get a woman's attention is by being forceful and obnoxious. He wasn't acting delusional (even if his pick-up methods were) just your garden variety middle-class-Midwestern-asshole.

@Connie
Oh man, I'm sorry that happened to you-that's awful that your daughter had to witness it.
Danny was more bewildered than frightened (I don't think boys understand how threatening men can be to women) and summed it up as "Pathetic." He was pleased I told him off, and said he'd expect the same if he was ever dumb enough to do something similar.

Beth Waltz said...

Certain areas of Indianapolis are thug zones, Goody. The locals know better than to "trespass" and tourists are tactfully directed elsewhere. During the years my work required me to venture into predator territory, I wore a gun (properly licensed, carefully holstered). I pulled it out twice in 20 years -- and have absolutely no doubt I'd have been harmed had I not been armed. Sadly, your report is one of many I've recently heard from other women simply going about their lives in supposedly 'safe' places. I believe your response was appropriate: I'm glad Danny was reassured by it. Stay strong (and loud)!

Goody said...

@Beth

I'm not sure I could pull a gun on someone, even if I had to.

Janice Weyand said...

There is a raw edgy feel in the air lately. I've noticed the same here in Ohio. We live in a rural area where one would expect a less than wild behavior crowd. Still yet, a mere one block over from our home a house was broken into while the owners sat in their living room. The intruder took his clothes off, went up their stairs and relieved himself on their bed. unreal.
I'm sorry to hear the wackos are in your area too. I believe you handled the situation well. I would imagine you tried to keep a level of calm to avoid scaring Danny anymore than the raving lunatic already had.
Also, sorry you fell. No injuries, that's good. One can not explain the overall lack of respect these days.

Sue said...

Honey you managed that perfectly, you told him exactly what I would have told him.

Goody said...

@Sue
Maybe, but it is still bugging me that I had to resort to that.

Goody said...

@Janice
The intruder incident really sounds like drugs-at least I hope it was drugs.
I just don't know anymore.