A space for us all
On friday night Peter and I went to a gig at the Forum in Melbourne. It's one of my favourite places to watch bands. It always feels special because the theatre itself is so beautiful. We got their early and lined up outside waiting for the doors to open. Upon which we staked our spot. We bumped into friends and watched the first two band as part of the happy throng. The vibe was great and people around us were chatting away, excitedly waiting for the main band. Then, all elbows and bad manners a group of twenty-somethings pushed passed us to get closer. When Peter remonstrated, a young girl yelled back at him 'I paid for my ticket just the same as you'. This group proceeded to sway and sing along, however they also kept elbowing me, oblivious to the fact they were touching another person. The 6 foot tall couple in front of me start making out, which meant they completely blocked my 5 foot 4 view of the stage. I ask you - why pay $70 for a ticket just to suck face? Watch the fucking band or move to the back. I was staggered at this groups lack of self awareness. They had no idea how they were impacting on everyone around them.
A guy next to Peter leant over explaining that in a crowded band setting "everyone is somebody's cunt". Yes, perhaps we all are. As much as they pissed us off, perhaps we were 'those' people to someone else. And as easy as it would be to start a 'young people today' rant the reality is it's always been the same. As I've mentioned before, I've had my shoes stuck to the sticky carpets of Melbourne's pubs since I was 16. There is one etiquette for most of us, and then those pushy arseholes who spend their time at the bar, rock up late and push the fans who have been glued to the spot for 3 hours out of the way. When I was in my 20s there were annoying cunts, and now I'm in my 40's those people still exist.
On sunday we were driving into town down Sydney Road. It's a defensive driving course on the best of days and juggles lots of cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians. We were stopped at the front of the lights with a row of cyclists next to us. A young blonde lycra clad girl sailed past the line of fellow cyclists and parked herself in front of my car. Lights change, and of course not even a drug fuelled Lance Armstrong could take off with the speed of a car. I had to swing to get around her. Again, Peter remonstrated saying 'Get in the bike lane!' We were met with the roar back of 'Get out of your fucking car you hero!' Now, my ex was a cyclist and you can't drive around the inner city without encountering bikes. I'm really super cautious and check my mirrors and give way to the two wheelers. However, I'm sure if I had been driving in the bike lane lycra girl would have been apoplectic with rage. And rightly so. So if she's cycling in front of my car why shouldn't I be pissed off? I get angry when I see motorcyclists and people on scooters (scooterists?) in the bike lane I wish there was a cop around to point out that if it has an engine it should be with the rest of the traffic. For everyone's safety we have allocated space on a shared road.
So my question is this: what ever happened to self awareness...and why can't some people see how they affect others? Are we SO blinded by our own sense of entitlement and self importance? If we all adhere to the spacial etiquette most of us live by, there would be space for everyone. There are just some people spoiling it for everyone.
I caught up recently with a friend who's spent weeks driving across America. I asked about the traffic, and he said even in New York everyone was polite. I was reminded of my travels through the U.K. I loved how people made eye contact in narrow hedge rowed laneways, or truck drivers flashed their headlights on the motorway to signal they were giving you space to merge. I quickly learnt the click of the hazard lights to reply 'thank you'. I was gobsmacked that the jam packed roads were full of politeness. It seems to be a similar story in the States. So what's up this us?
Where does our sense of entitlement at the cost of others come from? Why haven't we learnt to share and play nicely with the other kids? This made me contemplate how Australia deals with asylum seekers and immigration. The racist element of our community take the 'fuck off we're full' approach. While many of us appreciate the amazing influence of multiculturalism and embrace diversity - particularly if it helps protect vulnerable people.
Something has gone wrong somewhere. The pushy 'me first' attitude does not serve us well. Maybe it's my cranky forty-something-self despairing at the state of the world. But as I said, there have always been pushy arseholes, and perhaps we are all someone else's cunt. But maybe if we stopped for a moment and looked at the people around us, there would be space for us all.
Enjoy a Neutral Milk Hotel song on me. Thanks Peter for introducing me to them and for taking me to the Forum.