One blog to rule them all
"30-Day Blogging Challenge" | May 24
Just yesterday, I decided to support a local business by going to a coffeehouse and getting a chai tea and some breakfast pastries for my wife. Obviously the whole COVID-19 thing is still going on, so the coffeehouse had very strict rules posted: wear a mask, order inside then go outside to wait for them to bring your order out, stay six feet apart, etc. And this coffeeshop has had a lot of problems with people ignoring those guidelines. Even though they've locked up all the tables, there's a large concrete planter outside that people have been sitting on the edge of and socializing rather than taking their drinks and leaving as the business requested.
Yesterday, the coffeehouse had put signs on the planter saying, "Please do not sit here. Outdoor space is for waiting for your orders only, by state order, you cannot sit and socialize." One of the patrons decided he wanted to do just that and actually tore the signs off the planter seating area and ripped them up, then proceeded to sit down with his buddies and enjoy their coffees. When someone from the coffeehouse came out and politely asked them to (a) not tear up the signs and (b) please leave now that they have their order so other people can wait at an acceptable social distance from one another, the patron leaped to his feet, got right in the woman's face (and of course he wasn't wearing his mask anymore), and screamed, "I don't have to do what you say! I work in construction! That makes me an essential worker, and it's my right to enjoy a f---ing cup of coffee out here with my friends if I want to. I followed your stupid rules about wearing a mask inside; screw you for trying to take away my freedoms out here on a public street!" (For the record, the planter seating is not on a public street.)
A few people tried to interrupt and talk the guy down, but he kept yelling at the barista and anyone who came to defend her, and his go-to excuse was always, "I'm an essential worker so you should be thanking me and letting me do whatever I want rather than expecting me to follow the rules." It was super awkward and the guy, seeming to suddenly realize that he was making an ass out of himself and everyone was staring at him, suddenly collected his things and left, muttering something about going somewhere that wasn't run by a bunch of fascists.
I can't imagine what it's like to feel entitled to break the rules. I'm a conformist through-and-through. If someone clearly posts expectations about how to act and interact, I try to follow them to the letter. The idea of just ignoring them and doing what I want is completely foreign to me. And then there's the whole matter of using the fact that he's an essential worker (and let's be clear, I would be shocked if he were doing any kind of public works construction project... in our area, odds are that he's a luxury home builder and is able to keep working because the entire construction sector has been preserved as essential) to justify his bad behavior and feeling of entitlement. Even if I did break the rules, my initial reaction to getting called out on it would be to conform or leave, not double down on the "I'm right and you're wrong" strategy.
In situations like this, I never quite know what the most awkward part is... actually witnessing it happening, or the weird silence that descends on the group of people who remain after it's over. I don't think anyone said a word after he left. We all started staring real hard at the pavement in front of us.