Note to Self: The Impatient Young Man

This morning, you were standing at the Metra platform, waiting for the train. While there were a few others nearby, it wasn’t overly crowded. When the train pulled up the doors more or less aligned to where you were standing, opening right in front of you.

Out of nowhere, this young man appeared and zipped along the edge of the platform. As the few passengers exited, he slid right up to the door and was the first in (bypassing a few others who, like you, were waiting patiently to step on board).

It was a rude, me-first kind of gesture that made you feel that he was just looking out for #1.

It was a younger man, I’d say very late 20’s or early 30’s. He was wearing a dark, navy suit with nice, brown shoes. He had a briefcase and an umbrella with him, and nearly everything about him looked clean, slick, well tended.

You boarded, and eventually sat in the seats across the aisle from him. You thought about muttering something under your breath, but decided against it. Instead, you just thought to yourself “Man, what a jerk.”

Soon after he sat down, this young man broke out a binder, a pen, and a calculator. He had his head down the rest of the train ride, and you didn’t really notice this until the train was rolling in to its final stop, downtown.

He was working, the whole time.

So it turned out that he wasn’t necessarily being a rude person. He was in a rush, yes. But he wanted or needed to get some things done, before arriving at his job.

Here’s the thing I want you to remember: you made a series of assumptions, based on this young man’s appearance. Given how he was dressed, given how he looked… you assumed a certain intention on his part. You assumed him to be a particular type of person.

And you were wrong.

Keep in mind Hanlon’s razor, but maybe a more benign version of it.

Better yet, remember what water is.

[CC photo by riccardo.fissore]

Eating Ice Cream During a Polar Vortex
Note to Self (2008)
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (by David Foster Wallace)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Aaand I have a completely different take on the matter.

    Young, rude man was (imho) looking out for #1. He bumped into a person who was still trying to exit the train – without apology – and continued to shove past as a person was trying to get off.

    Yes, he sat down and was going over numbers – but on the other side of his folio he had a resume. He wasn’t working, he was interview prepping; hence his nice suit.


    Liz Reply

    • If he was going in to an interview, maybe that’s why he was in a rush?

      I didn’t see the bumping (and no-apology). And here I was trying to be all glass half-full.

      avoision Reply

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