Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Young People These Days

So, the other Sunday afternoon I go to see King Kong with my flatmates at the little Hoyts four-plex in Manners Mall. My flatmates have got their tickets, and I head up to the counter to pay for mine.

Behind me is what I take to be a family group: a guy in his 40s plus three kids, sub- to mid-teens. During the 20-30 seconds or so it takes me to order my ticket and pay for it on eftpos, they lose patience with waiting in line.

First, one of the girls leans herself up against the coke machine just to my left. Then the adult sticks his elbow on the counter about half a metre away from where I'm entering my pin number. Then another girl moves in just behind my right shoulder. I tell you, if any of them had been wearing sunglasses and a dark suit I would have been fingering my rosary beads and praying they made it quick.

I finish paying, turn around, and just stand there, because I'm completely hemmed in. The girl on my shoulder does this startled jump back, with a look of surprise on her face, as if to say what, you mean you can't just teleport yourself out of there? (ok, so maybe I already had a pissed off look on my face).

Unbelievable. So, this cinema doesn't have the velvet rails which show you how to line up. But have we lost the lowest common denominator courtesy of allowing someone their personal space while they carry out a transaction?

I've always thought that one of the main compensatory advantages our tight-assed Anglo-Saxon society has over the friendlier Latin cultures I've experienced is that politeness extends beyond speech to action; people know how to wait in line and take their turn. But this was the kind of behaviour that would be thought obnoxious even in Peru.

We'll deal with the movie itself later.


Susan said...

Well, I've noticed the same thing in the supermarket check out queues too and definitely with younger people. One might be tempted to think that all that lining up at school in former times gave people the idea that they might get shoved if they stood too close to someone else. It was certainly indicated to those that got too close or pushy that others wouldn't stand for it. Or is it that they are all sitting at home in front of their computers in relative isolation and don't get experience of how to behave in public? In general good manners and general courtesy have not been valued in New Zealand society for about the last 50 years. Perhaps it's time they were re-instated! If it makes me sound like an old fogey - I guess I am!

Simon Bidwell said...

what really bugged me was that the father / uncle / adult figure was in there with them, practically breathing down my neck. And not just that they were too close (this bugsme in the supermarket checkout as well) but that I literally had no way out.

But yes, think it is related to the cellphone syndrome, where you carry your digitally-enhanced private bubble world around with you and other human beings are reduced to ciphers.

Helen said...

re tech-bubble: not to mention "I" Pods (me-domes). I suggest that these isolation mechanisms are a response to Pleistocene minds in a post-modern (ugh!) society. Enhancing anonymity and reducing other people to soul-less vessels (ie can't communicate because language becomes impossible due to headphones) serves as psychological protectionism. This makes rudeness more legitimate. Rudeness then filters through to all circumstances: like smkt and movie queues.