As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking forward to seeing acclaimed scientist/atheist/author Richard Dawkins at Portland’s Wordstock literary festival. Yesterday was the big day, and Dawkins drew a sizable crowd- so large that the beginning of his speech had to be delayed thirty minutes while a room partition could be opened to accommodate all the attendees. Dawkins didn’t disappoint – his lecture was informative, engaging, and really funny. The first portion of his time was devoted to reading excerpts from his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth (which was included in the $22 admission – good deal!), the second half was spent on audience Q & A. Without going into minute detail, he was informative, charming, and I’d definitely see him again if given the opportunity.
On another note, I had a bit of a Larry David moment during the lecture. I was sitting next to an older man who apparently thought it was perfectly appropriate to suck loudly on hard candies in the middle of a quiet roomful of attentive listeners. And by “older”, I’m talking Dorothy, not Sophia- old enough to know better, without that possibly-senile license to allow such behavior. Seriously, this guy was disgusting, with his smacking away and slurping candy juices inside his mouth. Just gross. I had an ethical dilemma on my hands – he was ruining my ability to concentrate, infuriating my boyfriend on my other side, and visibly disturbing other people around us. His companions didn’t seem to mind, for some incomprehensible reason… so I felt as though the social responsibility was mine to shush him. But was that rude? Out of line? In any case, I reached a breaking point. I tapped his arm and said, “I’m sorry- that’s quite distracting. The chewing- it’s very distracting!” He stared at me silently like I’d slapped him in the face, but he stopped.
My reason for sharing this story is to encourage similar behavior. If someone’s parents never had the presence of mind to teach manners to their children, I think it’s appropriate for those of us who do know better to correct those errors, even if it’s sixty years past due. So come on, all of you who have silently endured such an annoying situation – speak up, in the name of manners and consideration. Speak up politely, but speak up nonetheless. While none of us are perfect, sometimes a person clearly needs to be called out on their rude behavior, and we should have the balls to do so!
Dawkins has his soapbox, and now I’ve got mine.