Had a really fascinating lunch today. Rocky was telling me how he was walking to work when this man in a suit holding a briefcase shoulder checked this elderly lady and said, “Sorry” really sarcastically, without even checking to see if she was OK. It looked to Rocky that the guy did it on purpose and it was a full-on shoulder into her chest kind of action, so his (Rocky’s) response was to shove him up against a wall. The man asked if he had a problem, and Rocky gestured towards the lady, and the man just walked off, while Rocky went to see if she was OK. Despite the fact that there were probably about thirty people around, nobody else stepped in.
To be honest, I was completely horrified when he told me this story, which I think must have shown on my face, because Rocky asked what I would have done. At first, I laughed and said, “You should really use your words, violence isn’t the answer.” But then I admitted, I would likely have thought about doing something, but in reality, would have just stood there. The bystander effect in action.
His response was that he was sick of people just standing around doing nothing when terrible things like that happen. There are so many people who are just scum, and because people don’t punish them for it, they continue being scum.
I would like to point out that despite his name, Rocky isn’t a big guy. In fact, he’s probably skinnier than me, but he is taller. If you saw him, you probably wouldn’t guess that he’s as tank as he is. He showed me some topless photos of himself, and he is pretty muscly, but I think it’s that lean kind of muscle. So if he had shoved me up against a wall, my first response would be that I could probably take him in a fight.
But the rude guy didn’t. Rocky said the rude guy was much bigger than him, but he wasn’t afraid. I actually thought it was admirable that he was willing to stand up to someone like that.
The thing is, if someone got into a fight in front of me, for my honour, or something stupid like that, I would be disgusted. I think we are well beyond the time where arguments are settled with fists, and logic should prevail. If someone is being a dick, well, you can just ignore them, and over time, their dickish behaviour will result in them being surrounded by other dicks, and like low priority queue in Dota 2, they can all be in their little bubble while the rest of us continue on with our lives.
So while Rocky’s behaviour makes me uncomfortable, I wonder how much of that stems from the fact that he was able to do something while I would have stood there doing nothing? Talk is cheap, and until I have the courage to stand up for someone else, who am I to say that he’s wrong? If I were in the same situation, at worst all I would have done is given the guy a mean look. Yep, that’s going to make him change his ways, I’m sure of it.
I say that I want to make the world a better place, but what have I really done other than contribute some badly written vegan recipes?
He told me some other stuff about his childhood, which I won’t repeat here, but I find it fascinating that two people who are so similar could have taken such different paths. Our childhoods sound nothing alike. While we share some similar personality traits and likes, I feel like we are polar opposites in… I don’t know what the word for it is, but it’s like the way that we ended up the way we are is completely different. A bit like convergent evolution.
I honestly feel like he’s a completely different person in my eyes now. I’m both scared of him and fascinated by him at the same time. Yet another person who I’m not able to file neatly away in a box. I’m starting to rack up a heap of these.