Monday, May 7, 2012

so this one time, on the plane...



Everyone was on their feet, carry–ons and personal items collected, waiting for the airplane doors to finally open. We’d been standing for a while. It had already taken what seemed like forever for the pilots to taxi the plane to the gate, so needless to say, we were all antsy and very ready to get the hell out of there.

The guy behind me, who had somehow managed to slither himself between my husband and me, was shoving me… again. I was not particularly comfortable with the way he was poking me with his body and belongings, nudging me forward. I had nowhere to go. So, finally, I turned to him and said:

"You can shove all you want, it’s not gonna make me go faster and it’s certainly not gonna make all the people waiting, ahead of me, move any faster either.” 

Maybe not verbatim, but definitely something in those lines, with a polite but firm tone nevertheless. 
Clear, concise, and logical. Right?

His reply was eloquent in its simplicity:

Fatass!”

He said it after I had turned away. He said it to my back essentially – presumably to my fat ass – but he said it loud enough that I heard him. That others heard him.

I turned around and give him a dirty look. You know, the polite but outraged one?

I said nothing.

He continued to intermittently shove me and call me a fatass. I pretended to ignore him, though the hairs on the back of my neck were in their upright position. We eventually progressed forward at an excruciatingly slow pace, through the plane, the walkway and to the gate, where I met up with my husband. The guy, who was still right behind me, had the audacity to wave and shout one last “Bye bye, fatass!” my way.

I continued to say nothing.





Norman, the old poop, who was in his usual tizzied state about getting to the luggage carousel in a hurry, didn't notice anything. 


We collected our bags and 
proceeded with our vacation.








For days afterwards, I wondered whether I should've said something and thought about what would've been the ideal thing to say. Sure, I was outwardly chillaxing in the sun, but mentally, I was on a relentless hunt for the perfect reply -- the one that would've made him see the error of his ways and sob in utter shame in the middle of the airport, begging for my forgiveness; the one striking the right balance between erudite, proper, firm, and thoroughly stunning (maybe even with a hint of haughty, sure, why not) properties. Failing to achieve that, several variations with the word fuck used as an adjective may have been contemplated. A few possibilities including anatomically impossible situations may have come to mind. References to his mother may have also been considered, at some point, the appeal of which may or may not have been directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed.

I just couldn't let it go. 

Part of me was absolutely indignant about his comment, but the other part was keenly aware that after having fractured my spine and been out of commission for a while, my ass was indeed fat. Though that was neither here nor there, it didn’t help my outrage to know that he was, at least technically, right. Also, it didn't help that he wasn't exactly what you would call trim and slender, either.

I was brought up to be a respectful person.
To say please and thank you.
To wait in line.
To wait for my turn.
To be kind to strangers.
To turn the other cheek.
To take the high road.

What I was not taught, sadly, was the art of the retort, at least not the kind useful in a confrontational exchange. So instead of being well versed in shutting the face of an offensive moron, I proceed to react in the weirdest, physical way: my heart races, my body alternates between hot and cold, like when someone is messing with the shower’s water temperature, and my hands start shaking noticeably. 

Almost always, I come up with a great comeback… after the fact.

Does this sound familiar? Do you think that sometimes rude-for-rude may be justified?
How do you answer a complete stranger who insults you for seemingly no good reason? 
Would you have said something? What would you have said?



My blogger friend Melanie of is this the middle? wrote a post about a moment when she was shamed about her appearance . While pondering about what I had personally experienced, I recalled this somewhat related incident, oddly not too deep in the recesses of my memory. 
This happened a long time ago. 
The me now would handle it differently. 
Probably. 
Maybe.



47 Comments:

At 5/7/12, 9:02 AM , Blogger Jeri 2.0 said...

Oh sweetie, most of us smart-mouthed, uppity bitches have the racing, pounding heart and tunnel vision and spiking blood pressure when we are being confrontational. And like you, I'm married to what I would politely call a wuss when it comes to confrontation with other people. I've always had to fight my own battles, which is fine, I'm much better at it than he is.

My usual response if I'm so taken aback that nothing scathing comes to mind is to look the person up and down and laugh or smirk. Man or woman, it doesn't really matter - it's the whole concept that what they've just said is beneath your contempt or any effort to respond.

In your airport case, I probably would have responded with something along the lines of 'Wow lardass, I take it you can't afford a mirror,' or made a cheap shot about his clothing or haircut or breath or something.

Considering that you were in an airport and security is usually quite high, I might, after he kept it up, turned and politely told him that if he assaulted me just one more time I would start yelling for security - and I would follow through. I'm not above using whatever tools are handy in my quest for vengeance.

 
At 5/7/12, 9:37 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Jeri, I adore you! There, I said it. I want to travel with you, I want to have your babies, I want to feed you grapes in the bathtub (rethinking the having your babies logic, but I stand by everything else).

What are you doing the first week of August?

 
At 5/7/12, 10:34 AM , Blogger michael adams said...

Crap...that post got my adrenaline running! I don't know what the hell is wrong with people when they travel. Also, I believe that the cretin you had to endure would only act the way he did to a woman. For some reason, men feel they can get away with being physically aggressive and unacceptably condescending towards women and I don't get it.

He was a bully at a minimum, but I wonder if he wasn't physically beyond a legal limit?

I've been thinking a lot recently about how to deal with bullies, particularly, when I see someone being bullied. I think that it is important for bystanders to stop being bystanders. Someone needed to say something like, "Hey man, you gotta stop! Leaver her alone, this isn't OK." And then stand in between you and the bully.

In terms of what you should have done...maybe turn quickly on numerous occasions using a reasonable radius and bumping your harasser and say different things to your husband, "Hi honey, I love you."

Thirty seconds later, stumble backwards and turn to the jerk, "oh so sorry, someone up front stumbled into me. Things are so cramped here, maybe you want to back up a bit."

Another thirty or forty seconds later, turn and lean into his personal space, but look past him at your husband, and start a loud conversation about something really stupid. "I've been thinking about the third episode of Gilligan's Island and I've been meaning to ask your opinion about how Ginger treated Mr. Howell when they found that coconut lying on the beach..."

He'll back up at some point, or ask your husband if he wants to switch places.

 
At 5/7/12, 12:29 PM , Blogger Carole said...

The only time I can remember doing a good retort was when I calmly asked - are you naturally rude and ignorant or did you practice to get that way? Not exactly turning the other cheek.

 
At 5/7/12, 2:04 PM , Blogger ToscaSac said...

Unless I thought I was being pushed because of my appearance I would have turned around and asked that my personal space be more respected in a lighter tone.

Humor can often go a long way.

After that I would 'look' at my husband...

I would be expecting him to put himself between me and anyone who did not know how to act.

From what I hear I have a sharp quick tongue. I might have sized up the pusher and said something pithy if I thought it would silence him.

"Oh mr big shot likes to push on women." might come out of my mouth loud enough for others to hear...

When I think a smart comment is going to fall on deaf ears or go over the intended targets head I keep them to myself & friends.

 
At 5/7/12, 2:08 PM , Blogger Megan said...

What the heck???

I do not like mean people.

 
At 5/7/12, 2:16 PM , Anonymous April said...

If I was in your position, I might have started a staring contest with him using that glare. I've made men much bigger (both height- and muscle-wise) back down with that stare.

Of course, considering that this didn't happen to me and I have time to think about it, in the event that this ever DOES happen to me, I'm going to call out to security that the man is behaving and speaking to me in a violent and threatening manner. As I understand it, security doesn't take situations like that very lightly these days.

Other options that I would think but probably wouldn't say (probably...)

Him: Fatass.
Me: (smiling sweetly) Yes, and I've lost 30 pounds over the past month and am still losing. You, however, will always be an ugly asshole.

 
At 5/7/12, 2:22 PM , Blogger Hilary said...

What an ass hat! I think it is great you told him about pushing you in the first place...he felt like the idiot he was, and rather than appologizing and owning up to his actions he had to go down to a child's level.... I think that it was probably best that you didn't say anything further... not worth it..> But, I am like you.. I come up with great comebacks, but after the fact... Sometimes I get the chance to use them, but most time, I just kick myself for not thinking of it sooner....

 
At 5/7/12, 4:29 PM , Blogger TangledLou said...

I felt my neck hairs prickle on your behalf. I'm about 50/50 on coming up with the perfect retort for other people's rudeness. What I'm 100% on is the shame I feel after outing with the perfect retort, stooping to the level of rudeness that I'm combating. I never, ever feel better for having said something sassy. What makes me feel loads better is returning rudeness with something sincerely loving and kind. "I'm so sorry you're having a hard day." Something like that. Then they can be the ones with the prickly neck hairs and burning shame for acting like such a douche. Sometimes people even apologize for their rudeness.

 
At 5/7/12, 4:32 PM , Blogger TangledLou said...

Oh, and in airplane-specific situations, I just fart a lot and people cut me a wide berth.

 
At 5/7/12, 5:03 PM , Anonymous Pearlsa said...

Sound just like be I can only think of great comebacks after the fact.

 
At 5/7/12, 7:10 PM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Very interesting answers, all. As soon as I kick this headache, I'll be back to reply individually. Thanks for your visit :)

 
At 5/7/12, 8:56 PM , Blogger Colleen said...

OMG what kind of AH is it?(sorry for my language. But, I can't help)
I do not have nay respect for rude people. However, I would become numb in such a situation. Rude-for-rude can be justified! The problem with me is that I've never mastered the artistic skill of the retort. Shame on me.

 
At 5/7/12, 9:24 PM , Anonymous Norman, the old poop said...

I was there? How did I not see or hear any of this?

 
At 5/7/12, 10:27 PM , Blogger michael adams said...

oh...I forgot! Tara told me that when she was returning from the Erma Bombeck conference, some guy was playing music on his ipad without head-phones. Everyone sat there for a long time, ignoring him, until finally someone asked him to put in his head-phones.

When she told me about it, I smiled a mischievous little grin and said that I would have started singing along with his music. Except, I'd sing a little off tune and a little out of sync with the actual song.

He'd decide that he needs to put his ear-phones on to enjoy his music and no one had to tell him to do so!

 
At 5/8/12, 6:29 AM , Blogger Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

What a absolute butthole. Rude folks tick me off. I hate it he called you a name. In a situation like that my husband can come up with something great to say. Me not so much. I am like you, I always think of things to say after the fact.

 
At 5/8/12, 10:02 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

It happened so fast (though it didn't feel like it at the time) that I was stunned, I guess. My adrenaline was running too, plus, it seemed like it was just a matter of seconds before the doors would open and we would all just deplane and be on our separate ways. So it seemed fruitless to make a big deal about it.

I do like your answer, make HIM uncomfortable. And I agree with you, people around us could have stepped in. But since my husband didn't see or hear anything, I wonder if others did either, actually.

 
At 5/8/12, 10:04 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

LOL nope, not exactly turning the other cheek. At all. I thought of something similar but once I put his mother in the formula, it stopped being useful :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:06 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I like that! Loud enough for others to hear, including the hubby who was stuck behind him and apparently didn't see/hear anything. I like that a lot!

 
At 5/8/12, 10:06 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I wonder how he remembers this episode. Was he congratulating himself on "handling" me?

 
At 5/8/12, 10:09 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Laughing so hard at the idea of a staring contest...

Security would have been a little hard to call out, since we were all standing in the aisles, waiting to deplane. But I admit, I never even thought about calling for help till you guys mentioned it.

And good answer :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:12 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Someone on FB commented about this in a way that implied that it was the fact that I said that, in the first place, that turned the situation ugly. I couldn't see myself being pushed and poked without saying *something*. I did not anticipate his answer though, that's for sure.

 
At 5/8/12, 10:15 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I know what you mean. I couldn't come up with the perfect retort that didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth either. Maybe it was a good thing that I couldn't think of it fast enough. I'm having a hard time seeing me answering with such a caring way after being called a "fatass" though.

Maybe if I had said this first: "Look, I can see that you are in a hurry, but please don't shove me. Would you like to maybe get in front of me?" the whole thing could have been avoided.

You are a better person than me :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:16 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Noted :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:17 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

That pesky adrenaline that blocks all other brain activity, yup, I hear you :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:19 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

What I am still struggling with is: if I had said nothing at all, from the beginning, and offered to switch places, the situation would have been different. But why should I be the one to make concessions for someone who was rude enough to shove me in the first place? Why is it always the polite people who have to make allowances for rude people? Rude shouldn't win.

 
At 5/8/12, 10:22 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I'm sorry. I didn't say anything because I didn't think it was your job to protect me. I'm a big girl. I have traveled and dealt with idiots before we got married. It's nice of you to feel protective, but it's unnecessary.

 
At 5/8/12, 10:28 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

There is this phenomenon that psychologists have studied (bystander effect) whereas the bigger the crowd, the less people step out to help. Everyone assumes someone else would do it.

I love how you deflected both situations (in your previous comment and now). Still laughing at the Gilligan's Island discussion. Maybe I should travel with you from now on :)

 
At 5/8/12, 10:30 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

My husband is great at changing the situation to his advantage, without having to say anything, probably a lot more calmly than me. If this had happened to him, he would have easily switched places and be done with it. But then again, rude guys don't tend to shove other guys, know what I mean?

 
At 5/8/12, 10:45 AM , Anonymous Heather@ Creative Family Moments said...

I feel your pain. The witty retort always comes much, much later after the shock that someone can be so rude. I loved Michael Adams story & possible scenario about the man without headphones. If only I could be so bold... so funny!

 
At 5/8/12, 4:14 PM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Witty... almost forgot about that.. witty, disarming. Yup, very hard to defuse a situation without the wit.

I love Mike's answers too. He is too cool.

 
At 5/8/12, 5:22 PM , Blogger Romance Book Haven said...

OMG! I can identify with this post! I would've thought of a suitable retort by 3 am the next morning!

But loved reading all these comment!

Nas

 
At 5/8/12, 6:19 PM , Blogger Melanie said...

Was he on the crack-pipe? What a pathetic weasel. Wienie. Poop head. Yep, he's bringing me down to his level.
Why am I even wondering what was going on in his pea-brain?
My mother, a lady of seemingly infinite patience and restraint, once told me, "Some people are just pig-s--t."
Because of the polite upbringing many of us had, the crushing retort does not come naturally for us.
I stew for days over stuff like this, too.
I want to clobber him for you, if that helps. Guess this is not my night for mature advice, but loved the post and the questions you raise.
Above all, it is not FAT!

 
At 5/9/12, 11:49 AM , OpenID nurseplummer said...

The older I have gotten the quicker my tongue, but only if the situation requires biting and caustic. On that, I am faster than a cowgirl with her six shooter. My usual reply to start with is a resounding EXXXCUUSSSEE ME (sometimes with a question mark and sometimes with an explanation). Next I go to: You have got to be kidding me! And, lastly: Next time you touch me and I am going to scream for an Air Marshall (actually, have never had a situation for that, but it just came to me). Now that I have said it, that would have maybe caused Mr. Issues some consternation.

In any case, at least you came away with your dignity and are fortunate that guy isn't in your life.

 
At 5/9/12, 6:45 PM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Hiyya Nas and welcome :)
Very interesting comments indeed. Thanks for the visit.

 
At 5/9/12, 6:47 PM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

LOL Melanie. If this is your immature side, I'm liking it :)
I usually advocate walking a mile in someone's shoes to understand where they're coming from. But in this case, who cares! Your momma was right.

 
At 5/9/12, 6:52 PM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

My problem was getting on the defensive instead of the offensive, I get that. I honestly didn't think to involve anyone (flight crew, other passengers, even my own husband, almost directly behind him).

You're absolutely right, even without resorting to name calling, I could have answered in the offensive, and that would've been the right thing to do: let him answer to more than just me, whom he was apparently having too much fun bullying.

Thanks for your visit :)

 
At 5/9/12, 9:04 PM , Blogger michael adams said...

Sometimes, I really get a kick out of spending some time thinking of how I'd respond in different situations...it amuses me!

I've really settled on taking a flank and avoiding the head on. I'm so glad you liked the Gilligan's Island idea. I think that is one of my best! LOL

I'm sure we could fit Richard Simmons into the whole morass too! :-p

 
At 5/9/12, 9:06 PM , Blogger michael adams said...

LOL...snort! "Wienie. Poop head." OMG you made me laugh with that!

 
At 5/9/12, 9:12 PM , Blogger michael adams said...

oh, I just thought of another one! Affect a great big smile and start bouncing around excitedly. "We're gonna get off the plane soon! I can't wait!" Turn around and with a serious expression say, "we're getting out of here soon...that'll be great, I think you just had some bad gas! Would you care for a Pepto?"

 
At 5/10/12, 10:31 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I think my mistake was not settling on a strategy but instead just vociferating endlessly and in a circle. We're in agreement and I have some more thinking to do.

Richard Simmons' shorts alone would occupy me for a whole week :)

 
At 5/10/12, 10:40 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

LOL. One of my comebacks was to actually smile big and excitedly grab his arm and say, "Why THANK you for saying that!!! It took a LOT of expensive meals to get my ass this fat, SO glad to meet a like-minded person who also appreciates the effort. Can't wait to taste all the wonderful meals on this trip, something tells me you do too?" But it didn't ring true (see the mention of the fractured spine and lack of mobility/exercise mentioned above).

One thing's for sure, if I ever meet this guy or this situation again, I am plenty armed, thanks to you :)

 
At 5/14/12, 4:04 AM , Blogger Laine Griffin said...

What??!! That is the craziest thing! I can't understand what is wrong with people.
I probably would have dropped the F-bomb. Then cried in the bathroom.

 
At 5/14/12, 9:37 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

I swear if this hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have believed it. I SAW it and HEARD it and I still don't believe it. I guess tight spaces brings out the worst in people. There's always talk of "road rage", I think "airplane rage" is just as real.

 
At 5/15/12, 2:32 PM , Blogger Nini Kahler said...

I've always been feisty, but as a young girl I was always getting into fist fights, be they male or female. Now I do avoid problems when I can, especially with my own familia. But during the time that my hubby and I were either jobless or homeless (and my children living elsewhere), I had a bone to pick with the world. During those days I have no doubt that I would have taken the guys to the ground. And husband would have just watched (unless I was getting my butt kicked), and not because he wouldn't want to help me, but because he knows I can take good care of myself. LOL!

I wish I could have been there to handle that guys for you, Megan. I would sent his nuggets back inside his body. Somebody, PLEASE, stop me. I am feeling my temperature rising. :)

Much love and BIG virtual hugs, Amiga!
~Virginia

 
At 5/16/12, 9:31 AM , Blogger Megan@MondayMorningMusings said...

Never cross Virginia, especially when you see her temperature rising. Noted :)

 
At 5/30/12, 11:06 AM , Blogger RoryBore said...

I so wish I had been there with you. I can take someone out at 45 yards with a snappy retort. it's a gift really. I do try to only use my powers for good though :)

here's your line:

"hey fuckie! when you become a f#ckin marvel of modern science, I'll be the first to shake your hand. until then...well, just who the f*ck are you anyway? Wait...thats' rhetorical. Now Drift."

you're welcome.

 

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