Chivalry is dead

At least in SF.

If you’re my Facebook friend, you’ve already heard me ranting about the altercation MB and I had with a middle-aged douche in Union Square over the weekend.  If not, you get to read all about it here.

Apologies to my East Coast friends, but we had a gorgeous weekend.  Sunny, upper 60s.  MB and I spent a good part of Saturday and Sunday in Union Square – he played his guitar, I read and tried to write – which while lovely is overrun with tourists.

We were maneuvering our way through the crowded and narrow sidewalk just outside of Macy’s when I noticed a guy engrossed in his Blackberry, blocking the way.  Now, the guy wasn’t right smack in the middle, but he was standing perpendicular against the building.  In other words, his body was still blocking at least 1/3 of the walking path, the walking path that I was on.

“Excuse me,” I said to him as we neared.  When he didn’t move, I told him, “You’re right in everyone’s way.”

That’s when he flipped.  “How am I in the way?” he shouted after us.  He was in his 60s, had on a polo sweater, khakis, and boat shoes with tassels.  “Answer my question. How am I in the way? I’m standing against the building. How is this in the way?”

“Look,” MB said.  “All she said was excuse me.”

“No, she said I was in the way.”

“I said,” I said, “excuse me. But you didn’t move. Then I said you were in the way.”

“You have no right to talk to me like that.  How can you talk to people like that?”

“All she said was excuse me,” MB kept saying.

This went back and forth for a couple of minutes till finally the guy said, “You’re crazy. You’re certifiable to think I was in the way.”

I almost started to laugh.  Good comeback!

We left but then MB said, “No, I’m going back,” then went after the guy although he had already crossed the street.  I can’t even remember what he said, really, but I do remember the boat shoe douche’s face got very red as he shouted, “What is this really about? I don’t suffer fools! You’re a fool! You’re foolish!”

Look, dude, if someone says, “Excuse me,” obviously you’re in the way.  You don’t ignore them just because *you* think you’re not in the way.  And if you heard me say, “You’re right in the way,” you heard me say, “Excuse me.”  And by the way, standing perpendicular to a building, if you’re six feet tall and 200 pounds, is not standing out of the way.

I wasn’t really surprised by this.  What I’ve noticed around here, more than the East Coast, is this passive aggressive sense of entitlement by white people 40 and over.  From the women I almost expect it, but from the men I expect a wee bit of chivalry, not refusing to get out of my way, or pushing in front of me, or ignoring me as I hold open the door for you, which I’ve experienced a lot here (especially for some reason on Fillmore Street).

Not that there aren’t rude men in New York.  But more often than not, they’re younger, and the older guys tend to be more old world – from Italy, Greece, or some other European country.  Here you know they grew up with their mommies spoiling them, and everyone telling them exactly what they want to hear all their lives.

The only upside is the now I appreciate when people are genuinely polite, and I don’t mean fake-polite, expecting me to kiss your ass for common courtesy.


  1. I’m glad MB said something to him. I’ve noticed the entitlement here too- except it’s not just practiced by the 40+ white guys. It’s practiced by everyone- but it’s definitely a lot more pronounced in that demographic.
    I remember once I was at a red light and waiting for some pedestrians to go so I could turn right. This guy in a car snuck up on my right and cut in front of me, almost hitting the pedestrian. This happens often in that intersection because the road is so wide. I had a tough day at work so I just went for it and we both went speeding up the hill with his car butting into my lane. He followed me to my house and screamed at me because he was in the “right turning lane”. I informed him that there was no right turning lane, it was all one lane, I was in front of him and I was willing to show him and the police that fact when they showed up. That’s when he shut up, got back into his car and sped off.
    He was a middle aged white guy.
    I couldn’t believe it.
    It was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done but I was just sick of all the crap I get from people who think they own this town.

    • G – good for you for standing up to that asshole! i seem to remember that you live in Vancouver? MB lived there for many years, and had similar experiences as you. once a car cut him off as he was walking. MB shouted at him, and the guy stopped the car and punched him in the face! and the witnesses said, “well, he was mouthing off at the driver.” yeah, b/c the driver almost hit him! unbelievable.

  2. […] *Sigh.*  What is it about people and their sense of entitlement? […]