November 21 2006

General Rudeness

Shari over at My So-Called Japanese Life has a great post today about the rudeness she and her husband encounter in Tokyo shops and out on the street. She thought this might be exclusive to Tokyo, but alas, it’s not. Let me quote the comment I left her, and then I will build upon it:

Again, afraid this isn’t a Japan only thing. My FAVORITE (and mind you, I live in a town of 17,000) is the person who will be going down a grocery aisle, will see something on the other side that interests them, will then stand in the middle of the aisle so they can keep one hand on their cart, grab the item from the other side…AND THEN WILL READ THE LABEL WITHOUT MOVING! In a Japanese store this would be an easy feat, in an American market, we’re talking some major real estate to accomplish this! They know you’re there, they don’t care!

Now something that is pretty small town-centric is the passing cars syndrome. Let’s say you’re on a side street and two cars are passing each other where the drivers know each other. Why, doesn’t that seem to be a good time to stop right there and chat driver window to driver window? I mean, it IS only a side street, and surely the person behind you is patient enough for two old friends to exchange a few words!

To clarify the grocery cart scenario more, that means their cart is on one side of the aisle, they leave a hand on it, they stand in the middle of the aisle and hold the item they are reading out at a distance, infringing on the other lane of traffic for the aisle. And unless you say “Excuse me”, and just barrel through, they have no clue you are there…yeah, right. You always get the “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.” Mmhmm…sure.

I think this is just indicative of people becoming more and more self-centered. For some reason people everywhere are getting the idea that they are the most important thing out there and everyone else can wait on them. As sad as it is to say, I am kind of glad Shari brought this up because it shows it’s not just in the USA that people are getting more and more self-absorbed. At least we know it’s not just us.

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General Rants Japan

  • Jo

    That’s up there with the family with two full buggies blocking the whole isle while discussing something with a friend they ran into – completely stopping the flow of traffic. When you do say excuse me to get through, they look at you like you are in the wrong. Manners … where did they go?

  • Manners, common decency, common sense…they seem to have all died for some reason.

  • I’m not sure if this is an evolution of attitude based on parents being more self-directed and their children modeling that behavior or them failing to teach awareness of other’s feelings but self-absorption and self-centeredness do appear to be spreading.

    In the U.S., I most frequently read about this with parents who take their children into shared public spaces and feel that everyone ought to accommodate their children (and their poor behavior) at the expense of their own enjoyment of the situation. In Japan, I most frequently witness it on the streets with people who glue their eyes to their phones or dreamily wander around oblivious to their surroundings.

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe this can improve unless there is a serious movement toward courtesy and, at least in the U.S., courtesy is seen as something which is associated with being somehow lacking in confidence. In the states, it all seems to be about money. If you have enough money, you can act badly and people will have to be nice to you. I blame Paris Hilton for the further degradation of society in this regard. ;-)

  • Shari – You hit so many nails on the head. Yes, children in public spaces ARE out of control and everyone is expected to put up with it. And as for money…oi did you ever get that right. And yes, I *do* partially blame Paris Hilton…and shows like Super Sweet 16…and Bridezillas and so on. All shows that showcase people with too much money being whiny asses.