Pat Muir is on assignment. Here’s some classic complaining from 2015.
My frustration is with people who talk when and where they should not.
Unless you need immediate medical attention, please do not talk during a play, concert, performance, etc. I especially get hot under the collar when adult people disrespect a speaker at a school function. To me, this is the height of rudeness.
I would gladly travel around and give a “pre-speech” on how to respect the speakers or performers as well as their fellow audience members. Should I offer my services?
Should you offer your services, Annoyed? No, you should not.
Nobody, but nobody, wants to get a scolding or a manners lesson in the guise of a “pre-speech.” And, practically speaking, it wouldn’t work anyway. People who don’t care about others’ enjoyment of a performance aren’t going to start caring because you told them to.
So where does that leave us? Well, let me tell you a story from the time my wife, Alana, and I went to see “The Martian” at the Orion Cinema. As you may know, that’s the theater where you can have alcoholic beverages delivered right to your seat.
So there’s this couple next to us talking pretty loudly during the previews, and Alana asks them to quiet down. She also asks me to flag down someone who works there and see if they can help. But I’m confrontation-averse in public situations, so I don’t do that. Instead, I just shrug and sit there hoping this couple will knock it off when the movie starts.
There’s a pretty good collection of spent beer bottles on the guy’s tray table, so of course he doesn’t quiet down. He just gets louder and more persistent.
Around then is when I start in with the glares. (I do a really good angry glare.) The woman, increasingly embarrassed by her companion, mouths the word “sorry” and shrugs. But the dude just deflects my knife-sharp glares like they’re nothing and keeps on talking.
So now I have to actually say something. I’ve neglected to get the attention of an usher or server, and all of a sudden there are none around. Meanwhile, I’m missing Matt Damon’s pithy, stuck-on-Mars-but-keeping-my-chin-up shtick because my entire being is overwhelmed by dueling feelings of anger and masculine inadequacy (over the fact that I’m letting this guy ruin this movie for my wife, which is a dumb macho emotion, but whatever).
Plus, I’ve had a couple of beers and, while I’m not drunk like that guy, I’m feeling less confrontation-averse every time the guy opens his mouth. So I tell him to shut up. He does not. Then Alana practically yells at him to shut up. He just gets louder.
Before I know what I’m doing, I’m motioning to this guy, asking him if he wants to go outside and fight. This guy is, like, 60 years old and drunk; I don’t want to actually fight this guy. Like with my fists. Ridiculous.
But it’s either that or do nothing, and my pride is kicking in. I’m committed now. I’m in it. My initial attempt to avoid confrontation has led to a much worse confrontation.
Thankfully for everyone, the drunk guy declines my offer to fight. (For that I’ll be forever grateful.) He gets a little quieter but keeps talking intermittently for the rest of the movie while I sit there and wonder how close I came to getting arrested for fighting an AARP member outside the movie theater.
All of which is to say: Get an usher to help you.
Hope that helps.