|"I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down."|
-- Tom Petty
It's not healthy to get too much of it. My mind seizes when there's an overdose. It's hurtled my way from several altitudes each day I'm a transit operator. At home, there is a blissful and comforting, complete... lack of it.
In the absence of LOVE, I can finally be at peace. When confronted with this beast of humanity's lowest behavior, my hackles rise. Blood pressure spikes, face reddens, fists and jaw clench. Somehow, I'm able to squelch my disgust of such evil and not smash my fists through something.
As I drove my route one day, a teen aged boy, whose peach fuzz permeated an oily acne jungle only overshadowed by his dragon breath, decided to test my patience of this overrated condition. Every other word in each of his sentences was punctuated with variations of "fuck." Normally, we hear it uttered in the normal conversations of the lowest common denominator of those whom we transport. It's part of the cargo, and a gentle reminder to keep language rated "G" is usually met with muttered apologies from the offenders.
It's a word I use as well. It's extremely versatile. While the dictionary considers its use "vulgar," it fails to mention that it's a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, expletive, exclamatory, punctuative, and punitive. There are other uses, but you get the drift. Unfortunately, this word has become part of the culture. Where it was once whispered, giggled over when we were kids, it is now commonplace. We hear it on TV, the web, in daily conversation. People consider it normal, when it is actually a lazy replacement for more creative vocabulary. However, overuse can make people uncomfortable. People of advanced generations can take offense and complain if a certain decor isn't followed. Young children shouldn't be exposed to its use. And most of all, it's disruptive to a calm transit atmosphere.
"Please," I requested over the public announcement system when Junior's use of it had annoyed me an ounce less than my first wife, "keep your conversations at a G-rated level, avoiding the use of profanity on the bus. Thank you."
My admonishment was general, yet obvious as to whom it was pointed. Junior took offense.
"I have the right to free speech," he whined.
"Not on my bus," I replied.
"I have bus fare," he countered. "I have a right to be on this bus, and I can say whatever I want."
"There are limits, young man," I said. "When you board the bus, you are a passenger on a public conveyance. You have entered into a contract which binds you to behave in a manner that is not disruptive or offensive. If you can't abide by these terms, you are free to walk."
"You can't tell me how to talk." Junior was full of righteous indignation. It actually made me smile, this boy who was in diapers just yesterday, trying to argue.
"If your behavior interrupts the peaceful glide of my ride, oh yeah... I most certainly can." My ornery rising, I couldn't stop there. "Besides, you confuse 'rights' with 'privileges.' Rights are inherent, not given. Riding a bus is a form of the latter, and this privilege can be revoked. I suggest you invest in a thesaurus, learn some creative alternatives to common vulgarities."
Junior wasn't up to the debate. Probably can't even spell 'Constitution' without thinking hard about it. He cleaned up his speech, but one glance in my mirror told me he was stewing somethin' fierce. His little-boy-wanting-to-be-a-man face was scrunched up like he was pooping.
At long last, his stop beckoned. I braced for his predictable onslaught on exit. Because you see, it's the coward's favorite battle tactic: get the last word in as you're headed out. I was pleased to have almost guessed his exact response.
"Have a great FUCKING day, asshole," he roared in his adolescently-cracking baby growl.
"The same to you," I chuckled. An elderly man was boarding as Junior left, and he shook his head.
"No respect, these punks," he lamented.
"Indeed," was all I could say.
Junior has a surprise waiting the next time he rides and thinks he's "won" the battle. A road supervisor is aware of his behavior, and plans a little visit to my bus. A police presence might be a nice touch for extra emphasis. I'm sure a certain act of riot will be read so that his undeveloped mind can understand. A visit to his principal is a possibility as well. His face has been recorded from several angles while he was my passenger. His 'victory' is about to crumble. And the beautiful part is that he's unaware of the possible ramifications of his behavior. I can hardly wait to see his face when understanding sets in between those juvenile lobes.
You see, that boy was giving me LOVE (Loud Obnoxious Vulgar Entitlement) the whole time. And that, folks, I can do without.