Thursday, November 06, 2008

Goofus, Gallant and Rules

Perhaps you too read Highlights magazine as a kid and remember Goofus and Gallant. Whatever the social situation presented, Goofus did the "wrong" or impolite thing, while Gallant did the "right" or polite thing.

I thought of them while in line to vote at 5:50am on Tuesdsay morning.

There were already 10 or so people there when I arrived at my polling place, but because of the configuration of the small lobby, no clear line had formed. I automatically asked where the end of the line was. As did each person who arrived
after me. Someone would point out who had gotten there first and who was last. Each newcomer took his or her place, and with cell phone or iPod waited to be let in. People were smiling, pleasant, and friendly despite the early hour.

I thought, "What a nice neighborhood I live in. This is the American way."

Until a woman barreled her way into the now crowded room and, as it happened, cut in front of me. She didn't make eye contact with anyone. She frowned. Clearly she was, at this moment, a Goofus. So I wondered, what would Gallant do? Would he let her get away with rude behavior, or call her out on it and put peer pressure to work so she'd go to the end of the line?

What makes some people think the rules don't apply to them? Are we obligated as Gallants to speak up, stand up for ourselves, or should we turn the proverbial other cheek and rise above rudeness? How bad does bad behavior need to be before we'll take action?

I chose not to say anything. But obviously I'm still thinking about it.


Eileen said...

People like that drive me INSANE. Sometimes I can let it go- other times- not so much.

Morgan Mandel said...

I have been known to say something if someone cuts in front of me in line. It happened to me at the bank when I went into the designated cordoned off spot, yet a guy came out of nowhere and approached the teller.

He did relinquish the position and politely. Sometimes it pays to stand up for yourself. Of course, it depends on the circumstances.

Yesterday, on my way to work I clearly had the right of way and was already walking in the crosswalk, yet a driver sailed through the stop sign and wouldn't let me continue on. I did shout some nasty words to him as he zoomed by, but that's all I could do, given the circumstances.

Morgan Mandel