Coastal Commuter

Jerks on the loose

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 I travel a lot. No surprise there, since I write a column called “The Coastal Commuter.” One of the various things that I’ve learned on my journeys is that you’ll run into annoying people wherever you go. I guess it should be a comfort. You know, like, okay, they’re everywhere. It’s not that any of us is a specific magnet for them or that there’s a geographical component governing the preponderance of ignorance or entitlement.

Before anyone misconstrues this as misanthropy, I just want to assure you that there are good, friendly, kind, and helpful people everywhere too. In fact, I think that they far outnumber the negative, destructive, inept, aggravating contingent. But, as the old saying goes, one bad apple ruins the pie. Or something like that. And I don’t want to ever get sick from a slice of pie.

The wide distribution notwithstanding, a specific urban area can have its own variety of idiot or jerk. That goes for the rural territories too. So no place I’ve ever been is free of the uninformed, heedless, arrogant, or dim; nor does any region have a monopoly on them. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Belief systems are irrelevant. There are god-fearing goons and atheist asses. Their economic status can range from poor to super-rich and any income level in the middle. Whoever and wherever they are, the commonality is annoyance.


They even hijack and undermine our means of communication. Telemarketers are obvious demons — or maybe a stream of jabbering mosquitoes in your ear. If you can finally get past the automated phone service set up as a blockade by local and national government agencies, your insurance company, or that department store you foolishly patronized, there are legions of unpleasant or difficult lurkers at the other end of the line to make matters worse when you need information or assistance. From what I’ve heard, it goes both ways. I know a switchboard operator at a resort hotel who has told me on more than on occasion of what she has experienced in her dealings with abhorrent and thick-headed “guests” of the establishment. Their demands and lack of comprehension exceed the realm of reason, even at a business that is all about hospitality and comfort.

Thanks to the “magic” of social media, the creeps can gleefully drop into your comment threads and wreak havoc. How many political or personal discussions on your Facebook page or Twitter account have been hijacked by a no-nothing or a hatemonger, sometimes a person you actually know — or thought you knew. Plenty of friendships have hit the skids from those online altercations.

But the most irritating creatures of the world are never more bothersome than when you encounter them face-to-face, one-on-one. Who is worse? A smug clerk or an unhelpful receptionist? Have you met the roller-derby elbow of someone compelled to be the first to get on a bus or be seated on an airplane? Of course you have, and, for the record, I have the bruises from my own adventures in boarding. Uh-oh. What’s this? Ignoring your pleas for leniency, a parking control officer with a quick trigger-finger issues a ticket right as you get back to your car, seconds after the meter expired. Too bad.


I suppose patience is necessary when it comes to those special customers lined up in front of you at your favorite café — the ones whose coffee order is as long and convoluted as a Thomas Pynchon novel, and whose payment card or phone QR code is subsequently refused. Or how about the loser who commandeers a table and spends hours on the laptop while nursing a single cup of coffee? And there should be a cozy booth in hell for any person who approaches a doorman at a nightclub, is refused entry, and responds by saying, “Don’t you know who I am?” Wait a second. Sorry. That’s me.

Much to my chagrin, the ignoramuses, boors, and louts seem to be omnipresent. So it behooves us to have coping strategies in place. It’s all too easy to get exasperated or thoroughly infuriated when forced to interact with those whose apparent mission in life is to make your life more disagreeable. In truth, one can only take a deep breath and try to embrace the Zen. Your stress level will taper off, your nerves will ease, and your blood pressure will lower. Failing that, you can always curse at your tormentor like a drunken, angry sailor. If the nuisance is standing right in front of you, there is the risk of physical altercation, but for a few seconds, you’ll feel so good.

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Michael Snyder is a print and broadcast journalist who covers pop culture on "Michael Snyder's Culture Blast," via, Roku, and YouTube, and on KPFK/Pacifica Radio’s “David Feldman Show.” You can follow Michael on Twitter: @cultureblaster