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Geoff and Simon

March 19, 2013

What is rude, and how do we know when people are being rude to us? And how come those individuals who fall within the extremes of the rudeness spectrum are seldom if ever described as rude? I don’t know, I have no idea, that’s why I’m writing this in an attempt to come to some kind of conclusion.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at a couple of case studies.

Meet Geoff, he’s 64, from Yorkshire. Geoff prides himself on calling a spade a spade and always speaking as he finds. He has a long suffering wife, let’s call her Rita. She is 63, bakes cakes and is indulgently kind to her husband of too many years.

Now let’s look at Simon. Simon is single, 32 and works in an uninspiring roll in a recruitment company. Simon is painfully shy and is not very good at crowds, groups or throngs.

Geoff is described by most people as a no-nonsense character who speaks his mind. A man who doesn’t suffer fools, and who takes pride in waltzing through life with a loud voice and a no-nonsense attitude towards everyone he meets. In my opinion, Geoff is simply rude. Let’s not dress it up because he has a harsh regional accent, because his tongue dares To go where angels fear to fly, let alone tread. Geoff is the kind of person I avoid in order to prevent phrases like, “Geoff, what makes you think you can say that..?” or “Geoff, you know, just talking loud and insulting people doesn’t mean you’re a popular local figure, it means people are, for whatever reason, scared of insulting you lest you turn your acidic tongue in their direction!”

Now Simon. Bless him, look at him standing in the corner looking all lost an pathetic, unable to string a sentence together or say “hello” loud enough. Simon who can barely make eye contact let alone conversation. Most people think he’s sweet, thinks it’s a shame he’s so shy. But I think Simon is rude, I think him a dick! For Simon uses this ”social illness” as a suit of armour. It makes him lazy, unwilling to engage, unable to converse. Simon, who has a pathetically weak, moist handshake and can barely bring himself to answer a direct question, is, in my humble opinion just as rude as Geoff, who is, in our imaginary party, holding court and making rude comments about Lisa’s dancing, whilst Simon is still clutching a shandy and munching half-heartedly on a sausage roll, whilst daydreaming about the latest internet-based fantasy roll-playing game he is involved in. Behind those vacant eyes he is pondering, considering what to do with Umloc the troll’s in growing toenail, and what spell Blazer the Besotted will cast in order to rid the keep of the hideous army of goblins lead by Gordon the Green.

The point I am making is that most people think the two extremes as outlined above are not at all rude. In fact, most people go out of their way to make outrageous excuses for their behaviour. This is because most of us are afraid of rocking the boat, upsetting the applecart, offending. This is because, at least unconsciously, we recognise that in order to get to the extreme end of the rude scale there has to be a problem. Simon is probably a tad artistic and Geoff is just, well, nasty. So is this a cunning self-defence mechanism? Or are we still making excuses? The funny thing is, most people are very quick to comment on border-line rudeness. On people who are maybe a little bit rude because they neglected to send a thank you letter within an unspecified time period, or put their elbows on the table, thus committing some ridiculous middle-class social fopar. But the same people who are all too keen to criticise still merrily smile and say, “Bless Simon, he does try.” Or, “That Geoff’s such a character!”

Who gauges rudeness? Who is the arbiter and the judge? Apteral, as society becomes more and more casual, surely people will become more tolerant in differences of behaviour. But, perhaps it is because society is changing people cling on to seemingly outmoded notions of what is and isn’t acceptable ways of conducting oneself.

Whatever the reason, I still find it amusing when people criticise, bang on and chunter about seemingly inconsequential behavioural patterns and take absolutely no notice of the Geoffs and Simons of this world.

So what are we to do? Wellm that’s up to the individual. All I would beg is consistency; be as hacked off with Simon as Geoff, as the checkout girl who doesn’t say thank you or please. For surely she is on the slippery slope and in twenty years she will be as hard work as anyone you know.

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From → Culture, Society

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