The other day I was thinking about a monthly post that uses a deliberate malaprop trope in the title by switching “rant” for rent, as in, “The Rant is Due”. It would be the last Thursday of the month or something equally precious. But then it occurred to me that the interweebs have become a very shouty place. It is jam packed with righteous indignation, conspiracies and theories based on what your doctor doesn’t want you to know. Oh, and cats. Lots of cats.
It is quite popular to bang on about the minor annoyances of life and rage at what used to be considered inconvenient. If someone enters the 10 items or less line with 16 items or even a loaded cart, is it the end of the world? It isn’t even a unique experience: I mean, really, we’ve all been there. Almost anyone who is honest will admit to being guilty, occasionally, of creative grouping to justify sliding into the express line. ‘They’re all cans of soup so that’s just one thing, right?’
There have been times I’ve been in a rush. Yes, okay, I spend a lot of my time in a rush because it takes 25 minutes to get there so I need to leave around 10:05. It’s just 9:30 so there’s lots of time to get ready; I can take a quick peek at Facebo-oh crap, was that the 10:00 o’clock time signal? Now I’m brushing my teeth and looking for pants.
Of course when I am in a hurry (i.e. late) and still have to stop at the drug store on the way, the person in line ahead of me will be discussing their life story with the only cashier in the world and consulting on the merits of one scratch ticket over another. And then she remembers why she’s there: “can I return this here? No, the receipt is in my other coat…of course I’ve used it a few times, how could I tell if I liked it if I didn’t actually try it a few times…Can I speak to the manager…
The point here is that person didn’t make me late. They may be burning up my time and that is inconvenient, even inconsiderate, but it does not make them responsible for my poor time management skills. Not even if I’d left home with plenty of time to spare and ended up behind that person and then encountered road construction and failed to factor in the illusory correlation that my van causes every light to turn red as I approach it. My being late isn’t anyone’s fault, sometimes not even mine.
Ranting won’t change it and, contrary to popular belief, it won’t make me feel better. All ranting does is create the illusion I am justified in resenting, even disliking, complete strangers who are simply trying to get through their own day. It solves nothing and creates an adversarial atmosphere where we justify our own actions and condemn everyone else’s.
The kind of atmosphere where the appropriate response to being cut off in traffic is the liberal application of a 3 iron at the next light.
The rant is not due. Compassion, understanding and acceptance are.