The Practical Gentleman’s Guide to Urban Insolence, no.5

Posted on June 2nd, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

Have you read about the GO Transit employee who threw scalding hot coffee into the face man who cut in front of her getting on the train? Like most of us, she was the victim of urban insolence and had a desire to exact swift retribution. I myself have been the victim of many a line-cutting, and had so vehemently wished I had been wearing a steel-toed boot so that I may wedge it up the offending ass crack. One, swift, clean motion, and I’d bum rush that show, boyeeeee!

And then, counting to ten, I find my special happy place and ask: What would the practical gentleman do?

This is, after all, undesired behaviour that does deserve to be dealt with. While I feel that mild destruction of property is justified when a life has been threatened, in this case we must temper our response. He / she is simply in the state of being a jerk and thus requiring an equal but opposite rejerktion.

The field of study here is broad and varied, but allow me to at least get the ball rolling:

The Bait and Jerk

Simple to do and requiring nothing more than a swift foot, simply tap on the offending party’s shoulder while moving around and in front of them. The nimbler the dance, the greater the effect — you have time to straighten up and posture like you’ve been there a while. Dare you look back and start a conversation to complain about the lines at GO stations? I’ll leave that one up to you.

The Jerk and Switch

A good talking to can sometimes be persuasive, but so often it descends into all sorts of pejorative expressions. There is a wonderful technique I learned, involving minimal conversation, that can be used to let the offending party know just how much of a dullard they are. Incidentally, you can also use it to get you out of having to pay for dinner.

For this you get an unwilling participant to help you out; security are good because they usually don’t have the power to arrest you afterward. But really, anyone can be co-opted. It’s also useful to use someone a bit further away so that they can’t easily hear you. That’s important.

Timing is also important.

First, signal the co-opted friend (perhaps soon to be enemy). Wave at them, get their attention. Once you have them, hold up your hand  to signal them to wait a moment. This gesture is very authoritative. Now turn around and get the attention of the offending party. Be direct: it’s urgent, but only because someone is desperately trying to get their attention back there. Point the co-opter out in the crowd.

Now utter the magic words, “that woman / man there needs to talk to you. Says they have something of yours?” Include a shrug because you’re not sure if you heard it right. Right?

If the confusion that results lasts for a few moments at the right time of day, you can stack a few people in line between you and the offending party before they manage to return. Now you have witnesses!

The Jerk Chicken

Just scream at the top of your lungs. Belt it out; let all the beauty of the universe out in a long, bellowing roar. Screech like you’re having a steak knife driven dramatically through your heart. Ladies will have an advantage over the gentlemen here, I’m afraid. Sorry fellas, we can’t win ’em all.

Now that everyone is frozen stiff with terror and shock, simply step in front of the offending party whilst assuring everyone that it’s simply a misunderstanding. Non-violent resolution to a conflict, see? All sorted, the gentleman / lady simply made a mistake.

And when security start to question you, simply ask if violence was the right answer in that situation. And should you be wasting security’s time with such matters? I mean, wasn’t that solution the most appropriate for the situation?

Hot coffee is, after all, for enjoying and not wasting on someone’s face.

What's on your mind?