Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bitter White Guy Performance Art

Two incidents. I was only a witness. But pretty impressive redneckery.

Incident the First:

In the Hardees across the street the "Inn at Virginia Tech," where I stayed when I gave my talk at the B-school. (I stayed at the Inn, not the Hardees). Asian kid, reading THE ECONOMIST. Aryan frat boy looking kid, sitting at same table, reading USA TODAY. It's 6:45 am. White kid: "You damned Asians! You are just exploiting us!"

Asian kid: (Stares, amazed. Me, too).

White kid: "Yeah, it says here that the fall of the U.S. dollar has caused such an increase in exports that there aren't enough containers in the U.S. They are piling up overseas."

Asian kid: (Patiently, and quite sensibly) "Well, but the U.S. still has a huge trade deficit with most countries in manufactured goods. It may be true that imports are up, but the NET trade pattern is still in deficit."

White kid: (Throws USA TODAY at Asian kid) "You just hate America. You people want all those containers gone so you can bankrupt American businesses."

Asian kid: "'You people'? I'm from Richmond."

White kid: "Well, let's go to the car. I'm not going to explain to you what an idiot you are in front of all these people. And I'm sure you don't want to walk."

Incident the Second:

Philadelphia airport, about 7 pm. Two 20-ish kids walk up to the gate, two gates down from mine. I was sitting reading the paper, waiting for my flight.

One kid sees the door is closed. "Open that door! OPEN THAT DOOR!" Yelling loudly, and in quite a threatening way.

30-ish black woman behind the counter, no other airline personnel around. She tells the kid that in order to leave on time, they have to close the door five minutes before departure for checks. Plus, she had announced three times that this was the "final boarding call." (It's true, she had, I heard it).

The kid yells, "I didn't hear you. I was right here! You have to OPEN THAT DOOR RIGHT NOW! OPEN IT. I MEAN IT."

Woman: "Sir, I'll have to call security if you don't back off. I can't open the door, the flight is leaving."

Kid: "I see it! It's right there! It hasn't left. Open the door. I'm TELLING YOU, OPEN THE DOOR!"

The woman told the kid, without getting angry or raising her voice, that there two truths he was going to have to accept. First, the flight was gone and she would have to rebook him. Second, if he didn't stop yelling and threatening her, she was going to call security.

Kid: "I'm just going to stand right here and block the gate. You can't do this to me."

(Stands against the desk, arms around machine for checking boarding passes.)

Woman picks up phone, makes call in low voice.

Three minutes later, three men in uniform show up. One is about Angus's size, and is clearly in charge. One is about 5'10", and extremely solidly built. And the other....I swear he was 6'10", and 375 pounds. He looked like a human mountain, on the move. The two smaller guys get on both sides of the protesting kid, and speak to him in low tones. Kid decides to make a break for it, and turns around and runs his face smack in the giant guy's chest. Kid backs off, holding his forehead and gaping at giant.

For some reason it reminded me of the line in "Princess Bride," where the Billy Crystal character threatens to call the "goon squad." And Andre the Giant says, "I'm on the goon squad." And Crystal says, "GAH! You ARE the goon squad." This guy was a one man goon squad.

Anyway, handcuffs for the loudmouth kid. Now, I have some sympathy for the "I'm here before scheduled departure time" argument. But I also have sympathy with the woman gate agent. She bent over backwards NOT to call security. And then when security came it was justice swift and sure. I can't imagine what the kid thought would happen. That is NOT going to end well.

I think both incidents were some of the people Obama may have been talking about, idiotic bitter white guys.


Fred said...

These incidents are expressions of a pathological narcissism and an overwhekming sense of entitlement.

I've known rednecks. These are no rednecks. These are immature and undisciplined children in adult bodies.

Norman said...

Priceless. Although I'm pretty sure it was the brute squad.

Anonymous said...


If you accept Obama's premise of a "typical white person," do you believe in the existence of a "typical black person"? Or, is that called racism?

Anonymous said...

Its the Brute squad.

br said...

I definitely believe in the existence of a 'typical black person'. Among other traits, he's a female with dark skin, black hair, and brown eyes.

Michael said...

Okay, so *I* belong on the "Idiot Squad." Brute squad it is.

And sure, there are "typical" people of all identifiable groups. It is the statistical central tendency of that group. Having there be a central tendency is what makes classifying that group AS a group possible.

But, we really can't draw any inferences about the group from the supposed features of its typical member. Most of us are members of many groups, and we also have personal idiosyncracies.

So, yes in the aggregate, but that yes tells us little about any one person.

Justin M Ross said...

Scary thought: Since the kid was reading a newspaper, it makes him an above average voter.

Dirty Davey said...

The second case presents a good argument to check luggage.

If you can't make it on the plane, they have to take your luggage off--because of the theory that a terrorist with a sense of self-preservation might put a bomb in luggage, check it, and then not get on the plane.

So if "Joe" has checked a bag, and the bag is on the plane and Joe is not, everyone at the gate will be VERY eager to GET JOE ON THE PLANE--five minutes before scheduled takeoff or not--because the procedure to find and remove Joe's luggage is even more complicated and time-consuming than the procedure to re-open the door and chase Joe onto the plane.

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