Sudden outbursts of rage have always existed in society and I know that. But, it just seems that I am hearing more and more about this. Maybe it is that it is reported more due to the News literally being 24/7 or is it that people are just in a constant state of frustration and anxiety due to this insane world we live in now. The most recent outbursts have occurred on airplanes due to people being inconsiderate by sitting down and immediately reclining their seats onto someone’s knees or people putting a device preventing them from reclining at all. When I rode the NJ Transit bus from New Jersey to Manhattan every morning, this would happen every so often. I was annoyed but I simply quietly asked the person in the seat in front of me if they could please just move the seat up a little bit because it was hitting my knees. Most of the time they just moved it up and that was the end of the story; incident averted. Conversely, I would do the same if I were the person reclining the seat (although I never put it back where it would hit someone’s knees). But, now some enterprising individual has invented a device that attaches to the seat in front, thus preventing the seat from reclining at all. That is ridiculous because everybody who buys a plane ticket has a right to be comfortable and I think most people are polite enough not to slam the seat back. But, I was not surprised when I heard that a fight broke out severe enough to divert the plane the other day. Then recently another one was reported as well. At first I thought that this was a gross overreaction to something that could’ve been fixed diplomatically but I think the cause is just RAGE; that this was “the last straw.” We live in a society where we often feel like victims of some sort. Most of the time we have no control of situations concerning bureaucracies such as the Healthcare Marketplace, Insurance companies, or other large entities where they call the shots. An example of this is with my own Medical insurance which was inadvertently cancelled last week. Trying to reinstate this has been a monumental chore, having endured endless arguments over the phone and no matter how much cajoling, threatening, crying or whatever I do, nobody can expedite the process without the required red tape. Years ago the famous scene in Network where Peter Finch yells out of an office window, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” still resonates with most people. In the movie, when everybody opened the windows and started yelling out the same thing, I wanted to scream, “Right on.” Every day the average person is bombarded with life’s little indignities, and are often forced to just accept the injustice of it all. But I do think that most people are like “sponges” and can only absorb just so much before the inevitable slow leakage occurs. The media only covers the horrific acts of violence such as mass killings that are often the result of years of “just taking it”, as with bullying in school. But what gets overlooked are the average Joe or Jane, whose years of “just taking it” are manifested in high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and mental health issues. Most people have an edit button that prevents them from perpetrating violence (and there are degrees) but some don’t. How many times have we heard people being interviewed after a hostage or mass shooting situation where they say, “I don’t understand it; he was such a nice person. I never even expected this.” The thing is you don’t know what is boiling under a person’s skin. I think that with all the recent insanity in the world (beheadings, ISIS, plane shootings in the sky, HAMAS) and all the little indignities we face in our own lives, it is not unreasonable to expect to recline your seat in a plane and enjoy the solitude away from LIFE for a while. So when an inconsiderate passenger adds yet another measure of indignity to something that should have been pleasurable, we just explode and in our heads we simply say, “Enough is enough. I don’t have control of the world, or my health insurance, or my job, or much else, but I sure as hell have control of whether or not I can recline my seat.” So, I cannot blame the woman who went ballistic at the inconsiderate oaf who decided that he was more important than she was and took that one little pleasure that day away from her.
Help, I am suffering from a hopeless addiction. It is not cocaine, or crack, or marijuana, or booze–no it is Starbucks. It is not even the coffee, per se, because I could easily make lattes at home but it is the atmosphere. Each store has a different feel to it, and unfortunately I know them all. The one near I-20 is large and roomy, but there are not that many areas to connect to the internet and sometimes the Wi Fi is down. The one near Evans is often too crowded to even find a seat. There are numerous stores in other stores (crappy atmosphere), etc. But I have found a real “home” at the Starbucks on Wrightsboro Road, 5 minutes from my house, where I can almost always find a place to hook up my laptop and either write or work on my photos. When I was working full time, my Starbucks visits were limited to a couple of times a week, but now that I am officially “retired” I find myself there every day. My creativity is boosted because there are no distractions, the music is great, the baristas know my drink and I feel like I am in a Cheers episode where everybody (actually only one barista does) knows my name. I guess I can substitute “knows my name” to “knows my drink.” Just like an addiction, I feel strange (like something is missing) when I don’t drop in for at least a little while. The biggest problem is that I am spending too much money–even though I have switched from lattes to iced Americanos, it still adds up. And, just like an addiction, I get a sense of “ease and comfort” when I walk in. I want to tell people to send me Starbucks gift cards rather than flowers or gifts on my birthday or Mother’s Day. What is the answer and should I try to break this addiction? Should I go to “Starbucks Rehab” and attend meetings, with total abstinence? Or should I just practice acceptance and just give in to an entity beyond my control.