I've whinged at some length about the general impatience of people here before and, more specifically, of the strange behaviour of folk on the buses. I shall now add the refinement to my thesis that the little old ladies, at least en masse, take the gold for arsiness (with a special commendation for the Bus Etiquette category). They beat out teenagers, they beat out schoolchildren on Coca Cola. They don't quite beat out the local mentally disturbed individuals, but they are in a league of their own.
So what do they do, these little old ladies? All kinds of minor crimes against humanity are committed. They tut and tsk at people with prams. They yell conversations to their friends. They wear woollen coats which reek after they've been rained on. They sit on you. They refuse to get up for people who are clearly much more feeble than they are. They let their shopping bags swing into your head. They push past with an attitude and stony-sharp elbows akimbo. They... well, some of them actually behave, but a lot are fully capable of behaving more like buggers than most teenies. Thank God that they don't seem to be on the bus after pub time, or I suspect that the bus aisles would run red...
So, here is my syllogism of Miscreance Among the Senescent:
- There is an inherent belief among such folk that being 70+ in itself is grounds for great respect and esteem.
- There is a general belief that, despite the above-mentioned premise being inalienable, most people under... ooh... 60 are incapable of behaving in accordance with this.
- They are entitled to behave as they wish, especially with regard to people who, as far as they are concerned, will not behave decently towards them nor yet do so in their presence.
So, what brought this on? Well, I had to travel in on such a bus today. I should state that I am Ms. Manners in many regards, not because I am naturlly polite or amiable, but because I was brought up that way. Many is the time that I have been stuck holding a door as people pour in from behind me (if someone is behind me, even if they were Geoff Capes, common courtsey dictates that one holds the frigging door open). I help people off the bus with prams (tsk! tut!). I tend to stand aside for people if I know that thy want past me. I say please and thank you. I was even trained to go up the lefthand side of staircases (unless the righthand side is specified). I give up my bus seat to the elderly (except when one of them is sat on me, in which case I can't really). I generally have a lot of time and sympathy for older people.
So, the usual zoo of elderly German women was going on around me when it came to be the time for my stop. One pair of women were standing in the bus exit and looked as if they wanted to get off as people form behind them (elderly German women, in the main) tutted and shoved their way past. I stood to one side. Several seconds into this process I was beset by 3 elderly German women and their elbows, who complained loudly that they wanted to get off the bus and I was in their way. I turned and explained, firmly yet politely, even as I was being called all manner of names, that I was actually (shock! horror!) waiting for someone else to get off first. I added, "Ich habe Charakter!" (meaning that I actually have manners and give a monkeys about other people enough not to trample them underfoot nor yet assail them with my elbows). At this point, it turned out that said ladies in the exit weren't actually alighting they were just... tooling around in the exit. They moved a step to the side and my canine obedience training meant that I did too, in time to let the 3 old bags push past, glaring at me and uttering well-I-nevers. Then I could get off.
Then came the icing on the cake. The two old dears who had been tooling around in the exit turned to me and said, "Sie brauchen nicht zu schimpfen!" which could equally mean you or they don't need to get arsy. Um. This bears interpretation. Bueller?
1. The best case scenario. Only people who want to sell me something normally call me Sie, as in the polite form of you. Perhaps, therefore, they were referring to the old biddies who had been railing at me. Yeah, right.
2. They were demonstrating their superior grasp of the arts of politeness by calling me Sie and considered what I had said to be bang out of order for whatever reason (although I was calm and fairly cool).
3. They thought that I had been addressing them and that what I had said was a complaint directed at them.
4. I had stumbled upon a secret conspiracy/ a piece of interactive performance art. Or they wish to encourge more people to walk/bike/drive/Nordic Ski into town of a morning.
Would it be too extreme to request a cull? Truly?