PSA: Public Spaces Don’t Always Have To Accommodate Your Personal Needs
There are a few experiences in life that the general public share a common dislike for: Airport delays, having to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to handle ANYTHING, meetings that should have been e-mails and jury goddamn duty. Most of us go from day to day gritting our teeth through the tedious inconveniences in life because we know that at some point we’ll get to be in the creature comforts of our own spaces, with people we like and know, with the AC at just the right temperature and our recliners adjusted at just the perfect angle. So when it comes to being out among the general public, I try to prepare myself that in situations like the ones I mentioned, there will always be one obnoxious person who will use the opportunity to complain about the obvious, thus making the situation even worse.
You’ve seen them: It’s the lady sitting in jury duty who is asking for lunch when not even an hour has passed and yelling throughout the chambers, “I got thangs ta do!” It’s the guy in the airport when the flight is fifteen minutes late complaining, “I’ll never use Southwest again!” It’s the person at the DMV who’s mad at the clerk because they don’t have their paperwork together and waited to the last possible second to renew their license, but somehow it’s everyone else’s fault. Trust and believe me when I say, I get that you never know what people are going through. The man complaining about the late flight may be timing it with the last train to see his granddaughter in the city he’s landing in. Now because of Southwest, he may not get to see her until after her tour of duty. But what people need to realize is that while they are doing all of that hoopin’ and hollerin’ in public spaces, the rest of us have problems too and you’re not helping by spreading your miserable ass attitude like the common cold.
Another thing people have to realize is that public spaces won’t always accommodate you personally. If you’re 6’2” on an airline and paying for an economy seat, you have no one else to blame for your Charlie Horse but yourself. We all don’t get to be comfortable all the damn time and that means sometimes you’ll have to sit on a city bus that smells like weed and armpit juice and just take it on the chin and just shut up about the stench on your ten minute ride.
You notice just how much the “customer is always right mentality” has gone to people’s heads particularly when you work in retail or the service profession. As a sexual health specialist during the day, I help people find clinics where they can get birth control, STI testing, prenatal care and other needs regardless of their insurance status. But it never fails that regularly on Friday afternoons at 1:00 pm someone will call wanting to be seen immediately because they think they have a yeast infection or some other irritating but not emergent health concern. Clinics typically close earlier on Friday, you’re uninsured, you waited all week to decide to do something about your irritated vagina and now you want me to pull some sort of David Blaine move to find you care and also have an attitude with me while you make your demands. From myself to all of the consumers out there who truly believe the world revolves around your convenience, I’m here to tell you you’re sadly mistaken. And while we’re at it, if I did want to go above and beyond to try and meet your needs, you just lost your chance at any of that by thinking cursing at me or insulting me will help that happen.
However, I still maintain what I recently wrote about personal space. In society we all have rights and responsibilities when it comes to respecting one another’s spaces and experiences. It’s why I’ll always take my tantruming toddler out of the Target if I can help it because I get it: People want to shop for chevron throw pillows in peace. But with that, the next time I spot a mom who has one hanging from her breast and one screaming at her ankle and all she wants to do is get some TIDE pods, I’m not going to fall apart and complain to management like I’m scarred for life. Because it’s not that deep. Lastly, as much as you may hate the airport industry or any other entity tasked with serving the public on a day-to-day basis, Tameka the gate agent that just announced your flight to Phoenix is delayed is probably not the person you should be cussing out about that issue. Also, Tameka is trying to pay her way through school, is taking care of her terminally ill father and has been working since last night. In other words, we all have problems and running around complaining about your own isn’t helping any of us.
Don’t get me wrong, folks shouldn’t be getting assaulted at TSA, riders should realize the whole subway may not want to partake in your smoke session, and the DMV probably does need to get its ish together most days. But unless you’ve got a bankroll where you can pay for to avoid the annoying situations in life we all encounter every day, you’re just going to have to shut your lips, Twitter rant like the rest of us and remind yourself this too shall pass.
Toya Sharee is a Health Resource Specialist who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.