The shooting at the Florida movie theater has me thinking. The crowd/media is clamoring for the head of the shooter. But I get what happened. I get that you reach a point with people who show disdain for good manners and act out. I get how it escalates.
I have asked people in movies to turn off their phone. I have had some people quickly put the phone away and no more was said. I have others ignore me or talk back. Sometimes I moved. Others, the theater was crowded and moving was a bad option. Sometimes it has escalated but ultimately no one got hurt physically.
I feel old. My shoulders hurt constantly and sometimes I can barely raise my arms above chest height anymore without pain. I look ok. But my back aches, my pants too tight, my butt shakes from left to right. I can’t always meet physical challenges like I used to.
I don’t have a lot of physical fights left in me. But I have a lot of verbal altercations left in me. Temper doesn’t require physical agility or strength. My mental faculties are still such I can verbally express love or disdain. If I tell you to put your phone away, I am asking you to abide by the established rules and social norms. I am not making up my own rules. I am not arbitrarily singling you out for embarrassment and ridicule. But I said something because you are bothering me and impairing my ability to enjoy the theater.
So, you don’t like me telling you what to do, even if I asked nicely. We have an altercation. You think we are having a verbal dispute. I see hostility in your face, thus I am having a potentially dangerous encounter. Do not assume that I am perceiving this the same way you are. For your own safety you should assume nothing and consider all possibilities. I am armed. I react badly when I experience fear. I am unwilling to take a beating from anyone. I will not wait until I have been physically attacked to protect myself. Any sign of aggression on your part may be treated as an indication that you mean to harm me.
Sometimes, I just rent movies and stay home . If I am ill, I stay home so as not to put the public at risk. If I don’t have a baby sitter, I stay home. Maybe I need to wait for an important phone call, I stay home. When I arrive at the movie theater, I turn off the sound on my phone. So does my family. If the phone vibrates, I either ignore it, or go to the lobby to answer it or reply to a text. My phone has rung out loud in places I did not mean it to. I was embarrassed and apologized to those present.
You want to show me that I can’t tell you what to do in the theater. You tell me to fuck off. You stand up and throw popcorn at me. I stand up. You think you are in the right. I say, you might be dead right.