A Question of Manners

The following are opinions garnered from a 2-week guided tour in Russia, half of which was on a cruise ship which plied the waters between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was an enjoyable trip and one which we would repeat. Given a new understanding of group dynamics, however, we would be better prepared to deal with certain behaviors which affect the group as a whole.
First off, let me say that old people are pushy. Let it be understood from the outset that this is not the start of some anti-senior diatribe; just several years shy of 70, I could be considered a senior myself. With that understanding, let me reiterate – old people are pushy. Whether they are so because they believe they are entitled to special treatment or because advancing age just causes people to become more self absorbed, selfish if you will, is an opinion I will leave up to you, the reader.
It is a condition which is most apparent in large gatherings of seniors; a cruise ship for example. The close quarters for an extended period seems to bring out the worst in people. Ordinary rules of civility fly out the window as people decide they no longer need to queue up, for example; seeing their goal, they will walk right over you to get there. Increasingly vocal, a stalled line elicits acrid criticism; even if the lines leads to nowhere.
It is not the way we were raised, this generation that now pushes to the fore. We were raised to give way to others; to keep silent unless spoken to; to always be polite. One has to wonder at this rebellion against common manners; this sudden egocentrism. As I noted, this impetus to rudeness seems most apparent when seniors are in groups. It is then that a herd mentality takes over, especially if there is a possibility of getting cut out of the herd. Like cattle that are spooked, stampede is an ever present danger. Those who do get separated are prone to rogue behavior. Beware, this is the senior at his or her most dangerous.
Others within my hearing also commented on this rude behavior. One called them the “gray hairs”, ignoring the fact that ours was almost as gray, and went on to comment that these people were generally rude all of their lives. A sad commentary on human behavior.
A corollary to being rude is, on the part of some, an overwhelming desire to control; that urge to follow an inner voice which drives them to tell others what to do. Again, because of our upbringing, we tend, at first, to comply to one degree or another. Our unthinking compliance just urges the controller to new heights and, occasionally, we find ourselves dominated. It is then that we begin to resist, to push back, and we become, in the eyes of the controller, disobedient children. Interestingly, this causes the controller to become even more insistent. If this fails, they pout. It is pout that one must be wary of.
Pouters want to get even; to re-establish control. It is an interesting phenomenon to watch. They tend to talk at every opportunity, often loudly. They ask questions frequently, even when the answer is obvious. Such questions are not for information but are simply a way of marking territory. This allusion should not be lost on the reader. It also is not unusual to see two, sometimes three, individuals share control. These support each other by talking loudly with one another, sharing arcane anecdotes and inside jokes, and we, the plebs, can only be impressed. The self-supporting questions also are meant to impress the rest of us with their vast comprehension of innumerable subjects. It takes determination to beat back assaults of this nature, and most of us are too polite. In this regard, Garrison Keillor describes us, the naturally shy, best.
Most of us just tune them out, withdrawing to an inner Eden which often imagines some impossible violence. You cannot actually reach down someone’s throat, grab their ass and pull then inside out, but the mental image is extremely satisfying nonetheless. However, it is probably best, at such moments to imagine some pastoral idyll or, if you absolutely must, the occasional sex fantasy. I leave the choice up to you. But beware, as you withdraw, that you don’t miss information you might actually need. It does no good to awaken from your reverie to find yourself on a darkened bus or in an empty terminal. There is cold comfort in realizing that the controller was at the front of the line (old people are pushy, remember) and is safely where he, or she, is supposed to be.