Having dropped the habit (although like everyone else, I occasionally slip up), it disturbs me to hear people let loose with profanity without any regard to those around them. This past week, I was reminded just how much it disturbed me. I had an appointment with a friend, and, having arrived a little early, I took the time to sit outside in the sunshine in front of the shopping area where we were to meet.
Sitting there, watching the people walk by, I was shocked to see what was written on one guy’s T-shirt. Right there for anyone and everyone to read were the words “overworked and under (insert the F-word here).” That’s right. That’s what was on the guy’s shirt.
For a mother of a child who having learned to read now reads everything — signs, T-shirts, billboards — all I could think of was sitting there hearing my little boy read that T-shirt out loud to me. That was enough to make my blood boil.
It was only compounded by the guy’s next action. He got on his cell phone and called one of his friends. Standing on a public walk way, with families with small children walking by, he started a conversation with his buddy. If you thought his T-shirt was shocking, his phone call was over the top. Every other word was the “f-bomb.”
It seemed to be his adjective of choice. Actually although it usually doesn’t work this way, it was also his verb, adverb and noun of choice. And he wasn’t talking quietly. He was loud and his conversation was long. I wanted to go over, rip the phone from his hand and do what mothers of old have always threatened — wash his mouth out with soap.
I know, I know. First Amendment Freedom of Speech. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere. What’s appropriate in our homes, is not always appropriate in public. Sometimes, it’s never appropriate in public. And when that happens, then the merchants who are seeking business have to take a stand.
If dance clubs can enforce a dress code on the people who they allow to enter their facilities, then eateries and shopping venues can do the same. The management of the facility I was at should not have allowed that “gentleman,” and I use that term very facetiously, entry into their place of business. Not only was his shirt inappropriate, but every person entering the place of business during that 15 minutes was met with his blue streak of profanity. It was unacceptable.
I’m sure if the man in question spent more time with Mr. Webster and his friend Mr. Thesaurus, he could wear a shirt that would express the same sentiment without offending everyone he met. Not to mention the fact that his telephone conversation would probably have made a lot more sense.
Publisher Bill Bowman had a similar experience recently, and he pointed out the problem to the manager of the establishment, who quietly asked the patron to leave. If people cannot act in an acceptable manner in public, then they can always eat at home, where they are free to express themselves anyway they want.