In the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of the ugliness of human nature, witnessing examples of selfishness, thoughtlessness and an utter lack of moral compass on what seems like a daily basis. Fortunately, I have also had occasion to witness the rarer examples of goodness and generosity displayed by some; just enough to prevent me from becoming totally cynical, distrustful and misanthropic.
The other day, I accrued yet another example of the kind of petty immoral behavior that makes me crazy. My boyfriend and I had decided to go to the Grand Asia Market for lunch, not anticipating just how many others would have the same notion on a Saturday afternoon. We waited in the lengthy line to place our order and, after paying, began to scout the small seating area for a table to open up. My food was ready fairly quickly but we still had not found a table. I stood there, food in hand, quite obviously looking for an available seat along with, I might add, a few other people. Then I noticed that a man seated alone at a two person table had finished eating and was moving to clean up his table. Eureka! I thought and moved close to claim the soon to be empty table, but just far enough to respect somewhat the man's personal space. The man finished throwing his leftovers away and returned to the table to wipe up some drips of soup. Then he sat down. And just sat there. He sat at the table, alone, with no more food to eat, not doing anything, with his hands in his lap, just sitting. He just sat. Meanwhile, Lee's food came up so that we were both standing awkwardly, waiting. Another couple that had not been waiting as long managed to swoop in and take a table across the room because they had not been foolishly hovering over the mysterious sitting man. Finally, the woman right next to sitting-ass-man finished eating, cleaned up, and smiled and nodded at us as we took over the newly available table. For the record, the man sat occupying that little table for another 15 or so minutes, mostly keeping his hands in his lap. Occasionally, he would take the little napkin that still rested on the table and move in a circle as if he were wiping something. That is all he did.
I decided that there was only one circumstance I could conceive of that would justify the man's actions and make him undeserving of the death-by-chopstick-through-eye that I was vividly envisioning for him: if his wife and daughter had been kidnapped and the kidnappers had demanded that he meet them at that specific table at a specified time with the ransom money or else they would kill his family slowly and painfully, after first prolongedly raping them... in that case, then perhaps I could forgive him for the way he hogged that table. But as the smugly contented look on his face seemed to suggest no such turmoil, I think instead that he was merely a petty, evil bastard who deserved a chopstick through the eye.
I realize that there are far greater crimes than hogging a table in a restaurant while others are waiting. But it is the pointlessness, the absolute lack of comprehensible motive, that bewilders and disgusts me. That man so clearly had no need for that table. He wasn't doing anything. He wasn't using the surface in front of him. If he needed to sit, he could have pulled his chair off to the side and made the table and its other chair available. It's not that I expect people to sacrifice what they themselves need in order to help others, although that's admirable. But what is the motive to keep something you don't need when the need of others is so obvious, so blatant, when the right of others is so evident? I think it's evil. It's a small evil, but evil nonetheless. And it's all around us.