There are many things in this world that piss me off, but near the top of the list has to be rudeness. I know this statement is not profound, nor does it add anything new to the world discourse, but it does not make it any less true. Rudeness is a stain on the Earth, and should be combated at every turn.
And one example of rudeness (there are many forms of it, after all) is entering a room and interrupting a conversation in progress. This happened to me just a little while ago. I was in the kitchen having brunch with some of the people who live in my building–they also happen to be my friends–and we were talking about how we had spent our weekends. I was in the middle of a sentence when this man, whom I have never met before, walks in, and extends his hand in an effort to introduce himself.
Ok, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It is considered polite behavior to introduce one’s self, so I don’t really have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that after he introduced himself to me, he took over the conversation and started speaking French to the people I was eating with and talking to. Now, one of those people is French, and the other two speak some French, and of course I do not speak any French, so not only did he interrupt me and hijack the conversation, he did it in a language I do not speak so I could not even participate.
I was totally left out of the conversation, and then I exhibited rude behavior of my own: I left the kitchen without saying anything. I realize this was not the best thing to do, and that I could be considered a hypocrite for complaining about rude behavior, and then taking rude actions myself. And maybe I am being hypocritical, but I do not really care. I was not the first one who was rude, and there was no reason for me to stick around if they were going to talk in a language that I can not communicate in.
This whole thing is really unimportant and I am not going to lose sleep over it, but I do find it frustrating that people think this kind of behavior is acceptable. And this is not the only instance something like this has happened. One of the folks I was having lunch today is Spanish. Sometimes she and I meet in the kitchen for tea or coffee or dinner. And during some of those times a Spanish man, who lives across the hall from me and teaches at the University, comes to the kitchen to speak his native tongue with the Spanish girl. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but, like the Frenchman of earlier today, he will interrupt the conversation she and I are having without a thought. And what’s worse is this man does speak English–I know because I have spoken English with him–but he pretends not to and effectively cuts me out of the conversation. I mean, it is bad enough that I am surrounded by people (Czechs) that I can’t talk to because we don’t speak the same language, but it is somehow worse to be cut out/ignored by people who can speak English (though it may not be their native tongue) but choose not to, for whatever reason.
Oh well, I just thought I would rant and get this out rather than hold inside where it could turn into something larger and nastier than it needs to be.