NPR has this thing called "driveway moments," which is how they describe stories that are so interesting you sit in your driveway because you can't miss the end of the story. Today I had an "anti-driveway moment." Which is my new term for a story so annoying I had to strifle the urge to yank my car stereo out of the dash and throw it out the window.
The story was about a couple who travel around, eating in fine restaurants. Wherever they go, they ask the person at the next table for a bite of their food. If the person refuses, the couple keep hassling the poor soul until they cave in. They said that in five years they've only encountered one person who couldn't be pressured into giving up a bite of food off their plate eventually.
Wow, you might be thinking, what assholes! I'm glad I've never been seated next to them. At least that's what I thought. But you'd be wrong, as NPR helpfully explained. They aren't jerks with a huge sense of entitlement and no sense of boundaries. No, they're "conducting a social experiment" about "people's willingness to share post 9/11."
All this experiment really shows is most people's unwillingness to make a scene when confronted with rudeness. Especially when the rudeness is delivered pleasantly. And most especially when the rudeness takes a novel form that one hasn't ever had to deal with before. I think rather than being delighted by the opportunity to share with new people, the victims of this experiment are probably too taken aback to resist, or to continue resisting under continued pressure.
I can't even describe how much this story annoyed me. It wasn't just the assholes who steal food from every stranger unlucky enough to sit next to them in a restaurant. Oh excuse me, the "social experimenters." It was the smug proclamations about how we've lost the skill to communicate, and how they are magnanimously teaching us this skill. Because barging in on the meals of strangers and bullying them to give you their food, that's a much better way to improve the world after 9/11 than to, you know, help someone or give something. Or something.
It didn't help that I heard this story just a minute or two after nearly missing my exit because I was cut off by some ass in an SUV with a "PRAYIN 4U" license plate. (To which I could only say, "I'm prayin' to Satan 4U!" and too bad they couldn't hear me.) I hope someday the "social experiment" people sit next to me in a restaurant, so I can show them post 9/11 communication they won't forget.