A minor catharsis brought on by listening in on the conversations of strangers

Sometimes, if I find myself alone with a free evening, I go to get dinner and a beer at the cafeteria at a local Asian cafeteria. Today being Friday, it was crowded with people drawn in by really cheap but good food. After wandering around checking out the fried squid fritter-ball things, the poke, the pan fried dumplings, the pickled lotus root, the bentos, and the classic ‘Japanese Godmother’s Italian spaghetti” (seriously they have a great logo) I settled on some Korean BBQ.

As I looked for a seat to plunk down my sizzling tray, I ended up sitting close to a couple of girls discussing their night of shopping, discussing their agenda for the evening: “I need to go to Neiman Marcus, I don’t have anything to wear diamond shopping tomorrow.” ‘Wow,’ I think sarcastically to myself, ‘that’s a terrible problem to have.”

Eventually the girls go on to their night of shopping, and are replaces by a girl with two guys who seem already drunk, and make a big show of ‘splurging’ on a $10 tower of bud light. As I devote myself to my tasty kalbi beef and onions, washing it down with my own frosty mug of Asahi, I hear one guy complaining about an event he went to at an art museum, with some girl who did not even sleep with him after. (Although I can’t see why not, obviously he was such a charmer who appreciated her for her mind and heart) His buddy chimed in, “did you at least get wasted?” and the girl who they have paid little attention to chimes in, “I went to the Met once, I saw a film that wasn’t even in English!”  ‘Wow’ I think again, ‘these seem like such interesting and cultured young people, incidentally, I have been meaning to go to that art museum’

But something isn’t sitting right with me as I get up and bus my tray, and the young lady who went to the Met wishes me a good evening. She was more polite than I was. Who was I to think sarcastic things about her? She could be caring for a terminally ill parent, and this trip to Hawaii, and her visit to the Met, could be the only outings shes had in many long stressful years. And that girl whose going diamond shopping, she could have worked her ass off for every luxury she’s got, she could have suffered some tragedy but persevered with a heart of gold, and Karma is rewarding her. She could deserve a new dress and diamonds.

But that’s not right either.

Who am I to judge these people? What am I doing with my silent snark? And possibly more important, what right do I have to fabricate justifications for others’ words and actions? They don’t owe me anything, they are perfectly entitled do what ever they want with their money and time, to hold whatever values that make them feel good. They don’t even have to feel good, its just as acceptable to feel any way they might feel. They don’t owe me anything.

Maybe I am getting old, but sarcasm is starting to seem more and more immature and pointless.

I catch myself getting sarcastic in my own head sometimes, silently judging whats going on around me. Today my inner snark wasn’t all that witty, but I can be witty on occasion, have no doubt. But really, whats the point, if I can be so judgemental, anyone else can be shallow, or entitled, or spoiled….. I actually think being judgmental is worse.

Except for the guy who was pissed that a girl didn’t have sex with him, that is worse.

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