Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Lost Art of the Asskicking

This morning, as dawn broke on the city, I found myself being yelled at by an angry man in the McDonald's parking lot at Washington, Patapsco, and Hammonds Ferry Rd. He seemed to be upset at the fact that he wanted money "for the bus" and I wasn't giving him any. Since this is the second time in 6 months that I've had one of these conversations with a perfect stranger, it gave me cause to reflect on the lack of civility in the Baltimore area.

For certain, in the seven years that I lived in the Midwest, I never once had a similar exchange with a stranger. In fact, Midwesterners and Southerners are known for their cordiality. Some attribute this to religious influence or just plain "folksiness", but I know better. Midwestern social interactions are influenced by an invisible, yet omnipresent force, known as the Asskicking. Every Midwesterner knows that if their behavior exceeds some proscribed limit, an Asskicking is likely to be administered. It's like having Ms. Manners consult on every social exchange, except that she's got a 8' length of chain out in her pickup. While this might be considered unrefined or crass, it is certainly effective.This line of thought lead me to consider how this Midwestern tradition could improve matters in Baltimore.

1. Drug addicts would be much more polite. If the possibility of getting worked over by a 7-iron entered my morning friend's thinking, he wouldn't have demanded money, but would have asked instead. (And he might have gotten some.)

2. Keith Mills would still have a career. The police report said that he'd been stealing from an elderly cancer patient for over a year. She had suspected it for most of this time. In the Midwest, after the second theft, Mr. Mills would have made entry and been greeted by 3-5, perhaps overall clad, relatives who would have convinced him of the error in his ways. There would have been no felony arrests or scandalous stories, only an emergency room visit.

3. Aggressive driving would decrease. If tailgating was rewarded with Asskicking, it would rarely happen. I also imagine that the Asskicking might be a useful technique for reacquainting Baltimore drivers with their turn signals. Also, I think that every Hummer purchase should come with a complementary Asskicking.

4. Violence towards women could be reduced. When a wifebeater knows that his wife's brothers and father are apt to dispense some "family counseling," they don't hit. It's a matter of communicating the inappropriate nature of their behavior in a language in which they are fluent.

4. People would be more patient. Last week, I was in the 10 items or less lane at Target. The guy in front of me had 12 items. It was close enough for me, but not the assclown behind me who started bitching at him. When the assclown received no sympathy from me, he called someone on his cell phone and started whining to them. If the prospect of requiring the services of a proctologist to finish his conversation was looming, I doubt he would have opened his mouth.

5. The rates of contractors and auto mechanics would be reduced. I've had Maryland auto mechanics attempt to charge me outrageous rates for unnecessary work. Recently, a Midas employee wanted $700 for $100 worth of work. If I was allowed to make up the difference with $600 worth of Asskicking (at $50/hour/ass kicked), I'd bet he would have gotten the price right the first time.

6. Civility in cyberspace would increase. There would be less snarkiness and probably fewer blogs where people routinely refer to others as assclowns.

These are just a few of the benefits that we could be enjoying by implementing this rustic solution. I know that I'm going start as soon as possible and I urge you to do the same. Together, with diligence we can change our city's image. I know my goal will have been realized, when a visitor, from Topeka, can tell his wife, "You know, Lucinda, these Baltimore folks are real nice. At least, when they aren't kicking my ass. It almost makes me homesick."


At 1:32 AM, Blogger elcapitanhink said...

Apt, apt. Another pertinent insight that'll have me thinking for awhile.

Though I must confess, I was equally intrigued for the 20 seconds or so that I thought it was The Lost Art of Asslicking, so my opinion might be tainted. Ahem. So to speak.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

give me a break. if you've only experienced this twice in the last 6 months you should consider yourself lucky. this happens at least 3 times a week to me and that is a really good week. as a matter of fact i have to deal with the beggers every single day on my drive to and home from work and have heard every excuse in the book abotu why they need my money

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Neckbone said...

I've heard that Midwesterners are really friendly. I figured it had soemthing to do with the precarious balance of the abject boredom- if one person were uncivil it would immediately escalate into a ten-state brawl. Your theory is better.

I've got to tell you, though- people in Maryland are one hell of a lot nicer than they are in points north. That was the first thing I noticed when I moved here from Connecticut.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Cham said...

Actually, that corner has improved. When I worked down there that neighborhood was inhabited by prostitutes with open sores all over their body and folks with shopping carts filled with stolen scrap metal hauling ass to the recycler on Washington Blvd.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger tfg said...

josh-This would have been a much better post your way. Next time, don't wait so long to clue a brother in.

anon-Having junkies ask for money happens to me daily. Having junkies demand money by screaming does not.

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

try having the white guy who stands on that little street near the old days inn & russell street go off at you daily... he'll go up to every car and ask each for money and then when everyone says no he let's me know what a fucking prick i am.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Stephaine said...

I once had a guy ask me for spare change so he could buy something, I don't remember what. My reply to him was that I was the mother of 5 kids therefore I had on spare change because it was all accounted for. I then proceeded to tell him where the nearest shelter was that would help him find a job and get on his feet.

One day a guy asked me for money for the bus to get back to somewhere. I asked where he got the money from to get here and why he hadn't thought about needing money to return before he got here. They usually end up walking away from me rather quickly.

I can also get telemarketers to hang up on me as well.


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