Periscope Depth

I must be your mother if your life is all my fault

Just minutes ago, getting off the train, I passed a gentleman wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the following:

Let me think: stop everything I’m doing and work on YOUR PROBLEMS? I DON’T THINK SO!

This was the latest example I’ve seen of what I call the Fuck-You-Stranger line of paraphernalia. You see it on bumper stickers, tourist shirts and quaint little desk plaques that receptionists can hang next to their computers. Things like “I Can Only Please One Person a Day. Today isn’t your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either.” Or “Every Day I’m Forced to Add Another Name To The List of People Who Piss Me Off!” Or, well, why wallow further in misanthropy by listing more examples. Tail a motorcyle or a beater Dodge long enough and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s not the attitude itself that confuses me; it’s the attitude untempered by humor. “You Say I’m A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing” comes from a similar place, but at least it’s clever. At least it reverses expectations (ha ha, you expected to insult me by calling me a bitch, well let me just tell you). Or the “Take A Number” hand grenade plaque. Oh, I get it. Ha. But not even trying to make a joke out of your hostility toward strangers makes me think you’re not being cynical or cocky. It makes me think you mean it.


And how hollow must your life be that you need to advertise a perpetual anger? That it’s not enough to wait until people talk to you for five seconds and see your sullen eyes, hear your voice rendered gravelly by years of ripping the filters off Marlboros, and watch your posture slump in frustration as you ask them a favor. That you have to color every interaction by warning the person in front of you that you view their request to share space (gah!) or work with you civilly (wtf?) as an assault. Let me save you some time, your T-shirt says. I’m going to be mad at you for reasons you’ll never know.

If someone showed up to my office wearing a bulletproof vest, I’d wonder what they planned on starting. Why should I treat someone with an angry T-shirt any different?

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