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The Rude Traveler

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Gulf of Finland

If you're going to piss people off, don't do it somewhere it's easy to dump a body

After many years of traveling, I have reached the conclusion that no matter which part of the world you visit, you’re guaranteed at least once in your journey to cross paths with the universally despised creature known – in polite conversation at least – as “the rude traveler”.

My most recent encounter with one of these unpleasant individuals occured on a passenger ferry between Helsinki and Tallinn, where – after having just found myself a comfortable seat in the ship’s television lounge – I was trying hard to concentrate on not doing what I generally do at sea, which is get rapidly and debilitatingly seasick. It was while quietly contemplating the effectiveness of my chosen medication (side note: never buy pharmaceuticals unless the dosage instuctions are in English) that I witnessed a middle-aged European man stride in with his wife, change the channel from the one that had been playing since the ship left shore, then casually sit down to watch his new choice of show.

Now, as far as I was concerned, this abrupt change in programming wasn’t a huge issue, as my near-complete ignorance of the local language meant the level of enthusiasm I was able muster for Finnish daytime television was fairly minimal. The lounge full of people who had been watching the TV, however, were clearly more invested in what was happening than I was and seemed rather taken aback at the audacity of the man’s actions.

After a few moments of silence and blank stares – in which the entire room seemed to be telepathically asking each other, “Is this guy for real?” – there was a loud murmur of protest, before one of the offended viewers jumped up and switched back to the original channel, angrily chastising Mr Rude as he did so.

It quickly became obvious though, that incurring the wrath of close to twenty fellow travelers was not an issue for this particular individual, for as soon as the offended viewer was back in his seat, Mr Rude stood up, fllcked the channel back to his choice of program and sat down again to watch it. Rather astonishingly, he then then had the balls to criticise the other man for interrupting his viewing.

Not surprisingly, this resulted in an immediate declaration of war from the offended viewer and for the next minute, the two combatants leapt up and down from their seats, flicking the switch back and forth in a ridiculously comical “duck season, rabbit season” scenario. The entire exchange was accompanied by a fairly heated flow of words in what I presume was either Finnish or Estonian (or possibly both; neither seemed to be getting their point of view across to the other particularly well), as well as a variety of heckling and insults from the crowd.

The situation escalated well beyond the point of total absurdity before the rude traveler finally realised he wasn’t going to get his way and grumpily stormed off – haughty-looking wife in tow – presumably to try his luck in the lounge on the other side of the ship.

With order once again restored to the universe (or at least the television lounge, anyway), I was left to ponder the following question: Is the person who does this sort of thing too stupid to realise they’re being an a**hole, or are they just too much of an a**hole to actually care?

I guess the sad fact is, either way, they’re an a**hole….and they’re coming soon to a plane, train, or Finnish/Estonian ferry service near you. 

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