Yesterday our daughter had to work. She is the hostess at a cute, little restaurant nearby. Wayne and I decided to see a movie. After making a selection, we picked a cinema close to us. We had heard this movie would be sold out, so we went early to purchase our tickets. We had about 30 minutes to wait in the dark room with the ridiculous pre-movie clips looping. We were just waiting for the trailers; they would be a relief.
But the room filled up fast, and I was glad we got two good seats. I stayed planted while Wayne took a quick walk around and then back to his seat. About two minutes before showtime, the place was packed with the exception of two seats–one on each side of a couple in the row in front of us.
An elderly gentleman climbed the stairs and broached the woman sitting with one seat on her left. He asked kindly if she and her friend would mind scooting over, so he and his wife could sit together. The younger woman and man bolted out of their chairs and slammed their bodies down one place over. They made a scene, but this made room for the the elderly couple to sit together.
The elderly man motioned to his wife to climb the stairs and join him. He leaned over to the woman and man, who had moved, and said thank you. In fact, he said thank you three times. Then the woman said something that made the elderly man think that he was not welcome in the seat.
So he asked plainly, loud enough for us to hear, “I take it you don’t want us to sit here.”
Her reply, “No, I don’t.
Again, the elderly man asked, “You don’t want us to sit here?” His voice sounded stunned.
The answer, “No.”
The elderly man grabbed his wife’s hand and lead her out of the cinema. On his way out, he turned to the younger couple and said, “Well, we won’t sit here then. Happy holidays to you.”
The elderly couple left the cinema. The seats on the front row were just too close.
I was shocked at this selfish, rude behavior of the younger couple, feeling impositioned to move over one seat and enable the older couple to sit down together.
To what selfish heights have we climbed? We, who live lives of opulent luxury, even in middle-class America, such as the world has never seen. All this wealth, all this luxury, all this stuff, all this education, all these privileges, where has it led us?
No wonder the world hates us. This is a small thing, but it is a big thing. This is how we treat each other.
My husband and I travel extensively internationally. A decade ago, wherever we went, we were honored for being Americans. Believe me, we deserve no honor. But as Americans we always caused a stir. Now we cover our passports and try to pass quietly through borders and airports. We are not ashamed, but we are wise. It is not popular to be Americans on the international scene today. Believe me we hear more than our share of the world’s negative opinions of us outside of America.
The code by which we live says that “to whom much is given, much is required.”
We have been entrusted with great wealth, great opportunity, great education, and great stature in this world.
Why are we acting like small, selfish paupers, who can’t even move over one seat to allow our own elderly countrymen a good seat in the cinema? We have every reason to “freely give, as it has been given to us.” Our hearts should overflow with generosity, and especially now in the Season of Light, when the message is “Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.”
Peace and goodwill enter our lives by personal choice.
I am outraged!
That woman was worse than any Scrooge I have ever met, and I hope she reading this to see a mirror of what her selfishness looked like to us, the row of people sitting behind her.
I hope her selfishness ruined the movie for her. I doubt it though, her apathy was too thick, too inward, too hard.
Now I am wondering why we didn’t give our seats to the elderly couple. I guess we were too dull and apathetic too.