On my most recent visit to Las Vegas with my dad in February, we decided to go see Avatar at the theatre in the Palms Casino.
Like most Vegas casinos, the Palms takes up an entire city block and has multiple entrances. My dad is getting old and can’t walk very far, so I parked the van and asked him to wait while I undertook a solo walk-through to figure out which entrance was nearest the theatre box office. Then we drove around to that entrance so that I could let him out right at the door.
As we pulled up to the door a burly security guard shouted at me, “You can’t park there!”
I made some gestures through the windshield to indicate that I was just stopping for a moment.
“No stopping! Move the van!”
I rolled down the window and shouted back, “I’m just letting my dad out!”
“Move the fucking van!”
So I pulled the van forward another twenty yards and dropped my dad off not far from the door, an operation which took about twenty seconds. Then I drove around till I found a parking spot, parked, and walked to the entrance, where my dad was waiting for me on a bench.
To get to the door I had to walk right past the security guard. I resolved to ignore him, but as I went by, I noticed him giving me the “come here” gesture. I sighed and mentally prepared myself for an argument.
“The reason I can’t let anyone stop is because there’s an armored car parked over there,” he said. “Last week there was an armored car robbery and some civilians got caught in the crossfire. The policy is, we have to leave a clear escape route for the armored car. Alright?”
I grunted and walked on. “What did he say?” my dad asked. “Nothing,” I replied.
I was more frustrated by the security guard’s calm explanation than I had been by his yelling. As I saw it, my attempt to save my father a few steps had been thwarted by a rancorous fat Nazi of a security guard. Now I had to confront the reality that the security guard had just been enforcing a perfectly reasonable rule, and that I’d been the asshole, not him.
But was it fair of the security guard to turn me into the asshole? If your job requires you to yell at people for no apparent reason, you can expect them to yell back. I’m sure that’s unpleasant, and it must be a relief to be able to appease your conscience afterward by explaining to people why you were yelling. But for the people who got yelled at, all your explanation does is deny them an outlet for their irritation.
I think under the circumstances, the security guard would have been kinder not to try and justify himself. Rather than easing his conscience by turning me into the asshole, he should have just been the asshole. I would have found the experience far less unsettling if the security guard had glared at me, arms crossed, when I walked by. “Fuckin’ fat Nazi,” I would’ve muttered, and felt fine about myself.
A couple days ago, driving to work, I encountered a detour a half-block from my office. All westbound traffic on 33rd Street was forced to turn right. “Aha,” I thought, “I’ll just turn into the parking lot of this furniture store and cut across the road to my building.” But having turned into the parking lot, I discovered that the other exit was blocked and there was no way to cut across. Now I had to make a left-hand turn from the parking lot back into the flow of traffic, which with the extra congestion caused by the detour was nearly impossible. Finally a couple drivers stopped and waved me in, and I rejoined the diverted traffic flow.
So I followed the detour until I reached 33rd Street again, several blocks from my office in the opposite direction. And now I discovered to my annoyance that there was another roadblock which prevented me from turning left. Both routes to my workplace had been cut off.
Swearing at the idiocy of city workers, I manoeuvred around the barrier and drove down the empty street. As I neared my building I saw that yet another barrier had been erected directly in front of our parking lot. Some guys in orange vests jumped out and waved their arms angrily as I approached.
“This road is closed!” they shouted.
I rolled down the window. “I work right fucking there,” I shouted back.
After a little shouting back and forth one of the city workers dragged the barrier out my way. Just before I rolled up my window another guy, mistakenly assuming that I’d come from the west rather than the east, said in a lecturing tone, “Next time, follow the detour.”
“I followed the fucking detour,” I growled, and peeled into the parking lot. Getting out of my car, I felt a little bad for swearing at these knuckleheads, and I started to hike back to explain to them that I’d lost my temper because their roadblocks had left no legitimate way to access my office.
But then I thought, why screw up their day? I’m strong enough to bear the burden. I’ll be the asshole.
I turned and went into my office.