The first incident was in the queue for the baggage X-ray at the Eurostar check-in. Our delightful subject (in his sixties, I guess, along with his wife) decided that the person at the front of the queue was taking too long to get their affairs in order, and elbowed past not one, not two, nor yet three, nor even four, but five people to get to the front of the queue to get his bags onto the conveyor. I mean, it's not like we're not going to catch the train, is it?
When you run a self-service, fast-food business, it is fairly easy to know how long the average customer takes to consume his meal. When you know how fast you can serve the meals you can then plan the number of tables you need, and this number is sensibly independent of the length of your queue for service. This fine balance is then completely screwed up by cretins who "reserve" a table by sitting at it and defending the unnocupied places by asserting that "someone is sitting there" while the rest of their troupe queues for food. The longer the queue for food, the more tables are wasted in this way. Prize goes to the woman at the Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles, who bagged not one, not two, but three whole tables (places for 12 people) for her meal-buying crew. Since hers was the most blatant abuse of all, I ate my meal there. I was gone before her group arrived to eat.
But queue-jumping and table-bagging are not exactly new forms of boorish behaviour. Heck, in our wild and impetuous youth, some of us might even have done it. Occasionally. But I was surprised and delighted to be able to study what was for me, a completely new phenomenon on the Air Canada flight from Paris to Toronto. A woman two seats away from me decided that her husband would be especially interested in an article in the paper she had just opened. She read it to him out loud. The whole thing. It was a full page of a broadsheet newspaper. It took her from about two minutes after sitting down, through the push-off from the terminal, through taxiing for take-off, take-off, climb to cruising altitude, and a few minutes of cruising. It was a précis of a speech given by Steve Jobs and printed in tribute. Since he graphically described some of his interventions for cancer, I was only glad it wasn't colo-rectal.
Her husband's reaction was equally interesting to watch. About halfway in he started playing with the touch screen in front of him, presumably found some music, and plugged the left earpiece into his ear. However he couldn't quite bring himself to plug in the one on the side his wife was sitting. He played with it, scratched his cheek with it, but couldn't quite bring himself to put it in. I was just willing him silently on... go on... go on... No luck.
That's all from your Grumpy Old Man News Network, stay tuned for more updates. And now life resumes as per normal.