The World Is His Ash Tray

by admin on May 29, 2012

Last night my husband and I attended the final spring concert for our daughters ages 9 and 10. There were the usual folks who ran up the aisle to capture their kids on digital, and the late comers who are oblivious to the performance , this was annoying and rude but did not reach the level of rudeness of a man who took a call in the middle of the auditorium . He proceeded to laugh, make hand gestures, and carry on a full blown conversation in the middle of the performance.

This made everyone around him upset, when my husband leaned in and said, “ Can you take your call outside buddy?”. The man proceeded to walk to the back of the auditorium, not outside and continue his call. He could be heard by everyone.

After the concert was over this rude lout charged up to my husband and challenged him to a fight, and he threatened my husband. It was really scary. He said that my husband shouldn’t of spoken to him in that way and that he was going to wait outside for him. What makes this even more horrendous is that a child was killed by a impaired driver outside the school 2 days before hand. Everyone was really raw and this angry exchange sent peoples nerves on edge.

The man was indeed outside, fortified with what looked like a teenaged relative, I said let’s get out of here and we went to the car and drove off. We escaped, and a good thing too because my husband is a lifelong hockey player, and boxed Golden gloves 10-0. What struck me the most was the restraint my husband used in not escalating this drama. This ingrate was obviously embarrassed by being told to tone it down, but not enough that he challenged a 6 foot 200lb man in the middle of a kiddy concert at a public school in front of hundreds of grieving parents.

Hopefully this person will not escalate his feud, but if he does the police are aware of the incident, and my hubby is still the protector of his family he has always been. 0525-12

My husband has a phrase he uses to describe such people, “The world is their ash tray.”   Their nasty habits and behaviors are not confined merely to themselves but are inflicted on everyone else thus making every situation they are in a miserable place for others.   They are true narcissists in that the ends justifies the means and they simply do not care how their actions impacts those around them.

When I read stories like this, I wish people in attendance would whip out their camera phones and start recording the cretins.   Then post the videos to Youtube.   (Maybe Ehell needs its own channel so others would be more willing to upload videos of this kind.)

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

sv May 29, 2012 at 5:15 am

I love the phrase ” The world is their ashtray.” Perfectly sums up so many people and situations! Thanks, Mr Admin :)

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--Lia May 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

Is there no one in charge at these events? No house manager, school custodian, no one taking tickets or making announcements? Someone must have the keys to lock up; that’s the person who may be considered in charge. I have a hard time imagining that an open public building is the Wild West. From the first moment the man was making that much noise on his cell, the person in charge should have been summoned. The moment he started making threats, someone with a their own cell should have calmly called for the police.

Even the bit about running up the aisle to take videos. At the beginning of the evening, someone announces that this area here is the appropriate one for taking pictures and that each parent is limited to using that area only when his or her child is on stage. That’s the same moment the announcer tells people to turn off their cell phones and to open their cellophane wrapped candies. For people coming in late, the usher quietly shows them to seats in the very back. Fifteen minutes in, there’s a brief time signaled by the announcer that those in the back may now move forward if they like.

I’ve read in this column before that that is indeed the way these kids’ performances are handled. The adults who organize only concern themselves with the children backstage and nothing is done about managing the adults in the audience. In that case, I think I would refuse to let my child participate with the straightforward explanation that you don’t allow your children to go to unsupervised parties either. There’s some level of lawlessness that shouldn’t be allowed.

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twik May 29, 2012 at 6:45 am

I would suggest advising the school of this. Parents who threaten violence on school property need to be banned immediately.

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Vrinda May 29, 2012 at 8:24 am

What an idiot. The guy needs to challenge someone to a fight to show how tough he is, and actually thinks that he was victimized because of his rudeness. If you know or can find out the name of this punk, you should make sure other parents know about him as well as the school and the police.

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Hemi May 29, 2012 at 8:49 am

The person in charge should have removed the man when the cell phone conversation began and then called police when he threatened the OP’s husband.
I’m sure he was embarrassed and felt the need to “defend” his manliness with violence. He was probably a bully in school.

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allyoops May 29, 2012 at 9:16 am

This isn’t so much about etiquette as it is a wierdo who threatens violence.

But, I’m wondering about the etiquette of a concert so closely following such a tragic death. Are there etiquette rules about something like that? I understand that life goes on, and many people may have even felt some healing watching the children perform, but this just makes me wonder, you know?

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emeraldsage85 May 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

Zero tolerance policies for violence should apply to parents at concerts too.

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whatever May 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

I went to a show once where a woman took a cell phone call. She didn’t leave either- she just stood near the emergency exit near the front of the seating area, near the stage. It was a tiny theatre, and sound carried very well, so everyone could hear what she was saying. One of the actors (there were only two, playing something like 9 characters) ended up coming down off the stage, grabbing the phone, and speaking into it in character, telling the person on the other end, in falsetto, “My husband has just been murdered, it’s very upsetting, could you please get off the phone?” (It was a murder-mystery.) I wonder what the other person thought!

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Amp2140 May 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

-Lia, there are often hundreds of kids at these things, and the few teachers that go are in charge of keeping them in line. Often only the auditorium is open for the concert, so any other person ‘in charge’ could be elsewhere in the school.

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Angel May 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

No matter how many times I read about it on this website, I am still amazed at how many seemingly innocuous situations seem to escalate so quickly. It’s a good thing that your husband chose to not get involved in a physical altercation but I have to wonder too, if this is something that might happen then where is security at events like these? I know it’s elementary school but having a police officer nearby could go a long way in preventing stuff like this from getting out of hand. In my area they have police officers nearby all the time for high school events–I would venture to say that elementary school events are just as prone to violence as high school events especially in this day and age. Sad to say but that’s the way it is at least in my area.

I have never heard the expression the world is his ash tray, it sounds pretty accurate in this case. My experience has been that some people just have no filter, no restraint and do not seem to understand what type of behavior is appropriate in certain venues. Bottom line is, some people just have no class. I think the problem here was not that the OP’s husband said something to the man, but that no one else said anything to the man. If enough people were to stand up and say, this behavior will not be tolerated, oftentimes the person is shamed into behaving themselves. I can’t seem him wanting to take on the entire auditorium LOL

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tru May 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love the idea of an Etiquette Hell Youtube.com channel!

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Shalamar May 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

I sometimes wonder about the etiquette of taking pictures or video at a school event. I was at a concert recently in which the person in front of me held up his camera to record the entire performance (his arm must’ve been killing him). It didn’t block my vision (much), but it was very distracting. At one point, when the principal was making some announcements before continuing the music, the guy decided to review the footage he’d shot so far – complete with the sound turned on,so that I couldn’t hear the announcements. He got a lot of dirty looks from everyone around him, but he was completely oblivious.

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Redneck Gravy May 29, 2012 at 11:42 am

I agree with Lia – someone is in charge, he should have been removed from the auditorium and the minute threatened violence police should have been called.

When we (the public) put a stop to these escapades others will follow and some of this cell phone nonsense will stop.

Why wasn’t the concert stopped to allow this lout to finish his call, complete with spotlight? That is how my DD school would have handled it, although some louts cannot be embarrassed enough!

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Huh May 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

I really think parents are getting worse…or maybe just society has an overwhelming “it’s all about me” mentality. The last couple of concerts I’ve been to is held at an auditorium, with the kids on the gym floor and the audience in the bleachers. Parents have gotten up while the students were playing and walked right up to the band to stand right in front of and film their precious angel. That’s not distracting to the kids or anything. And no one said a thing! There is also a steady flow of people walking in and out of the auditorium, talking and chatting, again, as the kids are playing or singing.

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Justin May 29, 2012 at 11:46 am

It almost seems like the guy wanted to get into a fight that day, so he engaged in an obnoxious behaviour and challenged the first person to call him on it.

As someone who is frequently on call for work if I am not able to turn off my phone for a few hours during an event I get there early enough to get an aisle seat, set my phone to vibrate, and if I need to take a call slip out of the building and return the call if I can’t answer in the time it takes to egress from the building. Personal calls wait until after the performance unless the person calls a few times in a row to indicate an emergency.

Maybe I am just odd, but I prefer my phone conversations be somewhat private whether they are business or personal, so I remove myself from a group of people for both good etiquette and my privacy.

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Calli Arcale May 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I’m very glad this didn’t escalate further. There have been some really terrifying stories of violence at school events lately, and it’s the *parents* who are the perpetrators! I feel blessed that none of the parents at my daughters’ school seem likely to do this sort of thing, and I hope it stays that way.

I also love the idea of an EHell YouTube channel. ;-)

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Helen May 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

That’s so awful, OP.

You two handled a terrible situation well. Good for you and good for your husband!

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Moralia May 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm

An EHell YouTube channel where we get to see people using the best of good manners to shut down boors. Yes, please!

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Cat May 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Any performance at a school should have security present to handle these people. Their name is Legion and they are everywhere. Your husband was right to correct him and right not to knock him on his backside.

A girl friend of mine and I had a similar experience where there was no security. We got behind the guy and began kissing on our hands and saying, “Oh, yes, baby! You’re the best! Yes! Yes!” I hope his wife was on the other end,but he ended the call before we learned to whom he was speaking. Let him try to explain that.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Please allow me to “second” Lia’s observations. A responsible party must plan for possible scenarios and arrange for deterrents to be in place. One cannot plan for everything, but her suggestions were excellent and would most likely have prevented this situation from escalating. Actually, my dear sister chided me the other day for asking an employee to intervene at a theater where a patron was snapping away merrily with his cell phone camera and its “high beam” flash light. (A few photos are understandable, it’s fun and harmless before the film. After awhile? Enough already, you’ve photographed your beer, your partner, your entree, your partner’s entree, your hands, her hands, her entree from a second view…all with the focused beam of light bouncing off the surrounding patrons as you work the camera to the desired angle and focus.) Her feeling was that a complainer should do their own “dirty work”. Mine was that “sir, could you ask the gentleman to turn off the flash?” was more likely to be received as house rules by the photographer as opposed to correction from a random stranger.

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lkl492 May 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm

The person I feel most sorry for is this jerk’s kid.

I assume he was there because his child was part of the performance. Can you imagine being onstage and hearing your father’s voice, first taking a phone call and then trying to start a fight?

And where was the child when the jerk was waiting outside the entrance waiting to jump the LW’s husband? Poor kid. This post has made me angrier than possibly anything I’ve seen on eHell.

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Katje May 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I concur on the suggestion to record and put rude people like that phone jerk on blast on youtube for Ehell. I can’t believe how selfish and incredibly rude he was to loudly carry on his conversation in the middle of a play! Bet that guy was lucky your husband didn’t make him kiss concrete. I believe if you need or want to talk on the phone, take it outside or somewhere that’s permissible at least. Nobody cares about your conversations with whoever’s on the other end. We just wanna watch the show!

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grumpy_otter May 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

As a smoker, I’d like to say that not ALL of us use the world as our ash tray–some of us even pick up the butts scattered by the less-polite. But I know that wasn’t the point. . . :-)

I wanted husband to kick the living you-know-what out of that doofus–even though I know that is not a worthy thought. (And apparently he could have!)

I wonder if this might be our consolation when confronted with such behavior–we COULD have kicked their butts! I look quite frail in terms of fighting–5’4″ and pretty hefty now due to a hip injury, but I used to be a body builder and trained in karate. I think I will tell myself in the future that the jerk is lucky I didn’t decide to remove parts of his anatomy!

But we trained killers will take the high road when confronted with rudeness, and disengage.

Ehell youtube channel? OH YEAH!!!!!!!

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MellowedOne May 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm

“The world is their ash tray.” – Love it :)

Another good one,

“Violence is the refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov, Foundation Series

The real strength lies in self-restraint. Well handled, OP.

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Angel May 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Just a word about picture taking: I think that with the advent of great zoom lens there is really no need to stand in the front. My daughter’s school has no rules about picture taking but most of the parents stand in the back or sometimes the far sides to get their shots. I use my Canon Rebel T3 for both still shots and video and it’s fantastic. I can stand way in the back of the room and still get amazing shots. I have never stood in front of anyone, and practically never use a flash. If you have the right camera and some skill you needn’t bother anyone with your picture taking. Heck, even cell phone cameras (that 90 percent of the world uses) do have a zoom lens on them.

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Sophia May 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

@sv: Just wanted to let you know that “Mr.” Admin is Ms. Jeanne Hamilton. ;)

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Cat Whisperer May 30, 2012 at 1:31 am

While I applaud the idea of showing up louts who behave badly, to the inconvenience and annoyance of people with better manners, I have to say this: safety trumps etiquette every time. When you confront someone who is behaving with complete disregard for other people, you are putting yourself (and anyone else with you) at risk. This is never a good idea, especially when there are alternatives.

The first thing that comes to mind is to make an appointment to discuss this incident with the organizers of the concert. From context, I would infer that this was a school event. There should have been somebody in the school administration who approached this boor and escorted him out of the auditorium to finish his phone call. (If the school really wanted to drive home the point about courtesy to others, whoever was directing the kids’ performance could have brought the performance to a stop, pointedly waiting for this lout to put his cell phone away or leave the auditorium).

Since that didn’t happen, if I were the OP, I would make an appointment with whoever was in charge to work on a plan to deal with this sort of thing at future concerts.

I just think that the idea of confronting someone who obviously isn’t concerned with what other people think is a very bad, potentially dangerous idea. You don’t know if someone has mental issues, substance abuse problems, or is emotionally unbalanced and potentially dangerous. It seems to me that however satisfying it might seem to put the jerk on the spot, the risk you’re taking, especially with children present, is too high. Be safe, work with whoever is in charge to develop a plan to deal with future incidents, and content yourself with being glad that you have better manners than the jerk does.

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meganamy May 30, 2012 at 2:02 am

OP, good for your husband for telling the man to be quiet. And good for him for not engaging in a fight.

My question is what is someone to do if they are not near the offender? I’m sure there were many other people in the audience who would have loved to have told the offender to quiet down, but they were possibly 30 feet away. Should they have ignored him as they did, leaving OP’s husband to feel like he was alone in his plight? Should they have tried to stand up and walk past others seated in the audience to walk over to the offender and ask him to quiet down? Should they have cupped their hands and loudly yelled at him to be quiet? Probably not the last one.

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A May 30, 2012 at 2:09 am

I had something similar happen to me this morning while at the local coffee house. I had intentionally stood a few feet back from the register because I know I appreciate a little space and privacy when ordering, especially if I’m paying by debit!

Instead of bringing up his concern to me directly, he elected to just cut in front of me in line to get my attention. I used my polite spine and said “Sir, the line is back there.” He then very aggressively said “Oh, so you noticed that did you? Other people are waiting outside in the cold because you didn’t move your !@#!@$ !#$!@ up to the register.” Over the next minute or so he continued to pick a fight with me and tried to get me to lose my temper, even to the point of threatening physical violence.

When he was done ranting I informed him (still very calmly and politely) that the way he was speaking to me was in no way appropriate and I did not appreciate his attempts to intimidate me. And that if he continued, I would be more than happy to contact the police to report the harassment and assault (where I live, threats of bodily harm are a form of assault and can be prosecuted).

I think the thing that really burns me the most is not even that this man was being so horrible; it’s that none of the employees or other customers said anything. Even the people right behind us were looking away and pretending it wasn’t happening.

Edmund Burke said it best “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

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Katie May 30, 2012 at 3:43 am

@Sophia – In using “Mr Admin”, I assume sv was referring to this part of Admin’s post “My husband has a phrase he uses to describe such people, “The world is their ash tray.””

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--Lia May 30, 2012 at 5:06 am

As much as I get a giggle out of the idea of putting videos of rude people on youtube in general, I think the idea would backfire in this case. For whatever psychological reason I can’t understand, this guy likes being thought of as a jerk. He enjoys getting attention and annoying people or he wouldn’t have made that loud phone call including laughter and hand gestures in the first place. He enjoyed making that big threat in front of a lot of people. If he could have, he would have had more people watching. We see him as a jerk. He sees himself as some sort of hero. He’d be proud of a youtube video and encouraged to try to see if he could get more like it.

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Aje May 30, 2012 at 8:31 am

@Sophia

I think she was referring to Ms. Jeanne Hamilton´s husband. Mr. Admin. XD

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Enna May 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

@ Twik, it shoudl be reported – they don’t know if the child is at risk. If anyone threatened me I would take a photo and say “do you want me to call the police?” see how they like that.

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Cat Whisperer May 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm

“A” quoted Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

With all due respect to those who are advocating confronting the lout, you can do something about evil, or even just plain bad manners, without putting yourself or those around you at risk from someone who, for all you know, may be mentally ill and deliberately trying to provoke a fight.

I guess public memory is short, because nobody seems to remember the case of Michael Costin, the 40-year-old single father of four kids who got into a verbal dispute with another father, Thomas Junta, at a junior hockey game their kids were playing in. Words were exchanged when Junta apparently felt that Costin, who was referee in the game, was allowing other players to rough up Junta’s son. The dispute was initially verbal, but as the men and their kids were leaving the game, it escalated into a physical dispute, and Costin was knocked over. He suffered a head injury that ultimately proved fatal.

Confronting a lout or boor directly and physically confronting him isn’t the only way to deal with such a situation. Some better options: get someone who has authority to act to intervene; try to enlist a group of other people to go along with requesting the objectionable behavior cease; or even gritting your teeth and letting the lout do his thing, and then making a point of working with authorities to assure that there is no repetition (and even, if appropriate, that the lout suffers some sort of penalty, such as being banned from future events).

I agree wholeheartedly that if you don’t do anything about objectionable behavior, the people who behave badly have no incentive to correct their behavior. But I disagree 100% with people who advocate a direct, one-on-one confrontation with someone who is already behaving in a way that indicates he/she doesn’t give a rat’s rear end who he/she inconveniences or upsets. Someone who is behaving that way may very well be unbalanced, and I don’t care what etiquette felony is being committed, it’s not worth risking injury or death to act as “manners police” and confront them.

You have to pick your battles in life. There are things I would certainly hazard my life for: but to have the satisfaction of confronting a boor who is interrupting a concert by speaking on his cell phone? No. Especially when I can do something much more effective, like talking to the concert organizers to make darn sure that any future offenses are dealt with promptly, officially, and SAFELY. The more so since this is a situation where children are involved.

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StephM May 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I remember being in band in middle school and at our first concert we asked the director to tell parents to stop using the flash on their cameras. It was a well lit gymnasium, the flash did nothing but distract a bunch of nervous 12 year olds. The flashes decreased but did not disappear. The next concert he asked parents to turn off flash before the performance started, but of course some people didn’t listen.
During elementary school I played soccer. (Let me emphasize this for a moment – ELEMENTARY school!) The number of parents that got kicked out was amazing. My teammate’s grandfather was finally banned from attending any game in the league because he was always screaming and cussing – he was our assistant coach!

It’s truly embarrassing to be the child of the disruptive parent. Everyone looks at you funny for a while and it can be the only thing a person remembers about you years later; I’ve no idea what that teammate’s name was but I remember her grandfather.

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Anon May 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Aaaaaaand this is why you can buy a pocket sized cell phone jammer for $25 from Chinese websites. Click the button, call goes away. Wait for him to leave trying to find a signal, turn if back off.

Illegal, of course. But not immoral. And downright handy.

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erica September 9, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Quite honestly our school districts can barely afford to run the buses no less hire security!
They shouldn’t have to.
At some point the other parents SHOULD shame this guy with dirty looks and tell him to go outside..rather than just ONE parent. Unfortunately in our fear of retribution we let things go that we shouldn’t.

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EchoGirl June 1, 2013 at 12:10 am

Late to the game but I have a couple good ones. Mind you, this is pretty much hearsay since at the production in question I was wardrobe crew and in the dressing rooms, but I was on radio headset (think really good walkie-talkie with a headphone-microphone combo attached) so I was in the middle of a lot of this. Should probably pause here to add that this was a college production with ticketed admission, not that far off from a professional production.

The first story happened during an intermission. I was hearing the general chatter over the headset when all of a sudden I hear the stage manager (SM) start mumbling “get off the stage get off the stage”. I thought he was talking to someone on crew (maybe someone had started doing scene changes too early or something) and then I hear SM say “can someone get him off the stage?” Turns out some guy from the front row had gotten up to exit the theater, but instead of leaving the way he came in he wandered right onto the stage (level with the floor, not raised). Not just over a corner of it either, but enough that the SM could clearly see it from the back of the house.

The other incident happened a couple of days later, on what I think was our closing show. Let me preface this a bit by saying that students in some classes are required to see these shows and write short papers on them, but it’s nothing that requires intimate detail that they couldn’t remember. We’ve had neverending issues with people bringing in notebooks and writing during the show, but this one took the cake. A girl brought in A LAPTOP and proceeded to sit in the front row of the house. I found out about this when one of the actresses asked me to call SM and inform him of the situation. She also informed me that if someone didn’t take care of it, she intended to close the laptop for this particular patron the next time she was onstage. House management took care of it, but I wouldn’t have put it past this particular actress to make good on her threat.

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