After a long wait in a mile-long queue for a movie ticket at a multiplex, it was finally my turn at the ticket window. “May I have…” I began before I was rudely jostled to one side. “SIX GHAJINI!” yelled a man sporting a bright yellow t-shirt, thick gold chain and spectacles, before proffering me a generous lungful of “fresh” air from his underarms. Recovering quickly, I felt my hackles rise. This was just plain rude and I don’t mean the assault on my olfactory senses.
“Excuse me” I snapped, “there is a queue here.” “But I am standing here, no?” he shot back. Apparently, that was reason enough to be issued his tickets first. I decided that there was really no point arguing with someone who clearly lacked basic courtesy and thought flashing his gold credit card was reason enough to jump a queue. I turned to the man behind the ticket counter and looked at him questioningly. At least, I hope that was the expression I managed considering I was seething with anger. He looked at me sheepishly and then at the waving credit card. I am quite sure he would have favored the bobbing credit card had the person behind me not piped up and voiced his displeasure as well.
At the software biggie where I worked, it was commonplace to see women being shoved out of the way as their male counterparts rushed through entrance doors, boarded company buses, and grabbed cups of coffee from the vending machine in the miniscule pantry. The narrow office aisles only made matters worse for the fairer sex. Women found themselves bunged out of the way, only just stopping themselves from landing on the laps of other employees seated at their desks. The word “lap top” almost acquired a whole new meaning thanks to a bunch of uncouth men. The cliché “chivalry is dead” could not have been more pertinent.
One time, a group of us five women found ourselves squashed into the back of a company bus, unable to disembark because the men were in a hurry to do so first themselves. “Ladies”, I sarcastically called out, “please remain seated, the gentlemen have to get out first, remember?” Apart from a few puzzled looks from the men in question and a lot of horrified “Lord! Let me pretend I don’t know this woman!” looks from my women friends, the statement failed to incite any positive reactions.
I became so accustomed to crude male ways in the civilian world that meeting a bunch of army officers (read: genuine gentlemen) was a sea change of sorts. They stand when a lady enters the room (okay, I agree that this is a bit much), politely greet her, call her “ma’am” at all times (amusing although unwarranted I feel) and offer her a drink. Men offering women drinks out of pure courtesy and no ulterior motives whatsoever are almost unheard of in “civvie” world!
I had some work at an army club office the other day. As I waited my turn, an elderly gentleman stood up and offered me his seat. Although I politely refused for quite a while, he insisted that I sit and would not take no for an answer. So (I say this with some shame) this 20-something damsel sat down while the kindly 70-something old man stood and waited.
My respect for the complete chivalry that officers of every rank and age display knows no bounds. Gentlemen, you offer a complete breath of fresh air amidst smelly armpits.