Thursday, July 29, 2010

Am I wrong or was this guy a flaming douchebag?

So I was meeting Rachel at a corner in San Francisco the other evening and my phone died mid-conversation just as she was telling me how far away she was and how soon she would get there. This was in Hayes Valley, which is a pretty affluent and low-crime area.

I needed to call Rachel to confirm where she was to see if she needed a ride, so I asked the first person I saw walking on my side of the sidewalk if I could borrow a phone for 30 seconds because I was meeting someone and my phone had died mid-call. He looked to be in about his late 20s, was moderately chubby, dressed somewhat hipsterish, and had a Blackberry in his hand which he had clearly just finished using.

Our friend looked at me for a second and kind of threw back his head and said in what to me was an extremely whiny voice, "MAN.....are you serious?" Basically he implied that I had just asked for a piece of his liver, or definitely one of his kidneys.

Let me preface this by saying that I have let somebody on the street borrow my phone probably a dozen times. I normally have plenty of minutes, but even if I didn't, I consider it a matter of common courtesy to help somebody out when it costs me very little.

So anyway, taken aback because I thought I had made an imminently reasonable request, I simply said, "Well, yeah, but I guess you really don't have to if you don't want to."

He looked at me again, all huffy-puffy, an extremely put-out expression on his face, dropped the phone in his pocket, and said, "No, sorry. I really have to be someplace." Mind you, I was walking in the same direction as him, had my dead phone in my hand, and looked respectable because I had just come from work.

I was walking side-by-side with him for a while and he wouldn't even look in my direction to see the stunned look on my face. After a few seconds, I stopped and said, "Well, thanks. Thanks a lot, buddy. you really helped me out."

He acted like I hadn't said anything and didn't even flinch, so I yelled, "You know what? That was really shitty." Again no response, which served the dual purpose of pissing me off more and assuring me this guy was a giant pussy, so I added a final. "Yeah, that's right! Don't turn around! Thanks a lot for helping your fellow man! Dick!!"

I think it would have been pretty funny if he did turn around and try to fight me because that would have been an epic throwdown, the Ali-Frasier of chubby sissy-hipster slap fights, the pillow fight of the week as it were. But he didn't, so I guess I came out on top (if "coming out on top" means I had a crappy, dead cell phone in my hand and had just lowered myself to name-calling and half-threatening a weakling who was probably scared of my patchy beard and proto-mullet.

At this point, the interaction is merely an amusing anecdote and not really worthy of a blog post, but the next guy I asked who actually did let me borrow his iPhone told me one of the only reasons he let me borrow his phone was that he turned down the last guy who asked him to borrow his phone and the guy straight-up punched him in the face. Granted, he also said the reason he said refused the previous guy was because the guy had come off like an, in his words, asshole* when he asked to borrow it, but it still got me thinking.

What the hell is the big deal with lending someone a phone? Isn't that the most basic of common courtesies? Am I reaching when I say this is further proof that civility in this society is all but completed evaporated?

As usual, I will overreact and use this completely isolated incident to generalize about a whole group of people . What I'm going to take away from this is that the Me Generation has pretty much run amok in San Francisco, turning a charming destination for outlaws and immigrants into a yuppie wasteland.

Yep, I'm convinced. This would never happen in Oakland.


*Which was proof he didn't witness my altercation with the chubby hipster.


  1. This didn't happen in Oakland. When my bike chain broke and my phone was dead from my jenky touchstone charger a really nice lady let me use her cell phone. Although, she did look skeptical at first. I think she deduced from my fancy bike that I was not looking to steal her kidneys. Plus there were lots of people around.

  2. I think my biggest concern would be that the person borrowing the phone would just run away with my precious lifeline to the outside world. I'm not sure I could chase someone down nor would I know what to do if I caught them. I would attempt to trip them, but what if they smashed their head on the pavement?

  3. i would never let some ass clown like you borrow my phone

  4. I guess my answer to you would be that because you know what the guy looks like and where he was last seen on foot, and because it's fairly easy to triangulate a signal, you could always just notify the police if he runs off--assuming of course you find someone who isn't too terrified of letting you make a call to alert them.

    Plus, from the sound of it, your bigger concern should probably be saying no and getting punched in the face.

  5. That's effin ridiculous. People are assholes about weird shit. I am against generalizing and any time I've asked, people have let me borrow a phone and it is a common courtesy; however, that is embarrassing for that dude and incredibly un-civil.
    In general people are more often rude, I don't know if this would or would not happen in SF, but here people are ingrates. I notice this whenever I open a door for someone, so often people don't say thank you. It's shocking.

  6. Dude, a seemingly normal 17-year-old "youngster" of SF attempted to steal beer from MY FRONT PORCH in plain sight of both Rory and I - and the rest of Dolores Park. I don't trust anyone.

    Sidenote: I would have paid good money to see you yelling at this guy. That is some funny shit.

  7. If you asked me very sweetly, of course I'm going to trust you. Don't I always? That's why meth heads offer to paint my house promising me they are in rehab and I need to pay up front for supplies.

  8. Do you see what your phone looks like after you use it and before you wipe off your face funk? I wouldn't want to rub faces with most strangers (unless they're hot).

    In a separate but related experience, one time my friend once asked for a drag of a stranger's clove cigarette and the guy responded with, "I don't know you, I wouldn't kiss you". And I laughed because both those things turned out to be true.

  9. I can see both sides of this one. On one side, it's just a phone and it's only common courtesy to allow a stranger to make a desperate call so that he can meet up with his ladyfriend. On the other side, phones these days carry a ton of sensitive information (contact info for all of someone's contacts, photographs, text messages etc.), are expensive, and are a "necessary" part of our lives. Because of how valuable phones have become to most of our daily lives, it is understandable that some people just don't want to lend theirs out to "strangers."

    It seems like the rule should be: you're a "flaming douche" if you won't lend it to a friend (or friend of a friend) but it's a toss-up if you don't lend it to a stranger.