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.