Let’s talk about 'adult infant syndrome' -- or AIS as I like to refer to this phenomenon. You’ve probably come into contact with someone who suffers from AIS or, perhaps, you've even experienced AIS symptoms yourself. AIS is characterized by prolonged bouts of completely self-absorbed behavior including but not limited to
- Idling in the kiss-n-go elementary drop-off line with bumper stickers that read: BEND OVER! HERE COMES YOUR STIMULUS PACKAGE or OMG WTF or (my personal favorite) DOUCHEBAG cleverly camouflaged as the red white and blue Obama logo
- Wearing an ORGASM DONOR tshirt
- Driving like public roads are your own personal thoroughfares
- Repeatedly smacking your child in the Target check-out line
Of course, these are just a few of the ways AIS presents itself. For example, the other day, I pull into a gas station to fill up my ultra-hip minivan. During a desperate attempt to enter my zip code with frozen fingers, in pulls one of those silver SUVs -- big as Maine -- and out steps a very angry young woman. She proceeds to give me the hairy eyeball and, when I turn to see what she’s looking at (it couldn’t be me!), she says, “That’s the pump I wanted.”
I still think she’s talking to someone else because I’d noticed that shiny bright thing sitting at the red light when I pulled into the gas station. I couldn’t have taken her pump. She came in after me.
And, really. What? You’ve got to be kidding me.
It’s bitterly cold, my hands are freezing and I just want to get back in the car. I decide to ignore her.
“Hey! Lady! That’s the pump I wanted.”
“Are you talking to me?” I look around – again -- because I still can’t believe she’s serious.
She’s flips a thick lock of black hair off her shoulder, shifts her weight into one hip and rummages in her huge leather bag, “Yeah. You pulled in before I could get to it.”
At this point, I’m waiting for the guy to tell me I’ve been caught on Candid Camera (it’s okay…it was the original Punk’d). But no one jumps out so I say, “Why, exactly, do you think this is your pump?”
This kid can’t be more than eighteen. Tops. And I’m thinking, Daddy’s car. Daddy’s girl. But maybe, just maybe, I can reason with her.
“Because that’s the pump we always use.”
There are nine pumps and only two other customers. I try to get a read on this kid. She’s decked out. But not the I’m going somewhere special decked out. More like the decked out that reeks of logos and wealth and entitlement.
“Really? This—“ I point to the pump, “is your pump?”
She still hasn’t started filling up her car. She’s standing there with her bling-y hands and pursed lips and cocked hip demanding that I pull out of her space. I am, after all, inconveniencing her.
I decide that reasoning might be beyond her. Perhaps mild humor? “Oh my goodness,” I lean over to inspect the pump for a dedication plaque, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know this was your pump. That’s so cool. Is your name on it?”
No sarcasm for this one. Shaking her head, she sighs audibly, “There’s no plaque. God, you’re so stu--“
“Okay, young lady,” I snap, “that’s enough.”
Her head jerks like I’d just bitch-slapped her (which…but… no…).
“First off, just because you’ve used this pump in the past doesn’t mean it’s your pump.”
“Are you kidding me?
“Serious as a heart attack.”
“What does that mean?”
“Second, you’re very rude.”
She stops like no one had ever called her out before. She then whips out her cell phone and proceeds to tell the poor soul on the other end about the bitch who just took her gas pump.
I take a very long time pulling away from that pump.
Classic AIS: complete and total self-absorption, lack of regard for others, outrageous sense of entitlement. If that was my kid, I’d give her the what-for. And then some. Young lady.
I’m. So. Very. Old.
Regardless, a friend of mine says that people are no longer 'other-oriented.' She defines O-O as the ability to put others first, to think about the good of the whole instead of always watching out for number one. She says that, when she was a kid and guests entered her parents’ home, they were treated like royalty, that, when you were out in public, you acted responsibly and kind to others.
So, the combination of AIS and lack of being other-oriented (or LOBOO) can be toxic. You can’t believe how people treat my 91-year-old mama. She’s cute as a bug’s ear, deaf, walks slower than Mrs. Wiggins (Carol Burnett Show reference…look it up) and asks really loud questions during moments of silence at funerals. Sure, she can be irritating but, at 91, I figure she’s entitled.
When she was still driving (very slowly) other drivers would flip her off, pull up next to her at a light to scream at her, pull around her, honking, when she made left hand turns. It was unbelievable.
We’ll be walking into the Jewel (again…very slowly) and some joker will come up fast behind us. Instead of waiting, she'll either walk right on mama's heels or cut her off to get in before her.
Now, I’m not saying that there is a total breakdown of civil behavior but I’m just noticing it more and more. And I can’t help wondering if AIS and LOBOO syndromes have become so widespread that a drug might be in order. Do our beloved pharmaceutical companies need to whip up a pill or tonic to ease the irritating symptoms of AIS and LOBOO, isolate the guilty cells and work with an advertising company to produce completely inane advertisements followed by long disclaimers?
Just a thought.
Or, maybe we could step back, think about how everyday actions can help that old lady with the cane, our community, our society.
On second thought, let’s just go with the drugs.
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