I saw the guy from ten yards away, he had his back turned and took up the entire aisle. I coughed hoping he would hear me, but nothing happened. He was talking to the two guys in front of him. I didn’t care but I pushing my grocery cart and needed to get around him. When the guys didn’t say anything about moving out of the way, I coughed again and then said, “excuse me.”
The guy turned around, glared down at me, and said, “All you had to do was say something.”
I wanted to say something back, but it felt like a standoff and I needed to move onto other errands. However, I feel like I come across people like him all the time now who are caught up in their own little worlds, can see only ten inches in front of their own face, and are oblivious to others.
I’m no psychiatrist and I haven’t spent years counseling patients, but I’m definitely seeing a trend of more people living in their own selfish, little worlds, and saying the hell with anyone else in their way.
A day after this instance, I stopped to get gas and went inside to grab a soda. When I was leaving, a woman opened the door from the other side, but was turned and talking to her friend, not really entering, but also blocking the path for the young father in front of me who was struggling, trying to carry his baby and a bag of snacks. Finally, the woman moved out of the way so that the man could pass. I get being friendly and opening doors, but she certainly wasn’t trying to help the young man or me, her friendliness only traveled one way.
Lights, camera, action
Okay, I get it, we are all heads down. In fact, the advice I give young short story writers is to remember that everyone is the star of their own play or movie. No one signs up to be a wingman or to play Robin, they sign up to play Batman. In their minds, they are the star.
But I see obliviousness everywhere now. I see it on the highway. Drivers talking animatedly with their passenger while they hang out in the left lane barely going fast enough for the lane. I see it in the office too. People forgetting to give credit or recognize others who’ve helped them.
Looking out for the other guy
Situational awareness is about knowing what is going on around you including: where you are; where you are supposed to be; and whether anyone around you is a threat to your health and safety. There are different levels and degrees and a lot of other “gobbledygook” that’s too complicated for my simple brain, but it deals with being cognizant of your surroundings and being prepared to react.
Two common examples:
- If you’re driving a car on the highway, you should be aware of other drivers and try to anticipate someone slamming on their brakes or swerving into your lane.
- If you’re walking alone at night, you should be aware of what’s going on around you and be prepared to react if you perceive a threat.
The time has come
In my own little world, I’ve found that Situational Awareness has become rare. I suspect I’m aware of the loss because when God was handing it out, I got confused and jumped in line twice. I’m a people pleaser and very much aware of the people around me and the messages that others give off:
- “Oh, you’re cold, let me turn up the heat.”
- “You’ve got the latest best seller, what do you think of the book?”
- “You’re trying to get through here, let me move this box.”
I think Situational Awareness has fallen victim to the crazy politics of the day, but my hope is that society will come back to recognize it the same way it now appreciates and values emotional intelligence.
Hopefully one day.