On Wednesday, I heard a domestic disturbance outside of my window. Although I should have been studying for my Czech test the next day, I could not resist listening to what was happening. Apparently, an English speaking man was upset that there were construction workers outside doing their jobs. Perhaps it was too noisy or they were in his way, I’m not quite sure. He was getting in their faces, and, trying to do their jobs, they pushed him out of the way. Apparently, he fell into his wife, and, in the process, she was pushed as well. The man became quite upset and started to call the workers “animals”. Obviously, they had no idea what he was saying, but he continued to yell at them. He called the police, and when they arrived, there was obviously nothing they could do. The workers were only doing their jobs, and it was clearly not their fault. The English speaker would not have this. He yelled at the policemen, speaking single words like “man”, “push”, “punish”, “animals”, etc as if saying isolated nouns would be more comprehensible than complete sentences. Every once in a while, he would throw in a Czech word, but his method of trying to explain the situation was ridiculous. He kept yelling at the pusher “You, HUMAN!” apparently trying to tell him to act like a person and not push people. Looking at the scene from above, it was obvious who the real animal was.
Situations like this highlight the arrogance of us “Americans”. I use quotes because the term itself is arrogant. We use this word that applies to two continents, not just fifty states. The word itself describes the typical “American”. Our exaggerated sense of importance and belief that we are always right is what makes other people look at us in distaste. The man’s refusal to try to speak civilly with the police men in Czech and his continued behavior toward the construction makers gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I know that his behavior gives all citizens from the United States a bad name. Luckily, I knew enough Czech to tell the construction workers that I agreed with them, but can my small act toward solidarity make up for the behavior that I have frequently witnessed in my fellow countrymen?