Accepting Defeat

Something happened today which rather shocked me. As I was queuing for the check-in desk at Málaga Airport, my mum started a conversation with a fellow traveller. She was a middle-aged woman who had recently lost her husband, but continued to travel to the beautiful south coast of Spain just as she did for years before. I tell you this in order to give a bit of background to this charming and polite lady, so that what I tell you next does not seem out of context.

We had been queuing up for around 30 minutes, as we had made a conscious effort to arrive early in order to make it through check-in in good time. As the desk clerks arrived and started to check people in, the queue began to move slowly but surely as most check-in queues do. The queue had bent round in a kind of L-shape as there was a large suitcase plastic wrapping machine preventing us from all queuing in a straight line from the desk. We then noticed that 2 middle-aged men and a woman had pushed in on the bend of the L-shape.

It was at this point that the woman we were next to politely told them that the queue was actually bending round the side and not in the direction that the men thought. One of the men then proceeded to engage in a flurry of verbal abuse saying things like “Oh just fucking back off love” and “Get a fucking life you bitch”. Thankfully and admirably, the lady we were chatting to handled the situation with grace and control and told them that there was no need to use such language in handling the situation.

Although I wish I had intervened as well in support of the lady, the way in which she handled it actually merited no aid whatsoever. But it did get me thinking…

Why did those people react in such an angry, confrontational and abusive way? Was it because they were genuinely deluded and thought that the woman was confronting them? Or was it more plainly the fact that they were shown to be in the wrong and the only way they sought fit to react was by abusing and insulting the woman who did so?

I believe it to be the latter, of course, and I do genuinely believe that our society is divided into people who can handle defeat and those who simply cannot. Now, this has always been the case and will continue to be the case. It’s basic human nature to want to win and not lose. However, what has changed is the way in which we handle such defeat. Rather than simply walking away and then moaning and complaining about it (which most people do), these men chose to make a scene, abuse an innocent individual and make themselves look like a right bunch of tools.

Some go even further in fact, and choose to become confrontational in a physical way. If this had been the case in the situation above, then I would have more than likely stepped in, in defence of the lady. However sometimes emotions and adrenaline can get the better of us, and if the lady being abused had in fact been my mother then I probably would have reacted in a far more volatile and potentially dangerous way, simply due to the fact that I am protective of my family, as most of us are.

It is of the utmost importance, however, that I do not choose to act in a physical way. Nor should anyone for that matter. It remains a problem on both sides of the argument, that we must simply accept defeat and move on. If they had thought “Oh, I bet you we could push in here!”, then clearly their ruse has been sussed out and unfortunately they won’t be able to do that today. If they had thought “Oh, I guess the queue ends here then”, then they were simply being told that this was not the case, and that they should simply go to the back of the queue.

The phrase “put up or shut up” comes to mind with this particular situation. In any case, if it ever happens to you that you are proven wrong in a situation, and that it’s more than likely that you are in fact wrong, then please just accept it and move on. No one will think any littler of you for having made a mistake, in fact they will respect you more if you take the mistake on board and learn from it. It reminds me of a popular ‘gym meme’ that says that people in the gym will respect you more for actually coming in and making mistakes in your technique of lifting weights, rather than not coming into the gym at all.

We, as a society, need to accept that sometimes we get things wrong.

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© Oliver McQuitty 2018