08 April 2010

Veggie platters and honking

Julian Sanchez | Vegetarians of the World, Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your GVP!

The NYU debate team had, as you might expect, quite a few vegetarians on it. And as a result, something like a third of our table at the banquet for the national parilamentary debate championships one year ended up staring glumly at—surprise, surprise!—our old friend the [Grilled Vegetable Plate]. And despite the combative reputation of debaters, when the head caterer (or whatever) at the venue came around to ask how everything was, most of us just tried to nod politely as we gnawed on our flavorless hunks of soggy broccoli. Except Aaron. She was already bustling off when he piped up—and I still remember this damn near verbatim:
Excuse me, wait a second. It’s actually not OK. This is not a meal; it’s totally unacceptable. Nobody put any thought or preparation into this at all, it’s just unseasoned vegetables. It’s embarrassing. Take this back and tell them to send out—whatever, some pasta, maybe something with a sauce or some actual flavors in it—but some kind of real meal.
The woman turned absolutely crimson and hustled off with the GVP, then returned about ten minutes later with a pretty damn delicious looking pasta dish. The rest of us exchanged envious glances as we prodded our GVPs with our forks.

Was it a little rude? Maybe, but so is feeding people livestock slop.
Dude, I don't find that rude. If you ask if everything is okay you need to be prepared for everything to not be okay. The options for response are not limited to "Mmmmmm, yes, this is excellent!" and remaining stoically silent. Points to Aaron for having the agates to pipe up.

I'm no vegetarian by a long shot, so I don't care if people raise a hue about tasteless vegetable platters in particular.  But I am all for people speaking up when something is amiss rather than opting to "not cause a scene."*

I can't find a link now, but I saw much praise for some shirts a couple of days ago that said "Honk Less" on them. The commenter thought they were all enlightened and were a small step making the world a better place.

Screw that. Honk more.

Don't honk just because you're stuck in traffic and you're frustrated. The universe does not respond to loud noises. But if someone cuts you off, or blocks an intersection, or acts like a general jerkoff on the road, give 'em the horn. Let some negative reinforcement flow. Maybe throw an angry fist shake in there, as I am known to do.

People feel anonymous and safe from criticism when they're in their cars.** Let them know that someone out there saw what they did and disapproves strongly enough to raise a ruckus about it.

* Caveat: if the scene in question would actually be more severe than the fault you're trying to address then bite your tongue.  And always make your scenes in a way that disrupts innocents around you as little as possible.  But still: say something.

** Don't believe me? I've seen several times as many people picking their noises in stopped cars than I have in every other situation combined. Those people feel insulated from social pressure.

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