Sometimes people do questionable things.
Apply your term of choice- whether it’s ‘cringeworthy’, ‘douche chills’, or ‘just plain awkward’, when we see it or hear about it we usually wish we hadn’t. Sunday night was one of those moments.
I went to a national chain sports bar/restaurant with Googs to watch the WWE “Tables Ladders and Chairs” Pay-Per-View. Believe it or not, that’s not the cringeworthy part yet. And it was a Buffalo Wild Wings, I don’t know why I’m being coy.
While others were there to watch the WWE event, most were tuned in to the New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers Sunday Night Football game. Just before kickoff, embattled NBC announcer Bob Costas made it known that the President was about to make a speech addressing the Newtown tragedy. When Obama’s telecast began, NBC would switch over from the football game to air the speech, while game coverage would move to CNBC until the conclusion of the presidential address.
I turned to Googs and said something like this:
This is gonna be interesting. No one came to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the President give a speech. Knowing this, does the bar switch over to the game? It’s a sticky situation- if I worked here, I wouldn’t want to be the bartender/server who flipped the switch from NBC to CNBC, effectively saying “F the President, F those kids, F current events – I been waitin’ all day for Sunday Night!“. Cringeworthy.
The game began. As planned, moments after the opening kickoff NBC jumped over to coverage of Obama’s speech. The bar left it on. Good move. But here comes another tell-tale juncture: who’s gonna be the asshole to get up and ask their bartender or server to change it over to the game?
For the next 15 minutes, we reserved judgement on the state of bar-going America. Not because we consciously held off, but because the President’s speech was captivating, moving, and perfect.
It seemed like everyone in the building was dutifully paying attention, absorbing his words, appreciating the moment, and respecting those affected by the tragedy. At least we thought everyone was respecting the moment.
When Obama’s speech came to an end, NBC switched back to Patriots-49ers coverage.
A man at the bar clapped loudly.
Allow me to summarize: The President had just addressed nation, speaking about the unspeakable death of 26 people, mostly 6-7 year olds, that occurred less than 60 hours ago. In his speech he listed the names of every child who was killed. His address interrupted coverage of a football game. When the speech ended and the coverage resumed, a man applauded.
For a second I looked around. Part of me was searching for other people’s reactions to this guy, another part of me silently hoping his clapping wouldn’t be contagious and start the worst round of applause ever. Thankfully, it began and ended with him.
It pissed me off in the moment, but it passed. It wasn’t until my drive home that I really started to break down the situation.
I tried to put myself in that guy’s shoes.
Man that must really suck. Being dragged out of the comfort of his home (against his will I’m sure) to the local sports bar to watch his favorite team (who has already qualified for the playoffs) in a pivotal non-conference showdown, only to have this inconsiderate blowhard come on the TV and talk through the first quarter.
You know what else sucks? The second worst school shooting in U.S. history. The worst thing that could possibly happen to countless families in Newtown, Connecticut. The defining moment in the lives of a whole generation of school children.
But yeah, missing 15 minutes of the football game sucks too.
Let’s talk about applause in general for a moment. Why do we clap? To show support for something, naturally. When the thing we’re supporting can’t hear the applause, we’re really just clapping to indicate to those around us who/what we are there to support.
So this guy wants everyone in the building to know he supports Obama getting the fuck off his TV so he can see this football game.
It was a long, loud clap, too. Not one of those ‘two clap-realize no one else is clapping-quickly put your hands away in shame’ claps. He owned it. I’ll give him that.
I’ll bet he didn’t give it a second thought, and probably no one else at the bar did, and that’s what’s embarrassing about it.
Life goes on. The tragedy won’t affect everyone, that’s just the reality of it. But you don’t have to celebrate it. If events like this have no emotional effect on you, just be quiet. Don’t advertise the fact that you’re selfish, disconnected and dead inside.
When I mentally outlined this post, I envisioned ending with some kind of judgmental exclamation point like “Nothing is more American than football, not even grieving for and respecting fellow Americans.”, but luckily in this case my ire is directed at only one idiot.