I witness examples of entitlement frequently, but don't bother to mention because that's the unfortunate "default" these days.
I interview kids for college: half of them are respectful, and then other half seem to believe they've already gotten in (and so wonder what I can provide them to get them to select my Ivy-League alma mater, rather than the other way around.) I see people cut in line because they "have to be somewhere" (or they provide no excuse at all.)
Yes, I notice entitlement on a daily basis. But this weekend, two events really angered me:
Saturday night, a group of teenagers revved up behind my car, nearly hitting it. They then backed off, and did it again a few more times to scare me. They flashed their lights over and over again. Of course I pulled over to let them pass. I was going well over the speed limit, so this wasn't a case of me driving too slowly under "normal" circumstances. Nope, these kids were definitely more important than me, and had to race off to wherever they were going. As such, I felt like a doormat as I sat on the side of the road waiting for an opening so I could merge back onto the road. (Huh, I wonder if I'll end up interviewing one of those kids? I'd never know, of course.)
I was delayed while the aggressive teens got to speed off to their destination. They got what they wanted at my expense. (If I had braked while they hovered at my bumper, I could have gotten into an accident. It could have been much worse.)
Sunday morning, my family had brunch at a restaurant where my parents and brother had once seen Sheryl Sandberg. They recalled her party had been extremely loud, but nobody bothered to ask them to quiet down, presumably because of who she is. (Why should that matter? Do we not expect decent behavior from everyone, regardless of their "status?")
Well, yesterday, a very large group of people (taking up three tables) abruptly left before their food had arrived. (One member of the party found a dead rat near her chair. This was in the outdoor seating area of an establishment in a wooded area, so the implication of a deceased rodent is quite different than if it were in an indoor urban joint.) As they left, one man yelled out to his mother that she was carrying his father's cane. Rather than approach her, he continued to yell. One person said something to the effect of you don't have to yell, and he responded, "I don't know these people! They don't know me!" Of course he then continued to bark instructions to his mother.
The implication: these people don't matter. I can disrupt their brunch by yelling because these people aren't going to benefit me. I don't need to impress them to get ahead.
Earlier in our brunch experience, this same man had bellowed across the restaurant, "We are ready to order!" to summons his waiter. I found the service at this place to be exceptionally quick (we actually had to turn away the waiter several times because we were still deciding on our food!), so it is unlikely that much time had passed at all between when this man was given his menu and when he determined he needed to be taken care of NOW.
It frustrates me that people like this man seem completely oblivious to whether their actions affect others. He didn't care that his loud voice might disrupt other diners. My experience was not any of his concern.
After his party left, there was some confusion with the meals, since all of a sudden many orders were no longer needed. As a result, my family's order didn't all come out at the same time. Thankfully, the restaurant fixed it rapidly, but they specifically cited the sudden departure of the large party as the reason for the mix-up.
My family's experience at brunch was affected by this man. He was free to behave as he pleased, at my family's expense.
Thankfully, being slightly delayed on the road or inconvenienced at brunch is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but the culture of "I don't care about you" is scary.
Of course I know this, because nobody helped me when I was choking during Disney on Ice. When I think back on that experience, I shudder with fear. I could have died, and nobody cared. I worry for if something happens in the future while I am unconscious and therefore unable to help myself.
In fact, I passed out in a public bathroom while pregnant with my first son. I don't know how many people walked by me, probably just assuming I was drunk, rather than asking me if I needed assistance. (When I finally came-to, I trudged to my office, vomited in my boss' trash can, and thankfully recruited a co-worker to accompany me to the ER, where I was deemed severely dehydrated.) In the same vein, I once called an ambulance for a man who appeared to have had a stroke. Passersby seeing me attend to the man rolled their eyes and told me he was probably just intoxicated. Both of these incidents were in New York City: are there just so many drunk/drugged people there that the assumption is substance-abuse-by-default rather than someone needing acute medical attention?
Nobody helped me. And, people mocked me for trying to help someone else.
Sure, I've heard some nice heart-warming stories of strangers coming to the aid of other strangers. I know there are some good people in the world. (In fact, I have an amazing friend who just offered to give my son a ride tonight. Such a "simple" thing can mean quite a lot!) I also know there are a lot of people who don't necessarily go out of their way to help, but at least they don't try to hurt.
And then there are those who blatantly plow over others for their own gain. Why should they be so entitled?
I hate that I am powerless. I cannot reprimand them as I would a toddler, since no doubt they would "win" any sort of escalation since they don't care about what happens to me.
I hate that people are rewarded for "me-first" behavior, since by default, they benefit from pushing people around to get their way. There are no obstacles if you don't care who you hurt in the process. It is truly sickening.