A Confrontation

A while back, I found myself in an airplane, sitting directly behind a man who was wearing an offensive t-shirt. While I’d have been less than thrilled to see anyone sporting clothing of this nature, it really bothered me to see a guy my age, displaying this kind of sexually explicit attire.

There may be a wise reader out there who would say that I should have simply ignored the guy, and others might suggest that my concern for a middle-aged man’s mode of dress is a form of misdirected aggression. They may be right, of course, but I prefer to think that, like many citizens, I am concerned with the “coarsening of the culture” and feel a certain responsibility, as a teacher, to address these kinds of issues in some small way, whenever I can.

I’ll cut to the chase: I decided that the best place to confront my fellow passenger would be in the baggage claim area of the airport. That way, in case it got ugly, we could both – ok, ok, I — could flee the scene of the crime.

Let me also freely admit that, I was somewhat heartened by the fact that my fellow pilgrim was not exactly a dead ringer for either Clint Eastwood or Hulk Hogan. (Something tells me that, if this were the case, I’d opt to send a very heated email from an anonymous email address.)

Anyway, after securing my luggage, I gingerly approached my counterpart and asked, “Do my mind if I ask you a question?” (In conversations as in classes, it’s often helpful to begin with a question.) When he nodded, I continued, “Do you feel at all sheepish about wearing a shirt like that because I have to tell you, if my kids were with me, it would really bother me to see you wear that.”

He looked at me for a quick second and said, “Yes. Now that you mention it, I am a little self-conscious.” With that, he put his jacket on and walked away.


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