After a stressful weekend of flat-hunting and hosteling, Aaron and I managed to sign the lease on a flat. It's a one-bedroom, a little further outside the city, but all in all not a bad place. Finding the flat, it turns out, was the easy part. Moving our stuff (from Aaron's cubicle at work) into the flat -- not so much. Moving tends to bring out the worst in me, and at some point during every move I manage to be reduced to tears. This time was no different.
Since we didn't have a place to live when we had to move out of our old flat, we simply packed everything up and stored it at Aaron's work. How to get it there? No problem -- we just called 2 cabs and loaded everything up. We patted ourselves on the back for not accumulating too much stuff in the past year -- we still have little more than the 2 suitcase-fulls of stuff each that came over on the plane with us last year. Easy-peasy.
So we were utterly unprepared for the nightmare that moving our stuff from Aaron's cubicle to our new apartment would turn out to be. We hoisted everything onto the sidewalk outside of Aaron's work and called for two cabs -- same as before. They turned up and promptly informed us that they "don't do removals". Huh? We didn't have that much stuff. They continued to refuse, and left. So we called back the cab company, and were told that they wouldn't move us with all our stuff -- it was too much -- even though they admitted that they did move all our stuff 3 days ago (a mistake apparently). So we grudgingly asked them to send 1 more cab to pick us up with a couple suitcases to get us through the night in our new place. Well, this cab showed up, took one look at our suitcases and refused! Again! Frustrated and wanting to just get home at this point, we asked how much stuff we could
take. The cab driver wouldn't answer us, wouldn't look us in the eye -- just took off. We called back the cab company and were told that they would no longer dispatch cabs to us. After a few choice words we hung up and tried to figure out what to do next. We decided to lug a couple suitcases down the street to a bus stop and take the bus home. The bus pulls up, and -- you guessed it -- refuses to let us on. The bus was too crowded for us and our luggage. So we said goodbye to our pride and hailed a taxi, who was this time, apparently arbitrarily, willing to take us.
So most of our stuff is still stranded in Aaron's cubicle. We can't rent a van (no UK drivers licenses), cabs and buses obviously can't be counted on, and 3 miles is a long way to haul our stuff on foot. We can't get ahold of any movers.
What does all this have to do with hyperindividualism and jerks? Well, pretty much everyone we encountered in our pursuit of moving were jerks. Jerks mostly in the way they treated us, and in the way they did business. It was infuriating but also humiliating and degrading to be treated that way. We certainly didn't invite it. We did nothing wrong, and up until (almost) the very end were polite, courteous, professional.
Which got me to thinking -- why are so many people jerks? It might have just been bad luck this time, but I've been noticing it more and more, here and in Boston. People, especially people you are trying to get goods or services from, tend to be jerks. Not all these people, and not all the time, but a large percentage of them. My best guess is that it's a vicious cycle -- they have jerky customers which in turn makes them act jerky (I can understand how this happens -- I temporarily turned into a jerk myself after all this happened. Why should I be nice to people if they are all jerks? was my anger-adled thinking).
And maybe this is the root of some of our culture's hyperindividualism -- the desire to be as self-sufficient as possible, to never need anyone else. Maybe people want their own cars in large part to avoid interactions with other people/jerks. I would have easily avoided my moving nightmare by owning a car. I would never again have to rely on cab jerks or bus jerks. And it doesn't stop with cars. People stay glued to their TV's every night, maybe in part because they are avoiding going out into the real world where they would have to deal with jerks. And I can see why people buy new appliances/gadgets as soon as the slightest thing goes wrong with the ones they have: you can buy a new one online, without even speaking to another human. You try to call customer service (maybe the biggest jerks of all) to fix something on your laptop and let me know how your blood pressure/migraine situation is after that ordeal.
I don't have the answers to this problem. And maybe its not even really a problem for most people, since most of us strive for that hyperindividualism and so are somewhat insulated from jerks. But in any case, it helped me to write all this down and vent.
So, my advice? Go about your business and try to smile when you encounter a jerk, despite it all. And for heaven's sake, avoid Edinburgh cabs.