Are People More Entitled Than Ever?

Are people more entitled than ever or am I just getting old and cranky? I nearly lost my mind when an episode of what I’m calling an “Engorged Sense of Entitlement” unfolded before my eyes at my daughter’s swimming lesson.

Our local pool is stupid freezing so when lessons ended, my little swimmer had blue lips and icy skin. There are only four shower stalls in the locker room—one was broken and the other three were occupied, so we waited to rinse and warm up. Several minutes went by and my daughter continued to wait and shiver. The three mothers waiting in front of the occupied shower stalls stood stone faced, avoiding eye contact though they were fully aware of us standing right behind them. 

They didn’t encourage their daughters to hurry even though others were obviously waiting (by this time a long line had formed behind us). Instead they told their girls to scrub their hair and clean behind their ears. These kids were taking their full bedtime shower complete with shampoo, conditioner, and a leisurely soak. We waited over ten minutes before one curtain finally parted and a girl stepped out.

My daughter hopped in and was in and out in under three minutes because WE KNEW OTHER KIDS WERE WAITING! Hello, common courtesy in a public space people!

When we returned to our locker to dress the change rooms were all occupied except one—it was empty with the exception of a bag sitting on the middle of the bench inside the stall. There was nobody around so I escorted my daughter inside and gently pushed aside the bag while she dressed. I left the door slightly ajar so if the owner of the bag returned she wouldn’t think we were going through her stuff. The mother did indeed return with her daughter (who had just finished her marathon shower).

The woman pushed open the door and said curtly, “This is OUR change room.” She had called dibs on the stall with her daughter’s bag. Did she not see the signs in the hallway and in each stall that clearly says saving change rooms with personal items is not permitted? The fact they needed to post signs at all indicates this must be an ongoing problem.

As she stared me down I felt a mixture of intimidation and outrage. She didn’t flinch. Entitled people rarely flinch. I actually questioned myself—maybe I shouldn’t have used the “saved” change room?? I’m kicking myself now at that momentary lack in confidence. 

I encouraged Avery to hurry, which she did to the best of her ability. She needs to sit on a bench (which are only available inside the change rooms) to put on her shoes and socks. But this mother continued to glare and mutter under her breath so I relented and guided my daughter out of the change room, with no acknowledgement from the mother other than a parting dirty look. To be honest, it would’ve been so satisfying to snap her with the wet towel I had draped over my arm. 

As we came out of the stall a door to another change room opened. Perfect. I directed Avery to go sit on the bench in that one. But before she could get there, non-flinching mother told her son to “Go grab that change room!” I kid you not. She wanted one for each of her children. Entitled times infinity. 

My child has a disability. She needs to sit to be able to safely dress and undress and put on her shoes and socks. This mother could obviously see this. However, her behaviour was straight up rude in any situation, disability or not. 

Oh, and lest you think I’m a complete doormat, I stepped in front of the child sent scrambling to claim the second change room. I blocked his route so Avery could step inside and take her rightful seat on the bench to put on her damn shoes and socks. 

I looked the mother in the eye and said, “You can use this change room when we’re done.” She looked confused. It wasn’t quite a flinch, but I’ll take it. 

This level of entitlement boggles my mind. It’s just one small example of the selfish behaviour I seem to encounter everywhere I turn these days. Go to Costco on a Saturday and you’ll see it for yourself.

Where is the community? Where is the sharing and turn taking we learned in kindergarten? 

Is this behaviour getting worse? Or maybe it’s always been this way and I’m just noticing it more? Perhaps it’s one of those, “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it” situations. 

In any case, I’m not going to let it bother me (truth be told, it REALLY bothered me). Instead I’ll continue to set the right example for my kids. I’ll give up my seat on the subway. I’ll make space for the car signalling to merge into my lane. I’ll hold doors open. I’ll remind my daughter to shower quickly because others are waiting. And we won’t use our swim bags to save a change room because…rude. 

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