Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Hate

I flew to Pittsburgh from New York City on Sunday, September 23, the morning of Week 3.  As it turns out, the 2012 edition of the Steelers vs. Raiders saga is one we'd prefer to forget, but let me draw your memory back to that morning so you can put yourself in my shoes for a moment...

Boarding a plane to Pittsburgh is always fun, especially on game day!  I arrived at the airport early, refreshed, and feeling happy and optimistic, as I had received some faith-restoring, superlative reviews for my customer service at the store where I work the day prior, and decided to return that energy to the universe in the form of in-kind compliments and active kindness toward people working similar, under appreciated service jobs.

With this in mind, I approached the first TSA person (the one who checks your ID and your ticket with a lazer before you enter security) with a smile and asked him how he was doing today.  He thanked me while reading my ticket and then looked me in the eye and said, "You aren't really gonna go to Pittsburgh, are you?"

I assured him I was. He said, "You don't live there, do you?"

I said no I do not.  He said, "You aren't from Pittsburgh, are you?"

I said yes I am.  With growing disgust he said, "You aren't a Steelers fan, are you?"

I said yes I am.  He said, "I hate that."

I thought, geeze, hate?  Intuitively, I sensed that he was from Baltimore, and that this was an a priori, clinical form of hatred.

TSA guy continued:  "I hate the Steelers and I hate Pittsburgh.  I hate that you're from Pittsburgh.  Right now, what I can do for you is I can change your ticket to Buffalo, Baltimore, anywhere you want to go other than Pittsburgh.  Cause you don't want to go there."

I assured him, "I do want to go to Pittsburgh today", and he interjected, "Cause I'm from Baltimore and I hate Pittsburgh."

I just made a baffled look and said, "Ok, have a nice day!", and proceeded to security.  I thought about how I had consciously approached him in a positive way, and in return had received blatantly hateful, unprofessional service.  For being so hateful, I was struck by how unemotional the whole exchange had felt.

After passing through security, I had an hour to kill, so I logged on to FB to see all the good news and the first thing that came up was this post by Hines Ward:

I could NOT BELIEVE what I was reading!  A sort of simultaneous, shared experience with Hines Ward.  I couldn't believe that anyone would bother hating on me for merely traveling to Pittsburgh, when there was Hines Ward in the flesh in Baltimore out there to hate.  

There was unprecedented response to Hines' post...people were really galvanizing on both sides over his experience--59K "likes" and over 13K comments.

Thinking back, the interaction with TSA guy still baffles me.  When do TSA guys or ladies ever talk personally to anyone at a busy airport, let alone tell you they hate you?

I think Baltimore is pretty awesome, and although I only visited for a day or two during my 6th grade class trip, I usually recommend it to people as a down-to-earth, working class town, not dissimilar from Pittsburgh.  It has the world's most fantastic manta ray aquarium exhibit, I am certain.  We all benefit from the Steelers/Ravens rivalry, don't we?Wouldn't the AFC North be a snooze fest without the Steelers/Ravens?

Is hate the same as love?

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