Give Them A Little Power

And I’m back from DC. What a crazy week of stuff and things and even snow.

snow washington dc

Speaking of DC, if you were craving visiting a city where you feel like Big Brother is monitoring your every move and rifling through your stuff every other minute, this is the place. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the city is well worth the visit despite a constant barrage of metal detectors, x-ray machines and watchful eyes. I understand why they have to take that precaution. But it doesn’t mean I have to like feeling criminalized.

And as I said before, at the end of the day you get to enjoy sights like these.


But two things irked me, the first could happen anywhere. The second probably does happen anywhere, but after a week of feeling criminalized, it came to me as no surprise that all of our politicians on both sides of the political spectrum could fall prey to corruption. Quite easily.

I don’t see what’s so hard about being decent to people since 99% of people you encounter are reasonable, decent human beings. I suppose the power of fame or force makes it possible to be less accountable to those who don’t have that power (aka rude, mean, nasty, etc.)


Typically I loathe celebrities. They are typically the worst abusers of “power.” Go to any kind of pop culture convention (say Comic Con, for example) and you’ll see this abuse of power in action regularly. Here you have a group of people who are saying to celebrities, “We admire and love your work. We came to celebrate what you’ve given us.” And often the celebrity response is sneers, eye rolls, and sometimes ugly disdain.

That’s not always the case. There are celebs that appreciate who is providing them with all those millions. And those people are the ones I tend to admire the mostβ€”the ones who show a little appreciation and humility.

But back to DC. At Mt. Vernon they try to go all out with costumes and feel of the place. We encountered a colonial-period soldier playing the piccolo which really set the mood. And he also offered directions and advice on what to see.

Enter Fake George Washington.

He’s trying to stay in character. I get that. So when I said, “Hey, Mr. President!” and he responded, “Hay is for horses,” I gave him my obligatory amused laugh just like I gave all my English teachers who thought the first 538 times were so cute they’d go for a 539th. Rather than encounter more grammar nazism, I made sure to up the language.

I knew he’d call me out on “cans” so I followed up with, “Might I get a picture with you?” After all, I heart the real George Washington big time, and having attended many, many Comic-Cons I can appreciate a legit costume.

So he says, “I don’t know if you can,” and gestures to my friend. “Is it possible?”

I hate to inform you, FGW, but might is the past tense version of may which is what your grammar nazi-ness was looking for. *le sigh* Ever have those moments where suddenly you don’t want something anymore, but you grab it because … I don’t know why. Because you do? Because you don’t want to throw the same snobbery back in their face?

Fake George Washington may be a total doof (my hip substitute for another word and shortened version of doofus), but I hold out hope the real George Washington might and could leave a far better impression with people who admire him.


I believe we were in the Gallery of Art checking out a newly acquired Van Gogh (I believe it was the Green Wheat Fields) among other exhibits when one of the rent-a-cops in a more accusatory than informatory tone says, “Excuse me! You can’t be doing that in here!”

“Huh?” I say.

“Your bag. It has to be on the side or in front. You might bump and damage the paintings.”

First of all, my purse is about the size of an iPad. It was also hanging at hip-length, which is well below the frames of any of the art. But it was hanging more on the back of me at that time, so I just say, “Okay,” and move it to the side, then continue on.

“No!” Doof continues. “It has to be on the side or the front.”

I glance down at my side, a bit puzzled. “Isn’t this the side?”

“Excuse me!” he barks. “Excuse me! You have to listen to me. You have to listen. Are you going to listen? You have to listen.”

It takes all my will power not to eye roll myself to death. You’d think I’d just spit in this guy’s face for how upset he was over the exact placement of my bag. At this juncture I knew I had a choice to make. I could keep arguing with him and ask him why he was getting to upset, though if we’re being honest my motivation would have probably been to embarrass him over his ridiculous outburst. I knew with how much he was trying to prove how much power he had taking it to the next level would probably result in my being kicked out of the museum. (Seriously, this dude was fiercely angry.) But I had the BFF with me who really wanted to see a few more paintings and rather than causing a possible problem for her, I turned on my fake nice voice.

Inside I’m rolling my eyes repeatedly, but I spout compliant-sounding statements to hopefully get this guy to calm down. I move my bag so it’s basically hanging over the center of the front of my body and when he’s done displaying his testosterone, the BFF and I move on.

The BFF is just as confused as I was. “So you moved your bag when he asked you to, why did he keep yelling at you?”

“Because it wasn’t moved enough I guess.” And maybe the doof is used to people cowering before him? I don’t know. I’m guessing he was compensating for some inadequacy in his own life that he had to take out on some bystander and I guess that had to be me.

Give them a little power and they think they own the world.


At the end of the day every experience can be and should be a learning experience. So what is the lesson to be learned here from both situations? Don’t be a doof is an obvious one. But since a lot of us are aspiring to be very successful writers, I always use situations like these to remind myself that if I’m ever very well known to always treat fans with the dignity and respect they deserve. They are the ones spending the money on the art I’ve created.

I know there are those awkward fans who can be a bit annoying, but aren’t we all a bit annoying sometimes? Respect the fans and they’ll respect you. I think that’s why Joss Whedon does so well. He respects his fans and he gets them.

And try to judge people as innocent until proven guilty. People probably don’t know they’re bothering you or whatever it is unless you tell them. Rent-A-Cop could have said something like, “Excuse me, ma’am, could I get you to wear your bag closer to the front. We don’t want any of the art damaged. I’d appreciate your help in preserving all of our great pieces.” That’s how we should start. Assume the best, deal with the worst if it comes.

Have you ever encountered people who abused their power? How do you deal with them? If you have them, how do you deal with those awkward fans? Do you have ways to keep yourself in check should fame come your way? Anything else you’d like to add?


14 thoughts on “Give Them A Little Power

  1. I was at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on Saturday and got in trouble a few times with the art museum guards. They were at least polite about explaining the rules. It still wasn’t fun. Luckily, they have a a coat check area that’s free so you can drop off your bag without hitting any paintings.

    • I don’t mind being reminded of the rules, just not fond of doofs looking to prove their “superiority.” But glad they were at least polite to you. I’m wondering if I reminded my doof of someone he’d had a bad encounter with and that’s why he got all in my face.

      • Maybe the security guard was friends with Fake George Washington, and they both decided you were uncool.

        Have you ever been to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, with the walk of fame? I live an hour or two north of Los Angeles, so I’ve been several times with friends from out of state.

        The whole area is covered with fake-super heroes and celebrities. There are usually at least three Michael Jacksons at various stages in his life. They all stand around, getting people to pass them cash to take a picture with them.

        It seems to me Fake George Washington’s grammar policeness is preferable to a rotund Spiderman in spandex and a bad mask stalking your friend.

  2. I agree that doof #2 definitely was taking something out on you. As for doof #1, I think he’s conditioned to respond the way he did (not thinking and reacting as par for the course).

    I haven’t been to DC in ages. When I was a kid, I swear it didn’t feel big brothery. Maybe it changed due to everything’s that happened. Or maybe my parents avoided the big brother areas because they were too much hassle (like the Empire State Building in NY city).

    • I’m sure it’s because of 9/11. But pretty much everything you want to do is like the Empire State Building, or the airport.

      I’m sure you’re right about both doofs. Most people would say can vs may. And he’s probably been through that routine a million times.

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