shame & public intoxication
On a flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis/St. Paul, there were 3 young people behind me who were just barely old enough to legally drink alcoholic beverages. Over the course of an hour or two, they drank all the vodka on the plane, then switched to another liquor, getting louder and more obnoxious as they went. As their language became more profane, I grew more annoyed. Finally, in response to some kind of wisecrack from hir drunken friend, one said, “don’t embarrass me!” I turned my head and said over the seat, “actually, you’re doing a pretty good job of that yourself.” They were *much* quieter from that point forward. The woman next to me whispered, “thank you.” The youth immediately behind me pressed hir knees into my seat a few times, and said just-loud-enough comments about my bald spot, but they were much less annoying for the final hour of the flight.
Now, I wish I had spoken to them earlier, asking them politely, instead of shaming them—and I do not know if it would have worked, anyway. I think it’s easier to ignore a request than it is to ignore the powerful emotion of shame.
Second, I wonder how much one’s upbringing and culture play into this. Had they grown up in families where shouting and public use of obscenities were common, would they have been shamed by my comment?
I still feel guilty about ruining their good time, and about resorting to shame to quiet them. Was this an appropriate use of shame?