I've commented before on the so-called rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox, which fosters the nastiest behavior in people from both cities - my native home, and my adopted one. Because I live in Boston, I've seen more bad behavior by Red Sox fans, but I've never doubted that my own compatriots could be just as venomous. I witnessed an interaction a week or two ago that made me ashamed to be a Yankees fan.
One lovely Sunday morning I visited a bagel shop in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the Berkshire mountains in the south-western corner of the state. Great Barrington is a town that attracts a lot of weekenders, for skiing in the winter and just enjoying country air in the summertime. Unlike Lenox and North Adams and other Berkshire towns north of the Mass Pike (Interstate 90), which tend to attract visitors from Boston, Great Barrington's weekenders are largely, though not exclusively, New Yorkers. The locals, though, are thoroughly New England.
In the bagel shop, a young woman behind the counter asked to take my order. But the fellow in line in front of me, who had already placed his order, wasn't through with her. She was wearing a Red Sox t-shirt, and he - a sixty-or-so year-old man with a gold watch and a Yankees cap - was aggressively haranguing her. The tenor of his comments was that she should watch out, because even though the Yankees were some ten games back in the standings, the Red Sox (and by extension their fans) were nevertheless existentially inferior and could therefore expect a calamitous fall in the near future.
Or something like that. I was trying to place my order, and the young woman behind the counter was trying to take it, and we weren't really interested in obnoxious baseball banter at that early hour. Another young woman was trying to complete the fellow's order, but he didn't care - he was too busy yelling more and more aggressively at the poor employee opposite me.
Finally I turned to him and said, "Do you mind?" This stunned him into silence. The woman trying to take my order said, "Thank you so much for saying something - we aren't allowed to."
"I'm a Yankees fan," I answered. "He's just an ass."