While I was in LA last week, I only encountered one real occurrence of rudeness. We were running late and needed to get our bags from the bellman of the hotel, who had unfortunately gone missing. I asked the concierge, James, if he could get our bags so we wouldn’t miss our flight back to the east coast. He left to get the key and when he asked my friend for our baggage ticket, a woman who was in town for the same conference as me stepped in and said, “I need my luggage.” James said he needed to get our bags first and she responded snidely, “I’ve been waiting here longer than anyone else and should be waited on first. I’m already ridiculously late!” She had not been waiting longer than us, but we both kept tight lipped as James bewilderingly left to get her bags. She left with a smile and without offering him a tip. Then he returned to get our things.
Though I was ready to give her one of my pamphlets, I decided to forgo the opportunity since it would have caused us further delay and further stress for James. Let’s hope she figures out how to be a little nicer next time.
When we get impatient, I think it is important to remember that we don’t know the situation of those beside us and should always consider that they might be in an even greater hurry than we happen to be. This was definitely the case that night and poor James (who was not the bellman in the first place) was put in an uncomfortable position because of it.
I flew to LA today. I’m here right now. It’s sunny, and I like it (compared to the chill of the Northeast). And despite the fact that I am woozy from the cold medicine I’m on and the fact that the pressure in my left ear has not left me in the last six hours, I am going to venture into this post hoping it will make sense. (Cue breath of confidence. And…)
The flight attendant says not to use digital devices like cell phones until further notice. And I look over to my right five hours later and there’s a guy sitting there tapping away at his cell phone. Now yes, we had landed but they hadn’t said to us that these devices were okay since we were still roaming the runways looking for our gate. I mean, come on! I know it might not be harmless, but you never know, especially if 30 other folks have the same idea as this guy. What might this do to the equipment? Are we really this impatient? Wait five minutes! Show some respect for simple, harmless, in-place-for-a-reason rules!
In “Thank You Dr. So-And-So,” I mentioned the importance of paying respect/courtesy to our medical professionals….. After spending a large amount of time in and out of a hospital this last month interacting with doctors, I have to say that many, but not all, doctors need to return the favor.
I know they spend years studying and that many things are boring and old-hat to them, but to the patient the issues are serious and a tremendous concern. Disregarding questions and concerns with a shrug or an irritated look is not only rude and insensitive, it is irresponsible and disrespectful. Who knows what a doctor might learn if they gave the patient a chance to speak? If they didn’t treat the patient like they didn’t know anything?
Many patients like to know what the doctors outside the hospital room are saying to each other about the patient’s case when on their rounds. Why not give them that option? Why do patients have to ask over and over for test results, for answers, for basic post-op care instructions? This can be a problem with “bedside manner” or this can be administrative and commuicative error. Either way, it would make the world a nicer place with a little more patience and information.
Oh, I just read the greatest book! My grandma recommended this one. It is called: “Small Miracles: Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life” by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal. If you are looking for a pick-me-up story, this is a great read. It’s fast and easy to pop through and all the stories are short, so it’s great for a wait in an office, a lunch break, or a daily train commute.
Below is a synopsis of one of the stories from the text, which is a great example of how being courteous on the road can pay off in the short or long run.
A man is driving furiously to an appointment across town for which he is likely to be late. Just as he is entering an expressway, he is cut off by another driver. He rolls down his window and screams obsinities at the other driver. Obviously angered and in a hurry as well, the other driver replies in kind by cutting off the man again and returning with more fervor his own explatives. Suddenly both of them arrive at their destination. They had both been late for their appointments–with each other!
Imagine if this had happened to you all those times you yelled in traffic or shared your favorite finger with your fellow driver! I think this story can remind us all: when we’re behind the wheel, manners don’t go on a sabatical. Take a deep breath when you get angry, focus on driving safely, and just let it go. There are so many things in the world to get angry or stressed about. Why let an inconsiderate (and unsafe!) fool add to your plate? They don’t deserve that kind of attention, do they?\
My friend told me a story one day about a time when she went grocery shopping at a local chain store and was met with some rather rude, impatient behavior. She was walking in the main door just slightly ahead of another woman and got to the row of shopping carts first. She pulled on her shopping cart to break it away from the row, but it wouldn’t budge. She pulled and pulled and jerked but it wouldn’t move. The woman behind her rudely snapped, “Would you hurry up already?” and crossed her arms wearing an angry frown. Finally after numerous hefty tugs, the cart let itself loose from the row and my friend was on her way, but her shopping experience had become overcast with frustration.
I think we’ve all been in a situation like this on both ends: either you are being scowled at for something you can’t help, or you are the one scowling. So in the future, let us all remember to be patient, or even offer to help the person who is having difficulty.
Here are a few other tips pertaining to grocery cart etiquette:
If you arrive first, why not let the person behind you grab their cart first? You can just smile, gesture to the carts, and say, “After you.” Usually people will be grateful, or shocked by the kind mannerism.
First come, first served doesn’t have to apply: if you get to the carts first and someone is behind you, offer the first cart you grab to them, and then take the next one for yourself.
When you finish unloading your groceries into your car, place your cart in the designated area. Be sure to push it into the carts already in the cart-catcher so there is more room for future carts.
I sometimes grab rogue carts from the parking lot on my way to dispose of mine to lessen the task for the cart-collector and to clear up parking spots for other cars. (The other day I drove into a parking lot where the cart-catcher was covered in snow and some thirty carts had completely cluttered up the driveway of the parking lot. That one was a bit too big for me to handle.)
Drive on the right: if we pushed our carts on the right side of the lane while shopping, it might make for smoother shopping excursions.
When you “pull over” to browse a shelf, put your cart as close to the shelves as possible to make room for carts that are just passing through.
Clean out any ads or papers that you left in your cart to keep it clean for its next patron.
If someone is finished unloading their groceries into their car, you can offer to take their cart. This is a nice way to save a stranger the trip to the cart-collector. Just be sure you feel safe in initiating unexpected conversation with a stranger. Also, this doesn’t go the other way: don’t ask someone if they want your newly-emptied cart. That just might seem like you want them to clean up after you.
My Fubby (“future-hubby”–I came up with that name for him after he said he didn’t like being called a fiance) reads the Drudge Report and found a wonderful article posted in the Telegraph (UK) about being polite. In it the author discusses how it seems technology and a self-entitled, want-it-and-get-it-now attitude has caused people to feel that not only can they be impolite, but that they have the right to be rude. Mr. Deacon (the author) wrote that technology has a way of cutting people off from their immediate environment and strangers they pass by. I feel very much the same way. These are some of the exact reasons that I created this blog.
One thing I found most interesting was the part where the author said that people would be rude, citing that they were being “honest,” and those who kept their negative opinions to themselves were considered “two-faced.” Since when is considering your opinion an opinion and keeping it to yourself “two-faced?” Last I remember, the habit of keeping those things to yourself is an exemplary example of the motto, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
You can read the whole article here. I hope that Mr. Deacon’s recommendation to resolve to be a little more polite in 2009 reaches a great number of people.