See also: That’s a Horrible Title, and This One Isn’t Much Better.
I like to think of myself as a people person. I also was taught strict etiquette since I was very young, and while I don’t hold myself or others to every single standard known to Emily Post, I do pretty frequently see things that I think we’re letting go of too soon. Things that make the world a much friendlier place, a place worth living in.
I’ve written about it before, this overwhelming wave of entitlement that seems to be gripping folks of my generation, and I firmly believe that’s most of it. That combined with a lack of taught-empathy, the need to see other folk’s perspectives. I think we’re too often self-centered.
I also know that I’m not blameless here, either. BECAUSE I’M HUMAN TOO.
But, alas, here’s a couple of things that I think we could all make sure we do and it would start a chain reaction of loveliness. Or, at the very least, it would make me significantly less stabby.
Smile. Seriously. When people ask me how I am at work, I ALWAYS answer, “I’m happy to be here!” and I smile broadly. They can take from it what they like – they often assume I’m sarcastic – but in reality, I am. I’m happy to be at work, happy to be receiving a paycheck, and as I’ll tell them openly, I believe in “fake it till you make it”. If you pretend to be happy, chances are .. you’ll be happy. Maybe just happy(ish) and not full-on happy, but still. SMILE AT EACHOTHER. In the hallways at work. When you pass someone in the grocery aisle. When you merge lanes in traffic. Speaking of that..
The Thank-You Wave. The way that I go home necessitates me merging into HEAVY traffic via an entry-ramp. That is right next to a stoplight. Which means, daily, I have to rely on the courtesy of other people – who are just as eager to get home – allowing me in. So, daily, I throw up the thank you wave when they allow me in. And daily, people seem surprised. You guys know this, right? The Thank You Wave? It encourages further nice behavior to have their good deed acknowledged. So between my using a blinker AND a Thank You Wave, I hope I cancel out the douche in front of me who almost caused a wreck because his non-blinker and non-acknowledgement of any other drivers around him meant certain disaster.
Pedestrians are People Too. We are not a city that experiences a lot of foot-traffic, so I assume drivers don’t really understand the basic pedestrian rules in downtown areas. Which is fine. But last night, a lady almost hit me and my son as we crossed in a crosswalk in front of our local Target. She had slowed for the speedbump a good ten feet away as we entered the crosswalk, so I assumed she would let us pass. But no, that white BMW sedan with the brunette cougar-looking driver got so close to me her bumper grazed my shin. Sure, kicking her car was PROBABLY not the right answer, but it’s not even like Tony and I were dawdling in the crosswalk. AND A CROSSWALK MEANS I CAN WALK AS SLOWLY AS I LIKE. Also, it means I’ll kick your fancy BMW if you come up on me. You’re lucky I had my kid with me, otherwise I’d have met you at your window, you sour bitch.
This is America; we can all think different things. My thinking differently is not threatening you or your right to think differently. We’re swiftly entering the campaign season, and I see it happening around us. We will be entering another volatile election this year, and people tend to get scared and below-the-belt during that kind of turmoil. I will be the first to admit that I appreciate good, solid debate, but calling me names because I have different ideologies than you do seems counter-productive and probably not what we based this country on when we started it. If you’re one of those people who are so impassioned by their politics that they cannot deal with other viewpoints, and that’s FINE and I’m GLAD that you’re that impassioned, but maybe you should look at appropriate forums to voice those. My office is not one of them. Neither is around my children. Unless you can have a civil discussion that takes into account all sides, perhaps you best save that kind of talk for your kitchen table.
Try talking to eachother. Someone stopped by my office yesterday and said, “I started to write you an email and then I thought She’s just five feet away!, so here I am.” In our techie world, we’re moving away from interaction with people on a face-to-face level, and I think that’s part of what’s causing our rampant lack of empathy. Seeing facial expressions, noticing body language, and hearing tone of voice can teach you SO much about other people. For instance, if I were to write a blog about my life for the last eight month, I might be able to convey some of it through words. But I’d more accurately paint the picture if you could watch me read the same words or tell you the same story. If you’re angry or upset, I can understand wanting to convey it through writing – I am that person, as a matter of fact, who likes to have my thoughts carefully planned out. But there is SO much to be said for actual contact.
Okay, what am I missing here? What facet of humanity do you think we’re letting go of too soon?