Patience and Politeness
January 29, 2007
I stopped at my favorite convenience store for my morning caffeine, and, as I was paying for my Diet Coke, a man stepped up to the register next to me. The cashier was doing something with her back turned, so my cashier quietly called, “Sylvia.”
Before Sylvia had a chance to turn around, the customer snapped, “Hurry up, Sylvia! I haven’t got all day.”
My instant thought was, “How rude! What a jerk.” and I spent the rest of my commute thinking of things I should have said or wished I could have said to make Sylvia feel better and put that man in his place. Then I started thinking about the customer. I have no idea if he meant to be so rude, or if he thought he was being funny. I wonder if he realized just how bad it made him look.
I have never seen the harm in a little bit of patience and politeness, even when I am receiving less than satisfactory service. Assertiveness has its place, but I think people spend too much time worrying about their rights, or if they are being inconvenienced.
Society has drilled it into our heads that nobody should be allowed to trample on our “rights” to the point it seems like we forget that other people have rights, too, like the right to be treated courteously. These days, if you let someone “take advantage” of you, it’s considered a weakness, if not a major character flaw. I wonder if it made that customer feel superior to put the cashier in her place. Did he feel proud of himself for standing up for his “right” to instantaneous service? Sadly, he probably did. He certainly put a damper on the day for every person within earshot. I wonder if he’s proud of himself for having such an impact on the day for the rest of us. Sadly, he probably is.
As for me, I will continue to do my best to practice patience and politeness. If it means people think I’m weak or allowing others to “take advantage” of me, so be it. I don’t want anybody thinking of me the way I thought about that man.