Grumpier Miss Manners

Joey Garcia

Why are people so rude? It really bugs me that so many people lack simple social graces, such as holding the door open for the person behind them or saying “Excuse me” when they walk in front of someone in a supermarket aisle. Mostly, at supermarkets, you hear people practically shouting “Excuse me” because someone has left a shopping cart in the middle of the aisle and there is no getting around it. Why are people so self-centered? Don’t they realize they are not the only person at the market? I also don’t understand why people think it is “cute” to allow their sticky-fingered kids to run all over during public events. Why not use the situation to teach children how to behave in public? And why do people stop in doorways to hold conversations? When I interrupt them to enter a business, they act as if I have done something offensive. The most irritating offense, though, is when I am driving and allow someone to merge into my lane and they fail to respond with a little “Thank you” wave. I am hoping by writing you, the people in the Sacramento area will get a clue and start behaving more politely.

Oh, dear! I am sorry to inform you that expecting people to drop the narcissism bred into them by American culture in favor of an attitude of Namaste is, well, hopeless. Even people who say “Namaste” (the Divine in me greets the Divine in you) don’t live it consistently and that, my friend, is the price of being human. That’s right; it’s likely you fail, at times, to be well-mannered and gracious. Perhaps you hold the door for the person behind you, but rarely respond to invitations requesting a RSVP. One thing is certain: Your intensity about civility means it’s time to clean out your ego.

I suggest you channel your haughty indignation into finding ways you fall short of behaving courteously. Here’s why: Blaming others for not meeting your expectations clearly causes you stress. Who needs that? Instead, I suggest you treat others as if you love them. At the supermarket, gently tap your brother or sister on the shoulder and ask him or her to move their cart. When you see two people chatting in a doorway, smile and say, “Excuse me, I’m about to cut into your conversation!” before strutting through. It’s not easy to love others, but it is a terrific hobby. The other day, I was shopping at SaveMart and six middle-school kids were running up and down the aisles. “Hey, hey, hey,” I said, and they screeched to a stop in front of me. “OK, I can see you’re in hurry, but if you run in here, you might hurt yourself or someone else. What if you knocked down an old lady like me?” They giggled. “Walk, please. Now what can I help you find?” They wanted chips, so I walked them up to an employee and modeled how to ask for help. Then, I said goodbye as one boy said, “She was nice.” Of course, I could have complained about ill-bred children running the aisles with no one, not even the shopkeepers stopping them. Hmm, but complaining would be stressful.

One last thing: If you do something kind, such as allowing another driver to enter your lane, please don’t expect to be recognized. That’s narcissistic. Be polite because that’s a quality you value, be courteous because that’s the kind of society you want to live in, but don’t demand that others acknowledge you. If you do, you are embodying the ill manners you claim to abhor.

Meditation of the week
“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another,” wrote Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. Where is your love most needed in the world?

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