The Courtesies That Mankind Forgot
I need to take a step away from board games for a minute to get some things off of my chest. There comes a point in a person’s life where they’ve put up with inconsiderate jerks long enough. It is very possible that I am being too overly critical of other people, and it is also very possible that I just expect too much from the general public.
*Editor’s Note: I said “general public”, not “everyone”. Note the distinction for future reference.
I was raised to be polite and think of how others might feel. I’ve devoted my life to thinking ahead so that my actions would have a minimal negative impact for all of those around me. Is it so much to ask for others to do the same? It’s a sad, sad world we live in…where the needs of the individual come first, and to hell with anyone who gets in “my” way.
If you have your doubts, go for a drive. I want you to count how many people cut you off, wouldn’t let you merge, and rode their vehicle up your bumper even though you were doing the speed limit. People want to get to where they want to go, and so help you if you are in their way. Then there are those that get into the passing lane with no intentions of going faster than the cars in the right lane…again, maybe I’m just being overly critical, but really? Are you that inconsiderate of those who want to pass in the passing lane?
Then you’ve got the people who poke fun of your interests or attack you personally. You’d think that this bully like behavior would go away once you were out of college, but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. I hate that excuse. Why not? Why doesn’t life work out that way? It’s up to the individual to change their ways, and we blame life every time we run into someone who is just unwilling to grow a pair and grow up. It’s inexcusable. You want proof of this? Choose ten different internet forums and make a case for the opposite viewpoint that each respective website is trying to convey. Compare the amount of constructive (yet understanding) criticism you receive as compared to the childish, immature remarks that are made. On one of my board game reviews, someone felt “Sorry” for me because my girlfriend wasn’t into complex strategy games. I get that sexless gaming nerds get frustrated, but take your anger somewhere more appropriate.
How about the people who don’t want to work or contribute and expect you to support them? There are those that hold down three jobs to make ends meet for their kids, and yet people still have the nerve to ask them for help because they don’t feel like applying for a job. I was approached by a middle-aged man last week in downtown Pittsburgh claiming to have been a war vet. He showed me an “official” US Vet ID Card that was obviously not (the eagle holding a rifle was kind of a giveaway, among other things) and wanted me to give him bus money. He said that he had money on him and he patted his coat pocket, whatever that meant. He was smooth, I’ll grant him that, as if he was used to this shtick. I had to excuse myself and walk away. It could be me being ignorant, but I highly doubt that a trained war vet, who are heroes in ever sense of the word, would need to prove themselves to others by creating and laminating a card.
Do you work in an office? How many times has a cell phone gone off? How many times has a co-worker played their radio out loud? How many times can you hear Howard Stern being streamed from a nearby PC? How often have you had to walk away from your desk to make a work related call because you couldn’t concentrate from the chatter around you? How often do you hear a loud sigh coming from the cube next to you, followed by the slamming of files? How often do you see a wet umbrella lying on the kitchen floor, causing a safety hazard? How many people have you seen smoking next to a sign that clearly says, “No Smoking?” In one example, the vending lady came by with her huge tray of goodies and I held the door open for her so that she wouldn’t have to awkwardly dance the cart through the door. She was so surprised by my actions that she slipped me a free bag of Doritos. I guess she didn’t see that kind of display often…why am I not surprised?
Ever try to go out for an evening and relax? Maybe you’ve gone to the movies? In a semi-busy theatre, how many times has a person opted to sit directly in front of you, even though there were plenty of vacant seats nearby? Or maybe, some woman decided that it would be an excellent idea to bring her four kids to an R-rated movie. If you’re lucky, none of them will be teething infants who cry every five minutes. How about the loudmouths that have seen the movie before and see fit to call out things and spoil key parts? I find it funny (or not so funny) that movie theatres began showing a tutorial on how to act in a theatre…and within five minutes, someone is breaking those rules.
When is the last time you were at the grocery store? Last week, I witnessed a kid of about six years old with the mother nowhere in sight, running up and down the aisles with a semi-loaded cart, almost slamming into people as he exited an aisle. I got so angry, I walked out in front of his cart and stopped it with my foot, giving the kid a stare that I doubt he’d forget anytime soon. Just where was his parents? Oh, another tip…if you’re looking at food in an aisle, don’t be a roadblock…move your cart to the side so people can get past you.
Live next to a couple of asshats? You aren’t the only one. Every week, we have new people coming in and out of the house next to us. Once, we found a towel on our fence, hanging out to dry. Another time, they left a filled trash bag on my side of the driveway. One weekend, they were moving what sounded like pipes out of the house or from one car to another between two and four o’clock in the morning. How often have you heard a couple fighting OUTSIDE, either late at night or in broad daylight? I never understood this…take your drama INSIDE the house and fight about it there. Ever find dog remains in your yard and you don’t own a dog? Yeah…people.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. If I get into the subject of public restrooms I’d never be able to finish this rant. Some people can be downright selfish and self-centered. All they care about it what they want and will try to get it by any means necessary. Acquaintances often wonder why I am not social and why I don’t interact with a lot of people. Maybe it’s because the general public are two-faced, untrustworthy, uncaring pricks? Who’d want to be social with those kinds of people? Not me.
By the same token, you shouldn’t let people who forget what common courtesy is deter you from being impolite yourself. As easy as it is to be the jerk in some situations, being the Good Samaritan is far more rewarding, even when the other party doesn’t acknowledge it. As much as I feel that everyone has the ability to shape up, it’s hard to accept that they choose not to…and it can be equally as frustrating. Consider though, if in that one percent chance out of a hundred, that you did manage to change someone’s life just through your actions…and they in turn helped someone else…who ended up helping someone else…you get the idea.
I don’t know…maybe it will all be worth it someday. Change doesn’t happen overnight. The human race has a lot of growing to do. All I can hope to do is instill these common courtesies in my kid(s) before I pass on, so that maybe one day, they too, can make a difference. A positive one.