On a daily basis, multiple times during the course of a day, people piss me off... oops, excuse me, irritate me.
Friends, casual acquaintances, total strangers - from the lady at the grocery store, who after being rung up says "oh wait, I have coupons" and then proceeds to clean out her purse, knowing full well there is a line of people behind her, to the friend that doesn't bother to call when she's running late and wonders why you're upset when she finally shows up an hour later.
What do these two examples have in common, you may ask? Self-absorption. That's right folks. I'm here to speak for all the people left in your wake of self involved narcissism... Get Over Yourselves! (Deep breath out.)
How many times a day do you have to put your own impatience, frustrations, and attitude in check because someone else put themselves ahead of you? The guy that cuts you off and then slows down. The mother at school who can't stop bragging about her kids long enough to see how socially awkward they really are while she suggests ways to improve on your child's upbringing. Or the family member who lovingly offers you help until you actually ask for it and then it's not convenient. Stop! Just Stop!
Is it so much to ask that we as people consider someone other than ourselves? Have we placed ourselves so high on a pedestal that we can't even see that our fellow man deserves some attention? Some consideration? And God help me for suggesting that either of those be done with a modicum of civility.
Today I was nearly struck dumb by a stranger's courtesy. It was not much more than a held door while I struggled to right my inverted umbrella in the rain and wind, but still I was amazed. Most people don't bother to hold the door as they walk through when they know you're directly behind them, much less hold the door for you when you're 10 paces back fighting with rain gear. I got my umbrella closed, threw it directly in the trash can by the door, walked in, and thanked him profusely. He just smiled and said "of course" and went on his way.
Well, there's no "of course" about it. There should be, but there's not. This random act of kindness, seemingly small and of no consequence to him, has thrown a big ol' spotlight on the fact that most interactions with the public at large are inconsiderate, impolite, and sometimes, just plain nasty. What has happened to just being nice?
Motherhood has taught me many things, not the least of which is that modeling good behavior is the best way to have well behaved children. I've gotten in the habit of saying lots of "please" and "thank you" and "have a nice day" just because I know my daughter is listening and learning. It's a fairly easy habit to get into and practice makes perfect.
The idea of being your child's own best role model is what keeps me from pulling up alongside someone who has cut me off in traffic and flipping them off. "Of course", I still have some work ahead of me... just this week, I got to the checkout lane and forgot I had coupons ;-).