On Rudeness And The Devolution Of Our Society In General.
Since I recently became a retail worker, this meme I came across rings particularly true to me. As I stand for what seems to be endless hours behind my cash register, I constantly repeat the same question over and over again in my mind: ” At what point did our civilization become generally rude? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a bastion of social grace myself. However, I did learn and do practice some basic social rules: I speak when I’m spoken to. I say hello, please, thank you, have a nice day, blah blah blah. When I give something to a person, I hand it to them, not flip it at them like they don’t deserve it. I smile back at people when they smile at me – you know basic actions of civility that have helped keep our society functioning for thousands of years. Apparently, the rules have changed. People no longer have to perform these perfunctory behaviors, particularly when conducting a 30 second transaction with their friendly local Kwickie Mart cashier. Here’s an example of an exchange that happens daily during one of my shifts:
Me – ” Hello, how are you today?”
Customer – ” Marlboro Light 100’s in a box.”
Me – “Marlboro Light 100’s in a box sir/maam?”
Customer – No response
Me – “No problem, here you go. Will there be anything else sir/maam?”
Customer – No response
Me -” Ok, your total is $5.23.”
Customer – Angrily flips wadded up money across the counter at me.
Me – “Ok, that’s $5.23 out of 6. 77 cents is your change. Thank you and have a nice day.”
Customer – No response, turns and walks out the door.
Bear in mind, this is usually one of the most congenial of exchanges. Most transactions involve a lot of complaining about how we charge too much, or hateful curt responses, or anger over the fact that I don’t have 20’s in my drawer to change their 100 dollar bill, etc, etc. What the fuck is this all about? I am convinced that the general customer behavior in a convenience store is but a mere microcosm of how our society has devolved. It disgusts me, and it frightens me.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t one of those “What’s wrong with kids these days” rants that you used to hear from your grandpa. This general rudeness and hatefulness isn’t even exclusive to an age group: I find it common practice to be an asshole across every generation. Dickish boorish behavior now spans from 8 to 80. Ass hattery apparently has no born on, nor expiration date.
It’s not just in the store that I see this going on. I call and leave messages which never get returned, whether they be personal or professional. I send e-mails that are never responded to. I smile and say hello to someone out and public and they ignore me. I hold a door open for someone, and the action goes unacknowledged. Courtesy is mostly a thing of the past folks, and that’s a shame. So why is this happening? Is it the internet? There are a lot of trolls and bullies on the intertubes; anonymity seems to bring out the worst in people. Is it the behaviors of those who are regularly in the public eye? Celebrities and politicians alike seem to think nothing of destroying others in public. There is no decorum what so ever in the way they comport themselves. Are we the sheeple merely following their leads? I have no idea. All I know is that cordiality is supposed to beget cordiality, and that just isn’t happening anymore.
What I do know is that our society has eroded to little more than a community that shares camaraderie in hatefulness and arrogance. This group hates that group, and the exchanges between those of different ideologies are mean spirited. Hell, even the groups that claim to be oppressed lash out against those who are not like them. It’s sobering to consider that there is more hate and anger then there is a willingness to understand and accept our differences.
In the mean time, socially flawed as I am, I’m still going to comport myself in a civil and polite manner. I will continue to hold doors open, say “please”, “thank you”, and “have a nice day”, whether I’m working or out having dinner. Furthermore, I’m going to try really, really hard to resist the urge to grab the next rude customer by the hair, and smash their face into the counter.
After all, it’s the polite thing to do 🙂
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