Where have all the manners gone?

I’ve been a negative nancy lately. Mostly because of the people around me, and the people I encounter daily. No one seems to care about anyone anymore. I’ve been in the mindset where I’m taking it personally. I shouldn’t, but how can’t I?

When did it become ok to not smile at someone that looks at you, or to say thank you when you hold the door open for someone? Are things so horrible that no one can acknowledge the kindness of another? I’ll tell you, if someone shows kindness to me, it’s appreciated, and they’ll know that. I’ll say thank you. It’s rare though.

These are everyday things. Things that are minor annoyances that build up. And when someone is unkind to me, I have the tendency to do the same to someone else. I hate that feeling. Sometimes it feels impossible to be civil in a world that is not. Like pulling out of a parking lot in traffic when you have a moment, and the car coming at you speeds up, just to prove something. I get it. People are pissed off. We are all pissed off and we have stress and stuff going on in our lives. But when did it become ok to take it out on everyone?

The cashier that hates her job and takes it out on me, the person ahead of me at Starbucks that complains about the tax, the person driving behind me during a snowstorm flashing the high beams because I’m not driving fast enough.

All of these and more are making me lose faith in humanity, as cliche as that is. No one has patience anymore. It’s making me angry, and I hate that. Everyone is intrusive, entitled, and pissed, and they’re making me that way too.

I want to fix this. Not others, but I want to fix how I deal with them. I’m not doing so great lately. People will always be entitled, intrusive and pissed, and my goal is to not feed into that. I’ve been unsuccessful so far, but it’s something I’m working toward. Their feelings aren’t mine, and neither are their problems. I just want to get to the place where it doesn’t hurt. Where I’m not just some anonymous person to take their frustrations out on.

All I can say to the angry ones is, you need to realize that the person you lash out at is not the cause of your problems. Someday, you may encounter a broken soul, and your harsh reactions may put them over the edge. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. Deal with your shit and don’t subject us to it. You never know what impact your anger or rudeness or disregard for someone’s feelings can do to someone.

Grow up and deal. In private, bitch all you want. In public, be kind. Your problems aren’t our fault.

Respect your elders

There’s a new drug store in my town, and since it’s convenient, I shop there often. I’ve seen many employees come and go over a few short months. I’ve recently seen an elderly woman there named Viola. The first time I saw her there, she was having some issue with the cash register, and called to management for help. A manager came to the rescue, full of attitude, and a twenty-something was by her side. “Well, you could start by giving the correct change,” the twenty-something said, while rolling her eyes. I cringed when I heard this, feeling embarrassed for Viola, but mostly for this kid that obviously knows everything. The moment passed, I paid for what I had and left, but I still thought of this woman days after.

I’ve seen her at work several times since then, and each time she was delightful and witty, and seemed happy to be there. At the same time, there would be her manager breathing down her neck, or a younger coworker questioning her, like she had no idea what to do with herself. But still, she was pleasant and smiling, almost like she was giving the middle finger to these kids, and I love that. She’s lived life and she’s still living it. She’s out there working. Most likely because she has to. God bless America for that.

Tonight, I saw her, and a young kid was questioning her again. “Well, this is how it’s supposed to be,” she said, and he just walked away with his “I’m younger and better than you” demeanor. And then she attended to me with a smile on her face. A genuine smile. Not covering up sadness or hurt feelings, just a smile.

“Would you like a bag for this?”
“Yes, please.”
“I’ll get right on that.”
….And still smiling.

It’s so easy to dismiss those older than us because they aren’t like us. They are slow at using a computer? They must be stupid. Not really. If the computer crashes, let’s see who can function. It won’t be the youngsters, for sure. It will be Viola.

I hate that the elderly are looked down upon. It should be the opposite, I think.
They have so much wisdom. So much to teach us. No one wants to listen.

I can tell the character of someone when I meet them for the first time, and Viola is a firecracker for sure. I can feel her full life and how much she’s still living. I enjoy seeing her there, even during our short moments together. Her spirit is strong. Much stronger than the bottle-fed kids that are her superiors. She’s got so much on them.

We need to respect our elders. It’s said so much, and no one really pays attention. Perhaps help them learn new technology instead of belittling them. Maybe listen to what they have to say. They have a story to tell. A story that doesn’t involve Facebook or the Internet or iPhones. A real story. A different story.

Someday we will all be a Viola. Respect her.

If she is your cashier at Kinney Drugs in Hinesburg, give her a smile back. 🙂

Everything I’ve been doing, I’m going to do the opposite of all that

So, here I am on another New Year’s Eve, awaiting the arrival of 2014. Usually, I’d be trying my hardest to do something “meaningful” or writing a list of resolutions to finally fix everything that’s wrong with me. I’m not doing either of those things. I’m sitting on the couch while my significant other is napping, and I’m watching “The Big Bang Theory” and sipping wine. Other than fighting off an upper respiratory infection, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been thinking about my traditions of New Years past, and nothing took. I didn’t wake up on New Year’s Day enlightened and free because I wrote down things I needed to change, or because I stayed up to watch the ball drop. I’m always up late, and I could easily get a kiss at midnight anytime. Doing these same things on a specific night each year has never made things any different for me. So this year, I’ve decided to do the opposite.

Included in my usual resolution list many times is, “let go.” Let this person go, let this feeling go, blah blah blah. From my own personal experience, the more I try to let go of anything, my grip seems to tighten even more. It’s easy enough for anyone to say they’re letting go of something. We hold onto things for a reason, and just saying we’re done with whatever it is won’t cut it. We have to be ready. So I’m letting go of my need to let go. What I’m doing instead is asking for spiritual guidance, so I can heal myself and let go of anything I’m grasping to happily and willingly, in the right time.

Along with that biggie, I’m being honest with myself in other areas of my life as well. As I let go of my need to let go, some of the things I’ve believed about myself and others are easily falling away. Here’s a few:

1) As much as I have eternally hoped for guarantees about the future, there aren’t any. Someone saying they want a future with me doesn’t mean it will happen, and knowing this and saying it out loud doesn’t mean it won’t.
2) Even though I have a deep love and respect for and a connection with animals, doesn’t mean that I need to be a vegetarian anymore. It’s all about responsible and ethical choices
3) I hate tofu
4) I have goals and dreams that revolve around me and no one else. And this is perfectly fine. For my entire adult life, I was always last on my list. My plans would only work if they fit into someone else’s life. This is changing.

I could go on and on. But all of these things are different. I’m appreciating how my feelings and beliefs about myself are changing, and that it’s ok. Nothing is set in stone, and it shouldn’t be anyway. If our beliefs about ourselves and others are concrete, there’s no room for growth and change.

We are less than an hour away from our own new beginning. Happy New Year everyone

“We close our eyes, and the world has turned around again.” ~ Oingo Boingo