A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

Do you find kindness and civility missing in your world? Well, I sadly find this to be the case all too often in mine. When I started this post a few days ago it was going to be a rant. Now I'm back to my usual state of resignation and find myself expecting less and less from people. When did it become the norm to accept rudness? Is it so hard to smile at people as we walk through the mall or post office? Do you say hello and good bye? Do you say please and thank you?

When's the last time you were the recipient of an act of kindness? When was the last time you performed an act of kindness?

I often feel like a salmon swimming upstream against the current trying to be kind and polite myself AND be an example, rather than preaching all the time, to my kids. But it ain't easy. Am I a dinosaur? Is civility gone forever?

Here's the memorable ending of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE from which I stole the line for my post title. This is the most current version with Jessica Lange as Blanche Dubois, Diane Lane as her sister, Alec Baldwin as Stanley and John Goodman as Mitch. That Tennessee Williams could sure turn a phrase.

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Blogger CindyS said...

I get frustrated also. The other night it was windy and our windchill was in the thirties. Bob and I were going into SEARs when I noticed two ladies hovering over their car. I watched and realized they were broken down. I called over and then went to see if I could help. We helped set up their battery clamps and they were able to start their car (I know they would have figured it out but it was really cold). Nothing feels better than knowing you helped someone out.

As to customer service - gone the way of the Dodo it has.


1:25 AM PST  
Blogger CindyS said...

Should have said minus thirties Celcius - let's just say it was friggin' cold ;)


1:26 AM PST  
Blogger nath said...

I know what you mean Rosie... but it's just the way ppl are nowadays. Ppl are less friendly, more selfish. We also rush through things and etc. The worse I think is that nowadays, kids aren't taught manners either... so I see even less acts of kindness in the future.

and Cindy, ouch, -30? Dang... does that mean it's coming twds us? It's been like +10 lately.

5:17 AM PST  
Anonymous KayWebb Harrison said...

Dear Rosie,

Being a BookMoocher, I have been going to the Post Office a lot lately. In those visits, I have not found the impoliteness you have. People hold the door open for me and my rollator. We chat and smile at each other as we wait our turn; even in December we did. I'd attribute the kindness to living in VA, but here in Norfolk, we have people from all over.

As to teaching children good manners, I learned that the most effective way to teach them is to use them yourself. If you want your kids to say "Please" and "Thank you" and "You're welcome", be sure to say the words yourself.

Wishing you pleasant encounters,

8:24 AM PST  
Blogger Holly said...

Well, being the not so nice person I am, I generally call people on their bad behavior. For example, I was on my way into a store the other day and the gentleman (i use the term loosely) in front of me waiting until I was just about to walk through the door before he let it swing closed. He knew I was behind him, even held the door for an extra second, but I guess since I wasn't RIGHT THERE, he let it go. So when I walked in, I said, "Wow, chivalry really IS dead" and smiled big at him (I find a smile confuses people). He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it and turned slightly pink. Then he apologized.

Not that I think this will always work, and I have no desire to get shot for reprimanding someone, but it does make me feel better.

As for customer service, I agree with Cindy.

Oh, the other thing is...I find that if *I* initiate a conversation, people are more than willing to talk to me. I think, to be totally honest, people are just afraid nowadays. Because really, the world is a scary place when you're surrounded by strangers.

All we can do is be the best people we can be, and who knows, maybe if you start a conversation with someone in the post office, you'll make their day?

11:42 AM PST  
Blogger CindyS said...

Nath - it was Jan 2nd I think so you've already experienced it. I'm with Holly in that I will talk to people without hesitation. I remember when Bob and I were dating he would wait at the end of the counter. I guess I was talking with the clerk and Bob asked me on the way out 'who was that?' I shrugged 'don't know'. This happened a few times before he realized I talk to customer service people. Now I can barely get a word in edgewise with the way he talks to everyone ;)


12:22 PM PST  
Blogger Becky said...

I couldn't agree more, Rosie. Sadly, it seems it's all about ME in our society anymore. If it won't benefit them, they won't take the time to do it.

With Jeff working in the school system, it doesn't appear that any of this is destined to change any time soon, either. Many kids today simply aren't taught basic social graces and manners anymore.

It's sad when you see some able bodied young man going into Barnes & Noble, and he won't even wait to hold the door for the little old lady with a walker coming in behind him. Seeing this happen, my 11 year old son ran up the sidewalk to reach the door in time to hold it for her.

4:46 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Cindy, Kudos to you and Bob. You know your niceness shines through your writing so it doesn't surprise me one bit.

I'm a little shy and careful about helping strangers when I'm alone, but when with GG I will boldly march myself up to help. Growing up a military brat everyone always lent a helping hand to one another and that's one thing my parents always taught me.

Nath, you are one of the sweetest people on line. You always say something cheerful and positive. So see not ALL people are unfriendly and selfish. You give me hope.

Kay, I'm not saying ALL people are grouchy and rude. Really...I'm not! :) It just seems that way some days.

Holly, yeah, me too. I don't have much problem calling people on rude behavior either. This was actually a sales person being rude to a woman. You know you sort of hesitate to say anything and butt in and I came pretty close. What really got me was another sales person (they were both young women) laughing and giggling about it a few feet away.

Most of the time I'm feeling sorry for the sales people and customer service associate because the average customer is giving them a hard time.

It was just a very bad "Jonah day" as Anne Shirley (Green Gables) is prone to say.

Becky, I'm on my two boys all the time. Between pounding manners into their skulls and them having had my Mother and brother who were both disabled for some period of time they are pretty aware about being polite and helping people (especially Moms with strollers) with doors.

Some days I venture out in the world and witness sweetness and kindess and some days I don't. There just seems to be more 'don't' days than 'do' days.

6:48 PM PST  

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