“It’s nice to be nice”
I used to think that was yet another cloying sentiment, a snippet of the wisdom of ye olde worlde. I used to scoff at people who said it, I used to mock them.
Now? Now I’m turning into one of them.
I consider myself selfish, self-serving and occasionally rude. I do not really care what other people think of me. OK, that’s a lie, I do not really care what strangers think of me, and that allows me some ‘old grumpy man’ style freedoms.
Take, for example, the journey home this evening. We took our seats on the train (a rare occurrence in itself), sitting next to the doorway that joins the carriages. Now I fully understand that these doors are designed to open to facilitate the movement of passengers between the carriages (and I have to begrudgingly concede that they, as doors, fulfill that requirement to the full), but there is a flaw in their design. People.
People who throw the door open so it catches me square on the elbow. People who then glance round at me as they stride through, as if I had deliberately thrown my elbow out to meet the door. People who manage, in that briefest of glances, to convey the utmost despise for someone they don’t know (I tell you, it’s just as well I’m thick skinned). People who then proceed to stride out, leaving the door ajar and swaying to the same rhythm as the train.
People who stop and turn to glare when I, pointedly, slam the door they’ve left open.
It’s not too much to ask is it? A quick apology, even that kind ‘eek, sorry’ face would do (you know the one, where you pull the corners of your mouth back and down, teeth clenched… ach you know what I mean) but no, nothing.
And don’t get me started on the kitchen in our office. Disgusting. If I was invited over to certain co-workers for a meal I’d have to decline. I’ve seen they way they treat a kitchen, dishes left clogged with drying food, the sink full of used cutlery and bits of lunch. Soggy strands of lettuce clinging to the knives and forks like a man washed overboard, drenched, hanging on for dear life lest he be swept away into the drain below him. How long does it take to rinse your plate, and place it in the dishwasher provided? Or rinse that teaspoon, dry it (hell, flick it dry if needs must) and place it in the glass provided? Obviously too long. Yuck.
It’s this kind of thing which manifests itself later as road rage. The build up of all these, seemingly inconsequential, moments of thoughtlessness that churn inside you all day, only to be manifested on your journey home. The slightest provocation is all that is needed to push you over the edge, typically another small act of thoughtlessness.
So, tomorrow, be nice. Don’t let that door swing back into someone’s face. Let someone else get on the bus before you, thank someone if they do something nice for you, and apologise if you do something rude.
Either that or stay the hell outta my road!