Lately it’s become abundantly clear to me that I am one of the last polite people left on Earth. After spending a day running errands in Indianapolis, I think it’s easy to see why so many other countries in the world dislike Americans. Today sure made me despise a few dozen of them. I’m not sure when we, as a country, lost our manners, but the lack of respect for our fellow human beings is really a bit nauseating. The most appalling fact is that all of our rudeness seems to stem from the same basic problem: We’re in too damn much of a hurry.
On Monday I got a check from some family friends as a “new baby” present, and since I had nothing better to do, I decided to take my son shopping. I bought him a Baby Shakespeare DVD. I’m not sure how much it actually has to do with Shakespeare, but it claims to introduce babies to important words using the magic of poetry. To make a long story short (a rarity for me), I found out I could get it MUCH cheaper online, so after purchasing it on eBay, I decided to take the unopened DVD back. While I was there, I picked up a package of diapers and got into what was one of the most enormous lines I’ve stood in for a very long time. There was one register open and the people checking out were trying to buy the entire store. But, I waited patiently. I struck up a conversation with the women in front of me. It was fine. Then, the service desk opened up and said they could take the next person in line. This is when any semblance of common courtesy started to break down. The two women at the back of the line started for it.
Now this, right here, pisses me off more than just about anything else in the world. Those women knew they weren’t next. They were about five people from next, and yet, since their time was obviously way more important than any of ours (despite the fact the rest of us all had small children who were squirming around), they stepped forward. Luckily, the woman who actually should have been next was just a little quicker and got there first. The women still left and instead of being fifth in line, were now second. Still, I held my tongue as it didn’t directly impact me. A few minutes later though, a second line opened up and once again, clearly said, “I can help the next person in line.” This time, that was me. As I turned to walk over there, the woman two behind me said to the woman directly behind me in a rather annoyed tone, “oh, I guess that’s you.” So, the woman behind me started to walk over there. I turned, looked at them both and said, “no, actually, that would be me.” Keep in mind, I have one item and both of them have carts loaded to the top. They both glare at me as if I have violated some rule of etiquette, and the woman behind me, just walks over to the line. Of course, none of the checkers say a word. So, I continue to wait. There was a tiny bit of revenge when my line got done faster than both of the vicious cutters.
This in itself would have been enough to annoy me, but on my drive home, as I was waiting to turn onto Allisonville from 86th Street, five cars in one of the oncoming turn lanes and six cars in the other decided that red no longer means stop and proceeded through the light. Despite the fact that my light was green, I had to wait once again for people who clearly believe their time is far more important than mine.
I realize our rushed lifestyle is part of what defines America. After all, we gave the world fast food, drive through pharmacies, and microwave everything. But come on. A little common courtesy takes maybe an extra minute or two. I’m not saying forget the hustle and bustle, I’m just saying, it won’t kill you to be polite. In the case of running red lights, it may actually save you. If you know you aren’t next, stay in the line and wait your turn. It’s what everyone else has to do.