Yesterday I took Vlad to the shoe store to buy him a new pair of tennis shoes for his birthday. I was standing in line when a woman just cut right in front of me and went to the counter. She started yelling at the clerk for something that was obviously not his fault. On a previous purchase she was charged an extra $3 for something. He told her right off that they would take it off her charge but she just kept going on and on and on. She just wanted to rant. When she had her $3 and stormed off he just looked deflated. She never even looked at me, the person she had cut off.
We walked up and I smiled and said to him, don’t let anyone rent space in your head. He said, “I’ve been dealing with people like her all day long, I just don’t get it”. I said, “people are in their own heads and thinking selfishly. When you’ve been to a Ukraine orphanage and see how they live you don’t care about stupid stuff like this anymore”.
I went on to talk to him about how great he handled the situation and that to be able to let things like that go was a great ability. He had stayed calm throughout the tirade. I complimented him on his behavior.
When we left he thanked me and told me that I was the best customer he had had in weeks. How sad. How sad that simply being polite makes me the best customer in weeks. I am sad that people are so into themselves that they don’t see the damage they are causing to others.
As we walked out of the store I talked to Vlad about what we experienced. I asked him what he thought of the woman’s behavior. He said she was mean. I told him that mature people don’t act like that. Good people don’t act like that. He said, “I know, mom”. I said, “Vlad, I don’t ever want you to act like that”. He said, “I won’t, mom”.
I’m sure the woman had some things going on in her life. But is that an excuse? I hear people give excuses for their behavior all of the time. As if because they are going through something that gives them a right to ignore manners. To put their garbage out on others. To be mean and rude is OK because they are having a bad day.
Character and integrity are things that don’t seem to have value anymore. To have a sales clerk deal with customers like that day in and day out is just wrong. What is happening to us that we don’t care about how we treat others?
It’s become a bad habit. We grow into it one bad moment at a time and then it becomes a part of us and even who we are. We are the person who rides roughshod over others and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.
Mind your manners. My grandmother used to say that continually. As a society we need to mind our manners. We need to consciously think about how we interact with others. That sales clerk is someone’s son, someone’s grandson, someone’s friend, boyfriend or husband. He belongs to someone. If he were your son would you want someone to treat him like you are treating him?
Make today a day to consciously think about how you are with others. And maybe even go one step further and do the unexpected and give them a compliment or word of encouragement. Not only will you probably be the one bright spot in their day, but you’ll walk away with a happy heart, knowing you made a difference.