Have people just forgotten how to be kind? Or have forwarded emails warning us to beware of criminal scams to steal our wallets and kidnap our children just resulted in increased public paranoia?
Whatever the case, the people I encounter are increasingly ill-mannered, and it’s not just little things. OK, not everyone says excuse me after blocking a fellow shopper’s path at the supermarket. We may not offer up a “bless you” when a stranger sneezes. Even true Southern gentlemen, from time to time, forget to hold open a door for a lady. I understand that’s just how things are in this day and age, although I do not necessarily agree with it.
But let’s focus for a moment on the big things — actions or exchanges that are so rude they’re simply inexcusable. Sadly, I’ve recently witnessed so many of these public displays of incivility, I’ve decided to adopt a new slogan: What is wrong with people? And no, I’m not just old-fashioned. I don’t have ridiculously high expectations. I just expect others to act, well, human.
Last weekend, for example, I was slowly circling downtown Savannah in search of a parking spot when another vehicle rear-ended my car. I checked my rearview mirror and saw a silver Jeep behind me. The woman who was driving shrugged and shook her head. I wasn’t sure what to make of her gesture, but I pulled over to assess the damage, figuring she’d do the same. Nope. She took off.
I tried to follow her but a trolley pulled out in front of me, and the Jeep driver made it through a stoplight that I got stuck at. By the time the light turned green, the woman who had hit my car was nowhere to be found.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, I got another heaping helping of rude the very next day.
On Easter morning, my husband and I decided to head to the grocery store for breakfast makings. Inside the market, people dressed in their finest clothes — fresh from church services, no doubt — greeted one another, and cashiers wished customers a pleasant holiday. Everyone appeared to be on their best behavior. Key word: appeared.
As my husband and I soon found out, all those niceties were just for show. After we loaded up our purchases and went to leave, we found the car’s battery was dead. Fortunately, we’re prepared people so we took the jumper cables from the trunk and waited for the owner of one of the cars parked near us to exit the store. It was Easter morning, after all. Surely some Good Samaritan would agree to jump the car, right? Wrong.
The first woman we asked said she didn’t have jumper cables. My husband told her we did. Then she just refused. The second woman we asked claimed the car she was driving wasn’t hers. Hmm, I wasn’t aware only a car’s true owner has access to the vehicle’s battery, so I learned something new.
Finally, the third person we asked, a kind Navy sailor, agreed to help us. Almost immediately, our car was up and running again and the sailor was on his way. It literally took him two minutes to do a kind deed for strangers on the anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection.
Many people could stand to be more like that sailor. Kindness is contagious. Give it a shot.