Why are we all so mean to each other? Two things happened to me yesterday that I just can’t stop thinking about. The two incidents were nothing big, but for some reason they ate away at me all night. By the time I woke up this morning, I realized why I was so bothered: my feelings were hurt. I have a pretty thick skin and I march to the beat of a different drummer. Most things that people say and do that could be construed as negative have little effect on me as I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should not be judged by me. People can think whatever they want, I’m going to go about my business as planned. So how did I get my feelings hurt?
The first incident occurred early in the morning as I was driving my husband and son to work and an appointment. It was rush hour and I was merging onto the freeway. Since there was traffic I was not able to speed up or slow down to enter the flow. My lane and the lane I was trying to enter were both traveling at about three miles per hour, so where my lane ended, the cars were taking turns merging, one car from my lane, one car from the other lane. It was my turn but the car that should have gone behind me didn’t want to let me in. Although I thought it was rude, I decided that he must be in a hurry (to go nowhere at 3mph) so I let him go ahead. If things had ended there, I would have forgotten about it in less that a minute.
But it didn’t end there. The car behind the car that wouldn’t let me in didn’t want to let me in either. As I pulled in behind the first car, this (excuse me) butthole revved his engine, got within two inches of my front fender and forced me out of the lane. The lane I came from had ended so now I was on the shoulder with no place to go. I would have let him go ahead so I could merge in behind him, but he wouldn’t pull up. So I tried to go ahead and guess what, he wouldn’t let me. He finally pulled ahead and the car behind him graciously let me in. I changed lanes again and eventually ended up next to him, not on purpose, but because that’s where the 3mph traffic put me. As I pulled next to him he thoughtfully displayed his middle finger for the entire time I was next to him.
He took the next exit, which, ironically, I had long since passed by the time he got to it. Not letting me in had not saved him any time. The only results of his actions were that my son got a lesson on how to be rude, and I got to feel bad. I had done nothing wrong to this person, other than exist and it made me feel bad that the simple fact of my existence could make someone so angry. I did my best to let it go, but it nagged at me all day.
The second incident was much less significant, but (perhaps because I was already feeling down) made me feel worse than the first. I had both my kids with me at the supermarket. I had put my two year old in one of those carts with a car and steering wheel on the front. As we were in line to check out he had gotten a little rowdy because he dropped his toy car. I had picked it up but since we were in the check-out aisle there was not enough room to squeeze around to the front of the cart to give it back to him. Also, since the cart was so long with the car part in front, I couldn’t even hand it to my older son to pass it to him. We were next in line anyway so I just held on to it.
The woman who was in line ahead of me had already paid, but she was still standing there, taking an excessive amount of time organizing her wallet and handing her bags to her daughter. The checker had already rung up my items and was standing there waiting for me to move up to pay. The line behind me was growing and my toddler was getting angry because I still had his car. I patiently waited and didn’t tell her to hurry up or sigh loudly or anything. When she turned to leave I began to push my cart to move up and accidentally bumped her with the front of it. The bump was so light that I wasn’t even sure I had touched her until she turned around and looked at me. I immediately apologized since it was my fault and I felt bad. She rolled her eyes, grunted at me, and then continued to cut her eyes back at me as she walked away. By that time I had had it with feeling bad and I told her if she didn’t have such a bad attitude, that maybe that kind of thing wouldn’t happen to her. My own reaction made me feel worse because I had stooped to her level.
I didn’t expect her to become my best friend and say it didn’t hurt, and that it was her fault for taking so long in line. I didn’t expect that because it was my fault for trying to hurry so my son would settle down. But I really didn’t expect rudeness. A simple, “that’s ok” would have sufficed. Now I am unsure of what I should do if I unintentionally offend someone. I tried an apology, but that was obviously not the correct thing to do.
I know that we are all a little on edge in the world today. We have some serious problems politically, environmentally, financially. But non of those things will ever be resolved if we have no respect or common courtesy for each other. People being mean and rude to me caused me to feel bad and to eventually be rude myself. People naturally pass along what they are given. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to give good will? Being nice is free.