Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mind Your Manners

This past week has been a REAL test of my patience; a virtue that I have been working on diligently to improve upon. However, the tests that have been put forth to me of late I feel don't require patience but demonstrate to me just how many people are out there are ignorant. Now, some would argue that people just look for reasons to judge others which to a certain extent is true, however what I have experienced this week you couldn't even convince me that I am the one being judgemental.

A couple of days ago as a treat I took my son to Burger King for lunch. We had been waiting in lines the whole day and Kaelen was beyond patient. As many of you can attest to, three year old children don't really have the ability to stay still for long. The lineup was long, the playcentre within the King was closed for cleaning and the volume level was extreme at best. Again, Kaelen patiently waited in line until we received our burgers. Taking a seat beside the playcentre so Kaelen could envision himself playing in the area and ask me only a thousand times if the cleaning crew was finished yet, my eye was caught on the dynamics being exhibited by the family across from us. There were four children who though rambunctious, were really cute and good towards one another. The mom by the looks of it was perhaps having a bad day as she wore a perpetual frown for the half an hour. When it came time for the family to leave, one of the children started cleaning up their spilt french fries when the Mom in all of her wisdom said, "Don't bother with that - one of the idiots behind the counter can clean that up". Um ... excuse me? Did I just hear that? Believe me, I was extremely hard pressed to keep my mouth shut with a rebuttal. All I could think was "Nice example you are setting for your children woman". It is important to me to practice what I preach. So, if I expect Kaelen to clean up after himself, then I too should do so. If I expect Kaelen to say please and thank you and treat people with respect, then I too should do so. So, hearing what this woman said went against my principles. Are those people behind the counter not people too? This is a fast food restaurant and for me anyways, that usually means that I am responsible to clean up after myself by dumping my garbage and return the tray to the spot provided. And ... what are those children going to learn if their mother calls people idiots and gives them the perception that some jobs are more demeaning than others?

Today when we were at the grocery store, we experienced another doozy. After buckling the kids up in their seats and in the process of buckling myself up, I heard a smack and the van literally shook from the impact. Startled, I looked around to see what happened only to discover that the elderly lady parked beside me, flung her door open which in turn smacked into the side of the van. Stunned, I waited to see if the lady would look at me and either apologize or look sheepish. After a minute, I realized that she had no intention of doing so. So, I let the window down and said, "Excuse me, do you realize that you just hit my van?" Her response: "Oh?" Giving her the benefit of the doubt I commented, "Yes you did. It kind of startled me as I think that you may have hit it a little hard". Her reply, "Well I am sorry dear. If it is such an issue to you, why don't you get out of your car and take a look at it". Okay. I am seeing red here. Maybe I approached this situation wrong but come on, I am not the one who did the wrong. So, I got out and checked it out and sure enough, a dent was made with paint coming off in the process. The elderly lady told me that it was no big deal and that I was over reacting. Umm ... hello ..... you just hit my car. If she were at least sincere about it, I wouldn't have cared and laughed it off. But the fact that she was so damn ignorant to me, I just wanted to argue with her there. However, I took the high road and just walked away; my children were in the van watching me and the last thing that they needed to see was me ripping a strip off of an elderly woman about respect and manners.

Perhaps I am truly super anal but I at least know how to admit fault and treat people with respect. It is important to me to let my children see that Mommy makes mistakes too. This past winter, when pulling into a parking spot, I nudged the van beside me. I could have walked away pretending nothing happened as there was no damage but I couldn't for two reasons: One is that Kaelen was with me and Two, that is not the kind of person I am. Instead, Kaelen and I stood outside for ten minutes in the freezing cold until the owner of the vehicle came and I explained what had happened and apologized sincerely. The owner was appreciative that I did that and it gave me an opportunity to teach my son to own up to mistakes and take responsibilities for them. When we are out about town, I go the extra effort to help out people who look like they need a hand if we are standing in line or in the parking lot. That is the kind of person that I was raised to be and that I in turn want my children to learn from me.

There have been other issues such as these two that have happened this week, I could share them with you but I would rather try to forget about them. So in an effort to get over this black cloud of lack of manners everywhere that I feel is hanging over me, when treating myself to a hot tea on my home from the grocery store today, I paid for the person behind me in the Tim Horton's drive thru. Perhaps they too had a black cloud hanging over them and it got lifted by a random act of kindness.


Andrea said...

I agree with you 100% and good for you for being a good example to your kids even though you had all those rude and inconsiderate people around you!! Seriously, there ARE a lot of people WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER!! out there and I just can't believe the things they do or say sometimes. It makes me EVEN more motivated to be a WAY better example for my children and to teach them respect, manners and to care for EVERY human being out there.

sari said...

It's really constantly surprising to me the way people act. You were right to feel as you did.

Sometimes it's hard to know whether to say something to people or not, I know.

I always feel like, you have to teach your children to do the right thing, even if no one else knows. It's not doing the right thing because someone's watching, it's doing the right thing even if they're not. Hard, yes?

I hope you enjoyed your tea, I enjoyed your random act of kindness. You've inspired me for today!

Breanne said...

Oh Allie. Good for you for not tearing a strip off of that woman. Seriously. I have found that people in the city are in their own little worlds and could really care less about others. I think coming from a small town may be to our advantage as to the way we think and treat others.