A few incidents this week have brought rudeness back into the limelight - actually, in two of these cases the actions were downright hostile!
By now I'm sure you've all heard about the Jet Blue flight attendant that had had enough. If you haven't heard about this or seen it on the news, here's the summary: some jerk on this flight decided that he was going to retreive his luggage from the overheard bin before the plane landed. When the flight attendant informed the passenger that he needed to return to his seat, the jerk ignored him and in the process of retreiving his luggage, hit the attendant in the head. When the attendant demanded an apology, the jerk called him an M.F.
Well, the flight attendant had had it at this point. So when the plane was firmly on the ground the attendant got on the PA, called out the extremely rude passenger, grabbed a beer from the beverage cart and pulled the string that activates the inflatable raft - and proceeded to exit the plane by slide, thereby ending his 20-year career.
Here's another one: a woman who worked in a brokerage firm had also had enough of working as an assistant to a broker named Spencer. The last straw came when she overheard him call her a HPOA to someone else (I didn't know what it stood for either - hot piece of a...). So what did she do? She quit via dry erase board, (see photo above, too) posted it through e-mail, and called out her boss for spending an exorbitant amount of time playing "Farmville" at work (something like 19.5 hours a week!). BAZINGA!
Of course, this last story goes beyond rude to dangerous - have you seen the "McNugget Rage" video? It's incredible. Appparently last New Year's Eve some chick went bonkers because the McDonald's she frequented didn't have Chicken McNuggets available - at 6 in the morning. I'm sure you've all guessed by now that she was completely wasted, but that's no excuse - and the tirade lasted a LONG time! She actually got out of her car, punched the drive-thru worker repeatedly, and broke the window with her hand when they slammed her fingers in it (out of their own safety). It's NASTY.
So what's going on here? Are we so stressed out that we've forgotten how to behave? I mean seriously - who reading this post would ever go so far as to call a flight attendant and "MF" just because he's doing his job? Who IS this guy? If I were that flight attendant I'd have quit too, although probably not as creatively as he did (unfortunately, the attendant DID break several federal laws, so he was arrested. But Jet Blue, his employer, waited to call the authorities until he was home, so they obviously sided with the attendant!).
And can you imagine, in 2010, calling your assistant a "HPOA"? What is this, Mad Men? Is this how far the pendulum has swung back? I knew feminism was dead, but wow. This guy deserved to be called on that, and called out for his time-wasting (ironically, he was the guy who installed the "office snitch" software in the first place!).
The last incident needs no explanation. It is indicative of a society that's out of control - of our emotions, our behavior, our decorum.
I have no idea how to fix it, but I think it's fascinating that we as a country apparently have no filter anymore. Of course, these are isolated outrageous incidents (which is why they made the news), but I'll bet that every one of us can single out an incident of our own where someone was so rude, it left us speechless. I'll give an example:
Back in November or December of 1998, I was working at Waldenbooks. I had just started about three weeks' prior. I was working with a customer to find the title of a book and I asked her if she knew the author. (Side note: I have total recall when it comes to song titles, book authors and the like. I had never heard of this author before - it was an unusual title). She proceeded to read me the riot act, asking me directly why they hired me because apparently I was too stupid to work there; that I was a product of our failed school system, etc. Fortunately my boss overheard her, took over the transaction and told her we couldn't get the book (we probably could have). Of course, I almost cried (I've developed a far thicker skin these days, by the way) but my boss Paul (one of my FAVORITE bosses EVER - thanks Paul Gieschen!) told me that if I ever need to, I could just go in the back and "silent scream" it out.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, have you ever noticed how a place brightens when a customer treats a worker with respect and a positive attitude? Everyone feels better! It may even make the other customers in line smile a little bit, and the worker certainly will pass on that goodwill to others in line. It really works and honestly, how much more effort does it take to forget about our own lives for a second and just show some courtesy? Forget that we're having a bad day, or we don't feel well, or we had a fight with our spouse. The worker doesn't know that, so why should we pass on our bad karma to them? And speaking of that, the "MF passenger", "Spencer" and the "McNuggets lady" all have some interesting surprises in their future - karma is a wonderful thing. :D
I propose this - the next time you're having a bad day, be the cheeriest person EVER, even to the point of saccharin overload, but without sarcasm. Take that saccarin-sweet attitude and pass it on to the gas station clerk or Walgreen's employee. I'd be willing to put money on the fact that you'll feel better, and so will they.
I think it is our duty as citizens of Earth to make the world a nicer place. Forget the true meaning of life - I think this is it. If every one of us tried to live by this code, imagine what a lovely place it would be! I know I'm living in a fantasy world but I'm seriously going to try and do my part. Who's with me? :D