Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Acts of God and attitude.

SnOMG hit Chicago yesterday, starting at about 3 pm.  We got a dusting of snow, maybe an inch or two, overnight on Monday, but the real deal waited until Tuesday afternoon to start.

On my home from work on Tuesday (two hours earlier than normal, thanks to a company order), a coworker and I stopped at Home Depot so she could get a shovel for the impending "dig your car out from the snow" situation that will face all of us without garages.  Home Depot was calm, and although you could tell other people had the same idea, there was still a good selection of shovels.  After Home Depot, we stopped into Blockbuster to grab a movie.  Blockbuster was WAY busier than Home Depot and since no one really ever stops into Blockbuster anymore (except for me), there was one guy working the register and about 20 people in the store.  Since I'm a sneaky person who is really good at "cause and effect", I told my coworker "Let's make our decisions quickly and get into line before everyone else in the store gets into line." I mean, I'm cool with waiting in line, always, and especially during natural emergencies/acts of God, but if possible, I'll try to avoid it.  Also, the roads were pretty dicey and I really wanted to get her home so I could get myself parked at my apartment for the rest of the day.

We made our decisions fast and got into line behind about five people.  A woman ahead of us, when it was her turn, started giving the employee grief about WHO KNOWS WHAT and then she stormed off saying "It IS a IS a problem...I'm not happy!" and left the store.  My coworker and I looked at each other and said "Whoa...okay." and continued to wait patiently.  When our turn came up, my transaction went off quickly and seamlessly, however my coworker hasn't been to a Blockbuster in quite some time so she had to renew her membership and update her information.  The whole process took about three minutes, but as I was standing there, I saw a woman about eight back look outside, look at me, look at the back of my coworkers head, and shake her head disapprovingly.  At first I thought "She must be shaking her head in disbelief at the weather..." but then I started to think she was shaking her head at us.

Now, we can't say FOR CERTAIN that she was shaking her head at my coworker for maybe holding up the line for three minutes, but we can say FOR CERTAIN that people do that kind of shit all the time.  The place I work is affiliated with a university; it's the place people go to exercise. On top of student users, it's also patronized by community members (aka, non-students).  People were YELLING at our student workers today when they saw the signs that said we were closing at 3 pm on Tuesday and would be closed all day Wednesday. YELLING. At them about things outside their control.

I'm a big fan of always remembering that sometimes people do shitty things/act ridiculous/unreasonable because they've had bad days. I follow the advice of Plato who states "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." and generally try to be nice and patient with people even when they are being an asshole.  I have talked many a person down from a bad mood by just being patient and kind to them. I know quite a few people who do the same thing. I guess I still get SO surprised that people take things out on strangers.  Why can't we all just be nice?  I know "nice" is a generic term, for instance if someone says a person is "so nice" it usually makes me think said person doesn't have many other defining characteristics (ie - they are probably boring), but as I get older and realize it's sort of a rare thing, I start to feel a lot better toward the word "nice".

My challenge to you, dear readers, is to do something nice for someone this week.  It doesn't have to be a grand gesture (buying coffee for the person after you in line) but it has to be something spontaneous.  Try it and let me know what happens!

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