Common Courtesy

I had a conversation with my voice teacher about my upcoming concert where he told me that I needed to have a clear cut point of view about how I wanted the concert to sound.  And I expressed that one of the things that scared me was being labeled a diva.  Yes I throw that word around lightly at times – but really it is more about me owning the title so that I am not labeled with it by someone else.

Then today, I was at Target at lunch and I was walking in the aisle and was cut off – I mean I had to come to a dead stop – because a man was not paying attention and cut me off.  And then I was pushing my cart down another aisle and was held up as a man stopped his cart IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AISLE and walked to the other end of the aisle to pick up something.  THE OTHER END.  He couldn’t take his cart with him?  He couldn’t push it off to the side?  And then finally as I was coming back to the office, there were 3 men leaving for lunch.  Walking side by side and when I refused to plaster my large body to the wall in order for them to continue taking all of the space, one of them said to me “Watch it!”  I had moved over to the wall, but apparently that was not enough.

All of this is not to say that I am tired of men.  I could,  but I won’t.  The issue is the double standard of an aggressive woman being a b***h and an aggressive man being “just how guys are.”  And really how aggressive was I being taking up my side of the hallway in the office?  Or my half of the aisle in the store?  Or requesting someone look around the corner prior to jumping into the foot traffic of a busy Target 1 week prior to school starting?

I am very opinionated – I admit it – and I bite my tongue more often than not for several reasons:

  1. It is not worth the fight.
  2. The other person is not worth the fight.
  3. I know that my opinion is in the minority and therefore not worth the fight.
  4. It is a situation where starting that kind of conversation is inappropriate.

It is this last one that brings me to my last antidote.  And it is not about a man this time.  But when it came to this conversation, I was angry.  Upset.  Red-faced.  And very, very silent as it was totally inappropriate to tell this lady how I felt about her.

I mentioned that I was at a bridal shower recently and there was a conversation about my upcoming concert and someone asked me about the show.  And I was telling about how I picked the topic – a hot button topic in churches today – and someone at the table started a 10 minute (no exaggeration) tirade on how she was against the topic of the concert and how she couldn’t understand how anyone could like my subject and how unchurch it was.  On and on.  After I made it clear that this was the topic of my concert.

And my reaction was to get very very silent.  And look down at my plate.  And say nothing.  Because it was inappropriate to say anything more.  So I waited her out, and when she finally realized how she sounded and that I was obviously not happy about it, she started to apologize.  And I told her, very nicely, that she was entitled to her opinion.  And I walked away.

Now, had we not been in this setting, I probably would have said something.  And I would have gotten mad and asked a lot of questions to make her start to really think about first her opinion and second her need to say it there and then.  And I would have walked away thinking “hope I don’t see her again.”  And she would have walked away saying the same thing.  And we both would have been right.

All of this brings me to this question:  When does bad behavior become aggression?  When does someone not having the common courtesy we all expect from other people cross the line to rudeness?  And if our reaction to someone else’s rudeness is to get angry – where is the line for us to not cross and be just as bad as they were to begin with?


1 thought on “Common Courtesy”

  1. Our Target is full of either families with young kids or the older folks from the nearby retirement community. I’m often being run down by kids or stopped/cut off by an older gentleman or lady. I’m used to it. Having horrible days of my own with sick kids, and having grandparents with dementia and hip problems, I’m also aware of how people can just be so preoccupied in their own *stuff* that they forget to say “excuse me” in their rush.
    I find all it takes is a pause, a deep breath, and a smile their way to remind them (and myself) that we’re all human beings just trying to live in the same spaces at the same time.
    Much like those commercials where one person’s rude actions piss off the next person and they in turn do something rude, I’d like to think I can stop the cycle more often than I perpetuate it.

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