Sunday, September 18, 2011

A little advice for those in need

I was just outside this morning scraping frost from the windscreen of the car. I love mornings like this. The colours are just starting to glow. It would seem that winter isn't quite here yet though. The forecast says there's some heat coming later in the week. I suppose that's good news for those who enjoy the heat. I am not one of those people. I don't like it freezing. But I love the crispness of fall.
Chester is great. He is quite the fuzzy black fur-ball now. He's as grouchy as ever. His checkup was terrific at the beginning of this month. He is such a little blessing. Twyla not so much today. She's spent the last couple of days sacked out with a pretty wicked cold. The usual sore throat, snuffly nose and a general sense of misery. Send some healing energy her way please!

Now, as I'm sure you are burning with anticipation about what I'm going to grump about, without further adieu...
Over the last little while I have taken the opportunity to allow myself some interesting observations. I've talked about this a little bit previously, but it came up again when a friend and one of Brad's Tai Chi students passed away about a month ago. He was taken by cancer, or rather an infection that he was unable to survive due to a weakened immune system from the treatment. It was very fast and terribly sad. Brian always had a smile and a laugh. Here is where I became a little taken aback. And perhaps my stone wall had a few chinks in it after that, but I started really noticing just how vile and rude people have become in general. I began thinking about manners...just the really common stuff. I wondered how I, with the upbringing I had to endure, managed to escape my childhood with a working sense of manners and others who probably never even met my parents became worse than animals in a zoo. How is that? I thought, well, maybe it's just that they don't know. So I'm going to give some advice. Some of it will seem obvious to you and maybe some of you may have noticed or experienced the same things. You are welcome to pass this crash course in the obvious on to anyone you feel needs it.
I'm going to start with what started it all for me. The passing of dear Brian and my experiences when telling people.
*When someone you know tells you that they have just lost (this means they died) a friend or a loved one do not be dismissive as though you just can't fathom why they'd be so upset. Don't change the subject. Don't be a wise ass. Don't say "yeah, my ______ died two years ago. I know how you feel (the comparisons can come later. At that moment, their loss is far too raw and new). Let me tell you something. It means absolutely nothing that you feel uncomfortable. It is about that person and their loss in that moment. This is really a time for you to shine and say "I am so terribly sorry. You have my deepest condolences. Is there anything at all that I can do?" You may then choose to offer a hug, a coffee ("do you want to go for coffee or tea and talk about it?"). You can tell them how sorry you are and listen to them talk about the person who has passed on. You can ask how the family is. It doesn't matter if you know them or not. No one in this situation wants to hear some slimy glib remark or quip and they definitely don't want to be dismissed and they will be left feeling very alone indeed if you are dismissive. If it is your own policy to deal with a loss with humour or a 'cest la vie' attitude, do not ever assume it is what someone else needs. If you notice distance after this behaviour, you will know why. You were a disrespectful lout.
*On to the next. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you find that you cannot, then say you are unable to do it. Don't just tell someone you will do something and then pretend to forget it. I can guarantee you that they did not forget it and anything you say you will do in the future will be met with disbelief or derision.
*To the girls out there (I have seen this happen MANY times) if you make plans with a friend, don't cancel over some guy. I don't know how guys are with this, maybe they have different rules so I can't speak for them. But when you cancel with a friend because some random guy asked you out, that is a real slap in the face. Conversely, if there is someone you make plans with only as a last resort and then cancel because you found something better to do, get over yourself. They know what you are doing and you hurt them every time.
*This is a big one for me. Hygiene people. Wash your hands, wear deodorant, do all the things that make it reasonably easy for other people to be in a room with you. There are times when you pass someone in the canned tuna isle and it's all you can do to get the hell out of there at a run. Everybody eats something with garlic in it and then that's it. No amount of brushing can help you. That's not what I'm talking about. It is the idea of smelling like a guy that's worked in the fields all day every day without a bath circa 1876 (you know...when there was no deodorant or soap really handy) and being okay with going out in public like that that is unfathomable to me. Manners are about making the people you are with, the people you care about, present friends and even future ones, as comfortable as possible. Having to hold your breath while you are in someone's presence is not conducive to comfort. Change your damn socks before you go visiting, for gawdsakes.
*Plain old please and thank you and excuse me. This is a real pet peeve of mine. The following words do not equal thank you: "kay", "okay", "good" and definitely not silence. Please seems to be a forgotten word altogether. And the art of shoving by, pushing in or brushing past is apparently the normal thing to do. There is a lot to be said for those who thank you when you hold the door for them. They make your day. I always make it a point to thank someone who has done this for me. Always. It doesn't matter what kind of day I am having. That person took the time to be courteous and it is your obligation to acknowledge that. Saying thank you when you are given something or someone does something for you is a means by which you convey that you are appreciative of their effort. You would be amazed at the service you receive when you don't treat people as though they are servants. No one wants to be treated this way. If you use basic manners and even a smile, you can change the entire day for another person. Along the same lines, if you go out of your way to help, say, a mother or senior struggling with a buggy or stroller, trying to get a door open and they give you a harried thank you, you have made their day just a little easier and they have showed you that your effort was worth it. It could change a lot of things that you will never know about. All you will have is the satisfaction of knowing that you were a courteous person that day.
*Don't talk about your sex life or delicate health or personal matters with strangers. Believe me, they don't want to hear it . It is hard to not have a horrified look on your face when the person you just met in line begins to tell you about tiles. I don't know if a lot of you experience this, but it happens to me all the time. I'm not sure what people think I can do about their...clogged drain...but I assure you, strangers in the line do not want to know about your plumbing issues.
*Please feel free to turn down the music in your vehicle. I don't know about anyone else, but having to sit through a three year long red light while some idiot next to me in a jumbo pick-up truck is doing his best to blow my windows out with his sub-woofers is like torture. Music is a very universal thing. There are not very many people who do not like music. But you can't assume that everyone appreciates the same stuff that makes your spirit soar. Said sub-woofers banging out some hip-hop hideosity is enough to make me go postal. I hate it. Same with in-car stuff. I was recently tortured all the way home while Brad listened to loud vintage Tina Turner, whose voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me (I like her eighties stuff...Thunderdome!). He thinks the vintage stuff is a cross between Diana Ross and Janis Joplin. I like Diana Ross but there are maybe three songs by Janis Joplin that I can stomach. The rest is just racket to me. I respect your appreciation of it. I feel it is just rude to force me to listen to it. Jazz is another genre that I cannot stand. I just can't, while at the same time Brad hates country music. I choose not to torture him with twanging guitars and Texas fiddle music out of respect. He chooses that no amount of torture is too great if he gets a new cd from the library and can't wait until I am not present. But know this. While I may have sat quietly whilst Tina screeched, the thoughts going through my head were of the postal sort. I can only imagine that most people feel the same. Along those lines, nobody wants to having music blaring in a restaurant while they eat. If you work in an eating establishment, turn down the volume!
*Don't assume that the person you are talking to doesn't know about something. I've come across several instances in the last little while, both my own and sitting in on others, where some person gets to talking about their "area of expertise" and just automatically came to the conclusion that no one else knows anything about the subject. As a result, anyone trying to say anything about the thing, even if they knew more than the 'expert' was instantly shut down. You can never know everything about a subject. I like to think that there is always something I can learn. And discussion does not mean argument. On the reverse side of this, playing the Devil's Advocate is just playing games. If you want to argue for the sake of arguing, don't.
And now some general advice on courtesy and common sense:
-Always give the courtesy wave when driving. If someone lets you in, say thank you.
-Always leave your number when leaving a phone message.
-Chew with your mouth closed.
-ALWAYS wash your hands before you eat or prepare food.
-Tell company appropriate stories. Always!
-Never tell racial jokes. They are not funny and they are not okay.
-Don't make out in public. It is disgusting. I'm not talking about a peck or holding hands. I'm talking about sliming someone in a public place. The exception might be a wife meeting her husband at the airport when he returns from Afghanistan. Keep the rest private please. And while we're along those lines, you really don't need to be clutching the ass of your girlfriend/boyfriend as you walk along in public. If you have those kinds of ownership issues, you should be getting help.
-Guys: Your little friend has not disappeared. You don't need to check it every five seconds. No diddling in public please!
-Don't spit on the sidewalk. It is disgusting, rude and vile. The only people who need to spit are farmers...which you would understand if you've ever spent time in a cow barn and left with the taste in your mouth. Keep your hanky handy if you feel the need to expel.
-As a matter of fact you do not have any rights as a smoker. Not to be inside. Not to be in a doorway. Take your cancer stick and go. Far away those of us caring about our health and that of our children do not have to share in your slow suicide.

I'm sure that each of you has your own list of lost manners and confounding behaviour. You've all had experiences in private and in public where another person made you gape in wonder at the level of their rudeness or audacity. This is no a comprehensive list. It is just a small group of my own summer experiences. There is no crime in behaving like a lady or a gentleman...meaning you don't go out of your way to do whatever the hell you want and to hell with other people. Put yourself in another person's place. Would you want to be spat at as you walk by? Would you want someone pushing past you? Would you want to sit across from someone who chewed with an open mouth? Or have your child have to walk through a cloud of smoke in a doorway? Of course not. What is behaving like a lady or a gentleman? It is having manners. It is showing compassion, respect, kindness and empathy towards others. It is making the person you are with feel comfortable to be around you. It is helping someone without being asked to do so. It is using common sense in your behavior.

You don't have to wear an ascot, kid gloves or a high collar (unless, of course, you want to). But you could at least try to behave in a manner that shows that we are not the ill mannered, rude, selfish and disgusting species that we appear to be these days. After all, we don't want to be caught picking our noses when the ships land and the Visitors arrive. How awkward would that be?

What's on the menu: Some sort of soup
Listening to: Twyla watching the X Files
Reading: 'Torment' by Lauren Kate
Viewing; Buffy (the series)
Goals: Serving sick Chickie