Tag Archives: polite

The Jerk

On a recent trip to a grocery store, I had a most bizarre encounter with a fellow shopper.

I was pushing my cart down an aisle that was very narrow, given the shelves of potato chips on one side and an island of cases of soft drinks in the middle. Essentially, the aisle was divided into two one-way streets.

If traditional rules of the road prevailed, in theory, I was taking the correct approach. I was traveling on the right side of the aisle while oncoming traffic should have been on the other side of the Island of Coca Cola.

I was near the end of my one-way street when a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) turned the corner and chose to enter the same one-way street I was using… but in the opposite direction.

I watched him as he picked up different bags of chips and quickly put them down without tossing any into his cart. I sensed that something weird was brewing.

Then he paused, not making eye contact with me, still looking in the direction of the shelf. His body language showed that he not actively looking for anything anymore.
Something was up.

Was this a showdown of some sort? Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Humour, stories

Pre-Christmas Crowd Avoidance

It is a little silly the lengths to which I will go to avoid getting stuck in a pre-Christmas crowd.

The reality is that I don’t fear crowds. I just don’t happen to like what happens to certain people trapped in their hot parkas for too long, among dozens of other people trapped in their hot parkas for too long. It creates a bit of a pressure cooker effect that raises blood pressures and potentially spills over into an eruption of strong negative emotions.

When you add to the mix the ticking clock of Christmas approaching and stock flying off the shelf, it’s that wild card of not knowing when you might get caught in the crossfire of people whose attitude would get them a permanent placement (with glittering gold stars) on Santa’s naughty list, and a free gift card for anger management training.

Despite buying my first presents in August, making about a hundred lists and checking them twice, and stocking up on anything and everything that doesn’t go bad to reduce my number of store visits in December, there are still things that need to be bought at the last minute for the sake of freshness. I accept that.

But to minimize my exposure to people whose tempers need tempering requires strategy, problem-solving skills and a strong Internet connection. Not only does it demand shopping at off-peak times, but around here it also means dodging snowstorms, freezing rain and Ottawa Senators game night traffic.

To calculate the logistics of this early morning weekend run, it starts with a chart of the last minute items, the location of where I expect to find them, and Google searches to verify at what time each store opens.

I’ll then rearrange the order chronologically to try to be at each stop shortly after they open, to zip in and out before the crowds begin, and before the parking lots turn into inescapable mazes of vehicles parked in improvised spots. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour

When Did Taking Turns Go Out of Style?

“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.

I was the next person in line.

But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.

I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.

Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.

Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”

I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!

But also, important life lessons.

Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring

A Kinder, More Gentle Journey

A collection of lit tea lights, arranged in the shape of a heartWhenever I am on a flight, I find it interesting that when the flight attendants are delivering the pre-flight instructions, they always suggest to “take care of your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others”. As an analogy on life, I think it is a great one. I don’t think anyone will disagree that you need to look after your own interests first, but I think as a society we are losing sight of our friends’ oxygen masks!

One of the TV personalities I genuinely enjoy and admire is Tim Gunn, the mentor for the designers on “Project Runway”. I have always thought that he had a solid balance of gentlemanly cool, kindness, tact and diplomacy (while still being able to tell it like it is), qualities that I am continuously working to refine. I am almost finished reading Mr. Gunn’s book “Gunn’s Golden Rules – Life’s Little Lessons for Making it Work” and am even more captivated by his perspective on life because it truly resonates with me.

In his book, he provides tips and hints for “making it work” (his catch phrase on Project Runway) in all disciplines of life. Where he really struck a chord with me is his questioning of where good manners, kindness and respect have seemingly gone out of fashion.

I don’t think my parents and family spent a ridiculous amount of time in my childhood drilling the importance of “please”, “thank you” and respecting my elders. Things like shaking the hand of a grown-up always made me feel like a grown-up when I was being indoctrinated into such gentlemanly rituals, and I gobbled up all such learning opportunities they provided on my quest to becoming a young gentleman.

I do remember that before we went out, there was always a short “briefing” about how I should behave in this setting, which I think went a long way in establishing parameters and ways to behave, where and when appropriate. Sometimes they were followed up afterwards with a few footnotes of positive reinforcement or pointing out where I could do better next time. Knowing from such a young age that such distinctions existed made it a given in adult life and – I would like to think – show the respect we have for our peers in social settings.

I am not suggesting we all need to stand around in tuxedos, sipping tea, speaking in “Downton Abbey” dialects, but rather that day-to-day social graces like holding a door open, waiting one’s turn, waiting until people get off an elevator or public transit before storming in, should not be the abnormality. I don’t know of anyone who dislikes or disapproves of basic good manners, so why is it such a discouraging exception?

I find it interesting when random acts of kindness make the headlines. Shouldn’t a kind and gentle society be engaging in these all the time to such an extent that it shouldn’t make the news.  I am certain that there are a combination of factors and perceptions that suggest why that is, maybe it is a perception of a sign of weakness rather than alpha dominance in a dog-eat-dog world, perhaps it is just forgetfulness with no follow-up coaching on common sense, or perhaps have good manners really gone out of fashion?

In any case, I don’t think it is too steep of a price to pay respect to a total stranger by offering a smile, a nod and a “Good morning” when the occasion presents itself, or to say politely and gently “Excuse me” when someone runs into me with a grocery cart, in the hopes that it generates a reminder to people that they weren’t in fact raised in a barn. It may sound a bit of a Pollyanna perspective on things but I’d like to think that the positive energy of respect, honour, grace and generosity of spirit is contagious. If good manners really did go out of style, I would like to think that the tide could turn and they could come back in style… as most fashions eventually do!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, your likes and shares are most appreciated.
If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs