We are in the middle of an epidemic.

It’s not the flu. It’s not ebola.  Not measles.  It’s a lot easier to fall victim to than any of those.

There seems to be a huge outbreak of rudeness going around lately.  And I’m worried more and more people are catching it.  So how do you prevent it from invading your space?

I recently met someone who shared her strategy in dealing with rude people.  Here’s a page from her chapter.

 

Always Be Polite

It was the beginning of “season” in Naples . . . the term locals use to describe the months between December and March when the seasonal people return and the tourists arrive.

I was in the waiting area of a car wash on a typical Monday morning.  People were reading the newspaper, checking emails, or quietly sitting with their thoughts. A pretty morning in southwest Florida.

Out of the blue everyone’s peace was interrupted by a large, obnoxious, overbearing man who approached the cashier and said in a loud voice, “You are ripping me off!”

The cashier said, “I’m sorry sir. What can I do for you?”

The man replied, “I want a $20.00 car wash. Not the $24.00 car wash you’re charging me now. Last year it was $20.00 and now that the snowbirds are back you’ve raised your prices and you’re ripping me off. I want my car washed for $20.00.”

The cashier replied again, “I’m sorry you feel that way sir but that’s the price I have to charge.”

The exchange went on a little longer. The man continued to be rude and overbearing. The cashier continued to smile politely and kept her cool through it all.

I wish I’d have taken four dollars out of my wallet and handed it to that obnoxious boor of a man.  I wish I’d said,  “If four dollars will cure your rudeness, I can handle it.”  But I didn’t.  I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

I’ve remembered the incident and especially the cashier so yesterday I returned to the car wash to find Nancy . . .  Cashier, Customer Service Representative, and Excellent Handler of Rude People.

IMG_1891

I introduced myself and asked if she remembered the exchange.

Nancy said it rang a bell and then she laughed and said, “There are so many people who make those kinds of remarks, they kind of all blur together.”

I asked her how she manages to keep her sunny disposition.

She said, “I just tell myself it’s THEIR problem. Not my problem. Because if I let THEIR attitude get to me, then it becomes MY problem. Maybe they’re having a bad day. I don’t know. But all I can do is be polite and not let it get to me.”

I’d just picked up a bouquet from the flower shop and instead of taking it home, I retrieved it from my car and gave it to Nancy.  I thanked her for waging her own attack on rudeness by retaliating with patience, kindness, understanding, and a big smile.

 

A New Epidemic?

Then I thought,  “If rudeness is so contagious, couldn’t kindness spread just as easily?  How about an epidemic of kindness?”

Simply say things like,  “Excuse me.  Thank you.  Please.  I’m sorry.  Can I give you a hand?”

Be helpful.  Smile.  Compliment.  Hold a door.   Return a shopping cart.  Lift a heavy bag.  Offer a kind word.

My hunch is that you are already kind and patient and complimentary.

You’re not rude.  You’re not part of this epidemic.

You are part of the antidote.

random-kindness

So what if each of us does just a tiny bit more?

Go out of your way for someone today.  Slow down and find a person who needs a smidgen of a boost.  Do something completely unexpected for a stranger and see what happens.

You’re never going to be that awful man from the car wash, thank goodness.  But a few extra random acts of kindness might prevent someone else from catching the rudeness bug.

Because the funny thing about kindness?  It’s highly contagious too.

In a perfectly lovely way.

What random acts of kindness have you participated in recently or witnessed? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!