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.


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.


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!