Friday, March 10, 2006

Be Polite

Last Sunday night, I couldn't sleep. So I rolled over in bed and turned on the TV in order to find something that would bore me enough that I would eventually just pass out. And there it was {insert sound of triumphant trumpets} televangelism. This should do it, or so I thought.

The preacher's name was Joel Osteen. He caught my attention because he was cute. And while I don't agree with his teachings (notable among them is that Christians should have special privileges in the world because we are higher beings: extending to first-class seats on airplanes, special sections in restaurants, and exemption from traffic tickets), I did buy into his message that night - which was "Be Polite".

He was talking about how easy it is to be polite to someone, and how it is the right thing to do - mostly because you don't know what has happened to that person before you encountered him. It is so much easier to be polite to someone, and you will more than likely get exactly what you need, as long as you stay calm, smile, and remember you are talking to a human being with problems, joys, sorrows and worries just like you.

"Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
- T.H. Thompson

So I thought I would give it a shot. Being naturally skeptical and usually walking around with a chip on my shoulder for no good reason, I thought it couldn't hurt. I figured I took up running to improve the outside of me, perhaps I should work on improving the inside as well. I began greeting and thanking bus drivers, holding doors for people, and smiling alot more. And it began to work. I felt better about myself.

Admittedly, there were a few times I slipped, like when the woman at Sweet Factory charged me $27.90 for a 2.5lb. bag of green M&Ms for my office. And when the panhandler approached me and asked me for money while I was talking on my phone. So I guess the message here is that it might be impossible to be polite all the time, but to make a conserted effort to be polite more often.

So that's what I am doing. And perhaps one day, when I don't trip someone who has cut me off while I am running, I will have killed two birds with one stone.


  1. I learned that lesson about 5 years ago, when trying to get home after a load of 5 canceled flights due to weather/mechanical issues. the poor girl at the USAir customer service desk was getting torn apart by bitching flyers, so I went and bought here a diet coke and snickers and low and behold, when it was my turn in line she bumped me to first class on the next flight out. It definitly works.

  2. I have a hard time being polite at times, but I have started trying harder.

    Another problem that I have is that my face doesn't always smile even when I'm happy. I seem to have this permanent grouchy look going on even when I'm perfectly happy. So, I really have to make (what seems to me at least) an exaggerated effort to smile just to be sure that I am actaully smiling.

  3. Isn't strange how you were feeling the big D yesterday and then today you changed your focus and you feel better.

    It's hard to get out of one's own needs and reach out to others without an immediate reward. Good Luck!

  4. I love the graphic on this post.

    I strive to be cordial to people all the time. Most times I succeed. It usually only fails when I'm in a bad mood myself. And one of my bigget pet peeves is people who aren't polite to me for no reason. No one seems to know what common courtesy is anymore.

  5. Sometimes it's hard to be nice, but I try.

    Work is a different story. You should try sitting on a floor with 85 unsocial book editors who prefer silence over casual conversation and actually look AWAY from each other so they don't have to make eye contact in the halls. It's hard for me not to take that energy out of the office and into the rest of the world.

  6. What were you doing at the Sweet Factory? Is that the place at the mall? Cause I tried to buy Sour Patch Kids from there once (so I could sneak them into a movie) and they cost like $15.00.

  7. okay, this is scary - i've actually met osteen... i grew up in tulsa oklahomo, and my dad taught at oral roberts university, and at kenneth hagin's ministries... eek. i met so many of these freaks. osteen is bananas.