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.