I can’t say I’ve been called an easygoing soul. Frustration, irritation, and overwhelming annoyance at rudeness or general incompetence – those emotions used to roll off me in waves, and I wasn’t very good at disguising them.
I was what BrightSide kindly described as overly emotional. Even I recognized (after the insanity passed) that my feelings hovered close to the surface, and it didn’t take much to make them boil over.
I won’t claim those emotions are long gone. It’s just that I’ve learned a little bit about taking a deep breath and counting to ten.
I can, however, claim to being a pseudo-expert in big time emotions, and time has led to my very astute observation that people today are entirely too grumpy. Why do I say this? Mostly because of the reaction I get from folks when I don’t go ballistic.
1) Last month I had an 8:30am appointment to do a stress test. Such an early slot meant leaving at the crack of freaking dawn because this particular hospital is more than an hour from my house. So I went, fighting work traffic the whole way, and settled myself down with a book in the waiting area. 8:30 came and went. Then 8:45, then 9:00. That’s when they told me they were having issues but were working on it. I started to get antsy at 9:15, and at 9:30 the receptionist finally called it. They had no idea how long it might take to get the bike working again, so we’d need to reschedule.
Was it ideal? No. It meant leaving home early and arranging for BrightSide to take both kids to school, but what am I gonna do? The bike’s either working or it’s not, and it clearly wasn’t. So I pulled out my calendar. That poor woman bent over backwards apologizing for the trouble and thanking me for being so flexible, then she comped my parking and even gave me a gift card for lunch. Clearly she was used to a lot more blowback when things go wrong.
2) We live in the south. You’d think people here would be used to a certain measure of courtesy, and yet I keep running into cashiers who seem genuinely nonplussed by unsolicited greetings. A simple “good morning” startles them into blurting out hello, but they always look a bit confused as to why I’m talking to them. What kind of world do we live in when a human being three feet away from me expects to be ignored?
3) I’ll admit that elevators are already a pressure cooker of humanity, an interesting environment for measuring how people react to odd behavior. But I’ve seen an unusual amount of confusion when riders are met with polite greetings, jokes, or conversation. It’s even funnier when two groups are joking around and there’s a third party standing awkwardly, staring at the floor or ceiling as if they wanted to be anywhere but in that small space. Who knows, perhaps we’re all supposed to take a vow of silence when we step on board.
4) We’re not what I’d call bizarrely friendly people. My family, that is. We go places, we’re polite, we say please and thank you and hold the door when someone’s coming in behind us, but I have a healthy concept of boundaries when it comes to strangers. Even so, I’ve found that simply smiling at certain people goads them into putting a little extra distance between us. They take a small step sideways, I guess just in case the crazy moonies attack them with love hugs or something.