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Deciding on when to be nice

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I don’t know about you, but I find being nice to strangers is potentially a very awkward situation. There seems to always be this uncomfortable silence when doing something nice for someone. As if people are so accustom to the majority of society ignoring them that they don’t know how to react to someone being friendly.

Case in point and by far the most difficult one for me to figure out is the door hold. It occurs when you’re either going in or coming out of a door and someone is behind you and you decide to hold the door for them. The problem I run into is trying to decide as to what distance is an acceptable measurement to dictate whether to hold or not hold the door. If you choose to not hold the door, then it seems you are a selfish person who hates humanity, or too busy to spare a few measly seconds to offer up a random act of kindness, (as so many bumper stickers demand me to do). If you choose to hold the door open for someone and they are too far away, then suddenly this gesture of niceness becomes a burden upon them. They usually half run or speed walk to catch the door and you can always tell they’re a little aggravated that you made them pick up the pace.

Another problem seems to be the actual procedure for holding the door. If you’re a man, do always let the woman enter first? Do you enter before, if the person is also a man? If you’re a woman do these same rules apply? Is stepping inside and then preventing it from closing still count as the classic chivalrous act of standing on the outside holding it open as though you were a door man? Does activating the handicap automatic door opener for someone equal opening the door by hand? It’s all so confusing.

It doesn’t stop at doors either. What about the passing of strangers while walking. Do you say hello? Is a nod equivalent to a “good morning” or “good evening”? Is waving too much?  Does your environment factor anything into the equation, like not saying hello to a stranger on an elevator is acceptable but inexcusable when walking your dog in your neighborhood? And is the tight faced, plastic surgery, forced smile even worth bothering with? What sign or signal could that possibly send to anyone other than, “man, they sure hate smiling”.

On the subject of spoken etiquette, how long do you have to say hello, good morning and good night to co-workers? I’ve worked with these people for fifteen years, which means on average you’re saying hello, good morning and good night 254 times a year per person. Over a fifteen year time span that’s 3810 hello, good morning and good nights and if you say it to 20 people at your office that 76, 200 hello, good morning and good nights. Is it really necessary? If I didn’t tell you good night, would you think less of me? Sometimes the wife and I don’t say good night to each other and no one in my house ever says hello or good morning and we still love each other.

I guess deciding on when to be nice is a judgment call to be made by each one of us. It depends on our own insecurities, energy levels, mood and sensitivity. Do you get mad if the person you let cut in traffic doesn’t thank you with a wave? Then maybe letting people cut in front of you isn’t “your thing”. Perhaps you were born to be the angry, road rag, bad finger person. Like all acts of charity and kindness, if given in the spirit of reward they are meaningless. Insincere decency is an all around loser and a total waste. You didn’t care in the first place and it will be received in the same way. If you have it in you to be nice to strangers, then by all means warm the earth with your human sunshine, but if not then let it snow. Because everyone should be who they are, all the time and accepting of others for who they are.

Cut and dry, be nice or don’t be nice. Just be real.

Egg On,

Ramblin’ Rooster


Written by Ramblin' Rooster

September 11, 2008 at 3:25 am

Posted in Humor

Tagged with , , , ,

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