Civility is not dead, merely on life support


I believe I’ve had occasion to rant here regarding my feelings toward airplane travel.

In as few words as I can muster, I believe that flying brings out the worst in people.

Especially on those “open seating” type of airlines. Ya’ll know which one I’m talking about. People will knock over little old ladies and run their too large roller bag over toddlers in order to get to that perfect aisle/window seat.

Very rude.

And then the folks who are unable to entertain themselves for the time they will spend on the plane require YOU to entertain them.

“So, you going to Albuquerque? You from there? What’s it like? Have you ever been to Santa Fe? Is it anything like Phoenix? How come I can’t fly into Santa Fe? What’s that you are reading? Why are you ordering tomato juice?”

You know the type.

When I fly, I usually bring a book, wait patiently, take the first acceptable seat and crack that book open right away. Then I hunker down for the duration, and hope for the best.

So imagine the the peace I found on the final leg of my trip home from New Mexico.

Everyone seemed on their best behavior. “Oh, it looks like your boarding pass number is ahead of mine. I’ll just slip behind you.”

And “Excuse me, I’d like to sit there” and “Oh sure, let me hop up for you”

In my own row, I found a good spot, had a brief interaction with the guy on the aisle, and took my window seat. Soon a very polite lady arrived and said, “Do you mind if I sit there in the middle” and we made room.

She got settled quickly and pulled out a magazine. The guy on the aisle pulled out a book. I was already immersed in mine.

The duration of the flight from LAX to SFO was quite calm and really very civil.

Upon landing and when at the gate, the guy on the aisle stood up and said, in a jokey way “Well, I hope I wasn’t too much trouble on this flight.”

The lady in the middle said (to both the guy on the aisle, and to me), “You know, I’d just like to say thank you, this was one of the nicest flights I’ve been on in a while. This was a great row to sit in.”

And I smiled and agreed, “Thank you” I said to both of my fellow travelers.

Wow. People do still know how to be considerate. And polite!

Those sort of folks sure are getting harder to find!

Do ya’ll remember Goofus and Gallant from the Highlights magazines for kids? I *loved* Highlights magazine! My mom was cool enough to get me a subscription!

Today: A Fable

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Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess…we’ll call her…Karenita. This lovely princess was married to the most handsomest prince in the whole land.

But unfortunately for our lovely princess, every weekday, she was required to go and toil away the hours at the Imperial Tower of Doom. Gray clouds swirled overhead while poor Karenita was tormented by her oppressors.

There was one oppressor who was particularly a thorn in the side of our beautiful princess.

See, our lovely girl arrives to work in the morning tired and in need of something for breakfast. The princess keeps some food in the Imperial Tower office ‘fridge, and also likes a spot of hot tea on the cold gray swirly cloud mornings.

Unfortunately for the princess, there lived in the break room a mean and nasty troll.

No really, this lady is like five foot nothing with a bad attitude and a chip the size of Texas on her shoulder.

For some reason, the Evil Break Room Lady can always sense when Karenita the Princess needs to have breakfast, and makes sure to hustle in there first, blocking the egress for our lovely girl to reach the ‘fridge.

While Karenita is there heating up her food, Evil Break Room Lady makes nasty comments about how people don’t clean up after themselves (despite the fact that Karenita scrupulously cleans up after herself) and self-importantly restocks the paper coffee cups (it’s not her job, by the way, she’s a very high paid executive admin) while dropping hairy eyeballs on the princess the whole time.

And then Evil Break Room Lady takes paper towels and cleans the countertops, sometimes pushing Karenita’s bowl out of the way while she does. Karenita finds this to be very rude.

It’s clear that Evil Break Room Lady doesn’t like Karenita, but Karenita doesn’t know why. The princess was raised to be kind and cordial and always says hello and thank you and excuse me.

Karenita believes that Evil Break Room Lady must be very unhappy with her menopausal lot in life, and all the hot flashes must make her cranky. Karenita thinks Evil Break Room Lady envies her still productive ovaries and plentiful estrogen.

The princess tries to be understanding, but it’s kind of hard when someone gives you the equivalent of the finger with her face every morning. Karenita is just trying to make it through the day.

The princess has tried to be nice, to make conversation, to say “yeah, it’s really bad when people leave water everywhere” but none of this works. Evil Break Room Lady has just determined that the princess is a lesser form of life.

And this doesn’t make Karenita feel very nice as she starts each day.

In other news, the nicest person to Karenita in all the Imperial Tower of Doom is the janitor. The janitor thinks Karenita rocks and will make it a point to wave vigorously from across the room and say hi.

Karenita likes Mr. Janitor. He’s a good man with a sucky job and he does it with life and verve and kindness.

So there’s hope. Maybe Karenita knows she’s not such a bad person after all.

And they all lived crankily every after.

The end of civility?


This, the next in my line of roadway rants. See my four way stop discussion here.

This weekend The Good Man and I had occasion to take a bit of a road trip. Just down Highway 1, a small jaunt in order to meet up with a whole passel of my in-laws. (passel being smaller than a gang but larger than a group)

As we drove, in many instances, we were forced to merge, to turn, to navigate our way carefully through the highways and byways of the Bay Area.

I noticed, as The Good Man drove, he always, very politely, gives a wave when someone does him the favor of letting him into a lane, or allows him to turn in a busy, congested area, or stops to let him through.

I also noticed that when The Good Man generously does the same for others, he rarely gets a wave of thanks and recognition in return.

Politeness, it seems, is on the soon-to-be extinct list.

This makes me cranky.

Sure, I know that a polite wave isn’t required by any driving laws. I’ll have you know that when I had to take that drivers safety class to work the points off from a speeding violation, it was often suggested that a polite wave was much appreciated by others on the road. That acknowledging each other actually makes us drive better.

Connectedness people! Put down your Blackberry and say hi to an actual person sometimes!

I shall tack on a quick rant: Upon employment here at my new job, I tried, in vain, for two weeks to say hello to the security guard on the first floor who I must walk directly past EVERY day. It seems strange not to acknowledge another human you see five of every seven days of your life. But he will NOT say hello to me. Will. Not. It kind of hurts my feelings…..