Today I went to a cafe to write. I like writing in cafes, partly because of the good food and coffee, and partly because I like the atmosphere. It's also because if I have to listen to my wannabe musician neighbor play the same chord for hours at a time, I just might plaster his door with One Direction posters for all our other neighbors to see.
While I was writing, I noticed an old man with a cane hovering over my table. It made me uncomfortable, but I kept writing. Then a barista loudly asked if anyone would be willing to share or give up their table for the old man. Two men sitting nearby offered to share their table; they were very friendly and nice about it. But the old man just stood there; he was adamant about getting his own table. The barista kept loudly asking for someone to give up their table again and again. Finally I reluctantly said that he could have my table.
I told the barista and the manager that I had a right to sit there and I didn't appreciate being pressured to give up my table. Don't get me wrong; I know he couldn't sit at one of the high stools near the window. When I'm on the bus or train, I always give up my seat to elderly passengers. I try to help older people in other ways. Once I helped an old woman carry her groceries in the pouring rain. There's another elderly homeless woman who hangs out at a cafe near my apartment, so sometimes I put a few bucks on a gift card and give it to her so that she can buy food and coffee.
So it's not like I'm completely indifferent to the elderly. But I think if I buy something at a cafe, I have the right to sit down. I would never do what that old man did; that is, I would never stand over someone's table and insist that someone else give up their seat. In fact, I went to that cafe because the first one I went to was too crowded.
The manager and barista defended the customer, saying he was a regular. I'm a cafe regular too; I drink so much coffee that sometimes I start running around like Speedy Gonzalez. I don't think that regulars have the right to demand their own tables; I never do that at the other cafes I frequent. The whole situation made me angry.
I try to be nice to people, whether it's opening a door for someone with their hands full or helping someone in a wheelchair cross the street. I don't expect people to go out of their way for me, but it bothers me when people are rude, like the driver who screamed at me when I crossed the street (the sign said walk, so I thought it was okay) and then drove up beside me and kept screaming. It bothered me when some kid was running down the sidewalk so fast that he knocked me into the street, in the face of oncoming traffic. Instead of apologizing or helping me get back up, he and his friends pointed and laughed at me lying there in the street.
It bothers me when jerks shove me out of the way to get on the bus first, or when my neighbor refuses to be quiet at 3 A.M. (I asked) and then acts like I'm the one with the problem because apparently he's a vampire who doesn't sleep at night.
I try not to let it bother me, but it's hard to be polite when I encounter rudeness almost every day. I know that I should be mature and grownup, even when others are not. But sometimes I want to respond to their rudeness by giving them a taste of their own medicine. I don't, though.
What about you? How do you deal with it when people are rude to you?
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