Can We No Longer Depend On The Kindness Of Strangers (Or Anyone, Really)?

When did being rude to others become acceptable? Whether it’s a husband making a snarky comment to his wife at the grocery store, or a person chit chatting on their phone while ordering food, it seems people have no qualms about showcasing their rude behavior these days. In fact, I would go as far as to say that being disrespectful to others is now the norm.

I have been mulling over this observation the last couple days after being on the receiving end of someone’s incredibly rude behavior. For people like myself, who are aware of the world around us and choose to treat people as we would like to be treated, it is baffling to see other people being so disrespectful, condescending, or plain old mean to others.

The idea of treating others the way you would like to be treated resonated with me more than it ever has, this past weekend. I consider myself to be a polite person. I open doors for people, say “please” and “thank you”, and try be patient when circumstances arise that aren’t under my control, like encountering long lines at the store, or flight delays. I smile and say “hi” to people walking down the street and have no problem giving up my seat for an elderly person. I’m not boasting about my behavior, I just consider these things to be the right things to do. Sadly, I feel as though I am one of the few.

I traveled back to Chicago for my baby shower this weekend. It was a short trip that started with a five hour flight delay and ended with an exceptionally rude interaction with an airline desk agent (the actual baby shower and time in between these two events was awesome). Flight delays suck. It’s a fact. No one wants to be thrown off schedule or have to sit in a boring airport. But it is what it is. My husband and I were in-line to try and get on a stand by flight after being told our flight was delayed, due to a part that needed to be replaced. While waiting in-line, I noticed the way people reacted to news of the delay, as well as the way they treated the airline attendant. It ranged from one man ranting that five hours of his time was NOT free to another, wondering why they couldn’t just get the missing part at Walmart. Sadly, the eye rolling, huffing and abrasive behavior toward the attendants was the go-to reaction from most of the passengers. Even though the missing part was not the fault of the attendant and the delay prevented us from flying on a faulty plane – which is probably a good thing. But for them it was all about “their time” and “their needs” being met, with little regard to anyone else. Needless to say, none of these people were on their best behavior, or even cordial behavior at that. I silently wondered about their behavior and tried to be as polite as possible to the attendant, who, at this point, was probably having a terrible day at work.

However, what really got to me was what I experienced on my return flight. I am six months pregnant and very uncomfortable. Swollen feet, achy back, huge stomach, you name it. I decided to go up to the desk agent and as what the airline’s policy was for pregnant women and pre-boarding. I had zero expectations. I was just curious to learn what the policy was. The attendant’s response stung and left me feeling completely baffled as to her behavior. In an incredibly condescending tone she responded “Ah, not unless you’re in a wheel chair. Why would a pregnant woman be allowed to pre-board? What, is it considered a disability?” I was floored. I calmly and politely responded, “Well, I’ve read that some airlines are kind enough to allow pregnant women a few minutes to settle in, as it’s a bit harder to get to your seat and get situated.” She turned to her colleague, rolled her eyes and laughed. I said “thank you” and walked away.

I had never felt so disrespected. Nor, had I ever experienced someone being so blatantly rude to me for no reason. A polite “I’m sorry, but it is not our policy to allow pregnant women to pre-board” would have sufficed. I was baffled at how completely unaware she was of her behavior, and how uncalled for her response was. I honestly felt hurt. After all, I had never done anything to this person, so why was she so mean to me? My husband tried to comfort me with “people are just rude these days.” It may be true, but it is not okay! I spoke to the airline about the incident. Mind you, this is a major airline that we use several times a year. The customer service people seemed just as clueless. They just kept restating their policy. They did not understand that it was not the policy I was upset about, it was the uncalled for behavior of the employee.

I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done to change this new trend. All I know is despite other people’s behavior, I can only continue to be kind to others and hope that that kindness gets passed on to the next person. Like a big blanket of kindness that will cover the earth. Hey, it could happen. ?

Ariela Coles is a Health and Wellness professional living in the Bay Area. Ariela considers herself a wellness nerd and is passionate about helping people become happy and healthy! In addition, she is obsessed with her dog, McGee, as well as all things London. Originally from New Orleans, Ariela also suffers from severe wanderlust, which has led her to visit and live in a number of cities around the world. For news, observations, tips and tools, on anything related to wellness, travel and life, check out her Blog, website, or follow her on Twitter.

Featured image via Shutterstock