Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Cult of Rudeness

I had a business meeting for a pretty big project yesterday afternoon. I had to get dressed up, put on heels, take the T and head downtown with two other writers with whom I am working.

The meeting was great, but the most telling part of the trip was that, at 30+ weeks pregnant, not a single person on the subway offered me their seat. Now, I am well aware that Boston is an extremely rude town. People always say that NYC is worse, but I can say, from personal experience that every time I get on a NYC subway, even at 24 weeks gestation, someone offers me their seat.

In Boston? Not so much.

At this point, I can kind of laugh it off. But the two men I was with were appalled and started to talk about it. I guess it is kind of amazing. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they do not want to assume. Maybe they are nervous I would be offended. The reality is, I would probably say no anyway. If I am still running, I can hardly feel justified taking a seat on the T. On the other hand, it is unquestionably rude.

I am not a communal living advocate. Nor do I expect to sing Kumbaya and join hands with anyone else, but over the past few weeks, I have been astounded by the number of people I have run into who are just plain rude. Blame it on living in the Northeast? Well, maybe. But the problem with that theory is that more than half these rude people were from Ohio (and even the South, bastion of "southern hospitality"), home of alleged bible belt Christian values.

While I am not suggesting we all pick up one another's tabs and give our seats up to anyone who enters the subway after us. I know we have to be practical. But when people are cheap or when they are rude to strangers, it starts a chain of reactions that only serves to make the world, which is already pretty miserable, even more so.

So, I say do a good deed. Pick up the lunch tab. I did so twice last week (and had it done once for me as well). Give up a seat on the subway to an elderly or otherwise needier person (letters in the Globe to the contrary notwithstanding). Bonus points for the fact that if it is me, I probably won't take it. Isn't that the very definition of having your cake and eating it, too?

The fact is, rudeness is often just a manifestation of people's own misery. So why not at least pretend to be civilized, decent people. Then maybe our society will enter less wars based on lies and elect less brain damaged monkeys. A girl can dream, right?


Kristi said...

Unfortunately, I think the problem you've described is only going to get worse. Our world has become so "me-centered" and self-absorbed that the thought of doing something kind (or even considerate) for others doesn't even cross the minds of many. It's sad.

Lis Garrett said...

I recall being about eight months pregnant with Jacob and getting caught in a torrential downpour at the grocery store trying to load my car and manage my toddler. Despite several people walking by, no one offered to help. I couldn't believe it.

I'm one of those people who will offer help to anyone and everyone. One time when I was in Target and a mom's toddler puked all over the place, I was the one who called for help and then helped the mom clean up her kid - all while I had Hannah and Jacob with me.

I just don't understand rude people.