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    Default If You Are Afraid Of Wolves, Do Not Go Into The Forest

    I was originally going to hold off on posting this article, and now that it is several days old, it seemed even less likely to be posted. Until a phone call I made just a few minutes ago regarding a claim I am filing with the moving company. Although I did not loose my temper with the agent I spoke with, I was not pleased with the direction that the conversation started to take, particularly since there has been no action taken. I filed the original complaint 10 working days ago. Re-reading this article has given me cause to reconsider some of the unpleasantness that might otherwise enter my head:

    Let's stop the vicious cycle of rudeness Hold your tongue -- it's time to return to civility

    Susan Schwartz CanWest News Service July 26, 2005

    MONTREAL - "If you are afraid of wolves do not go into the forest," the Russian proverb says. "We all live in the forest, and there is nothing to do but get used to the wolves."

    -- Randall Jarrell

    To my considerable alarm, I caught myself shrieking into the telephone the other day at Mary, a woman from the credit card company. Not just raising my voice: flat-out shrieking.

    Here's what had happened: Although I'd written a cheque for $1,454 -- the amount on my June statement -- only $14.54 had in fact been received, according to my July statement, which included a nice fat interest charge, along with notification that payment was past due.

    Mary, no doubt reading from a script, was suggesting that the situation was somehow my fault -- and therefore that correcting it was my responsibility.

    One too many times, she told me that I needed to call my bank and get a copy of the cheque. Infuriated, I lost it, no doubt causing poor Mary to ask herself what she had done to deserve my ear-splitting shrieking. It was with what I am sure was considerable relief that, at my request, she passed me to her supervisor. Eric's immediate mea culpa, delivered in dulcet tones, calmed me at once.

    But I was shaken by what had happened. Yikes! I thought: I was so rude. I am becoming one of those people of whom I am scornful and contemptuous for their rude demeanour, for the uncivil ways in which they conduct themselves. No, wait: I am one of those people.

    A woman of a certain age told me the other day that she sets off the metal detector when she goes through airport security because she wears stockings with garters and a girdle. Yet she continues to wear the girdle, she said, because she believes in holding things in.

    This as distinct from people who believe in not holding things in -- in letting too much show: too much skin and too much impatience; too much offensive behaviour and too much bad-manneredness.

    What is it with people who call, then put us on hold, who saunter across the street against the light, daring us to run them down, who slide into parking spots we are in the course of backing into and push in front of us in line, who crack their gum, talk on their cellphones in restaurants, and generally treat the public domain as their private washroom, picking their teeth and cutting their toenails.

    "Every day we all encounter countless acts of selfishness and bad behaviour," Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh observe in their 2003 etiquette book, The Fabulous Girl's Guide to Code Red: A Guide to Grace Under Pressure.

    "Whether it's a friend who is always late, a mate who forgets to introduce you at parties, the stranger who cuts you off on the road or a colleague who takes credit for your work, etiquette is at an all-time low. At a time when we so desperately need civility, we find an intense focus on personal satisfaction in its place. Although bad manners are not appealing, they are increasingly common. And who wants to be common?"

    Lots of people, it seems.

    Letitia Baldridge, who was chief of staff and social secretary for Jacqueline Kennedy during the Kennedy administration, reported recently having seen "a woman pull out a nail file to dislodge something from her teeth. I had to wonder what forest she had crawled out from."

    Kristin Jenkins, a Toronto writer, included this caveat in a piece on flossing: "Please note, however, that flossing in public is not a great idea. Flicking bits of dental debris at friends and strangers is not only a turnoff but also just plain rude."

    There are sections in the latest edition of Judith Martin's Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior -- Freshly Updated (W.W. Norton & Company, $51) not in the 1979 original --sections with names like Common Courtesy for All Ages.

    One called Basic Civilization features a letter from a reader whose 87-year-old father-in-law was in hospice care. He had some dementia, but was mostly lucid. The reader had gone into his room to hear a conversation, in full voice, between one of her sisters-in-law and a staff nurse about time frames, in terms of the older man's life expectancy.

    To the reader, this was "an egregiously vulgar conversation to conduct within earshot of the patient," to say nothing of "a vulgar violation of everyday manners." Miss Manners agreed.

    "There is nothing petty about the etiquette involved -- and grossly violated -- in this situation," she noted. "It addresses the fundamental principle upon which the entire noble field of manners is based: respect for human beings, simply because they are human beings."

    As much as I loathe rudeness, I hate the way it causes me to view myself -- like some kind of cranky captain in the manners police, someone who has to bite her tongue to keep from returning rudeness with rudeness. Because there is already way too much of that.

    It is hugely challenging not to be rude to people who are rude to us, of course.

    "When someone butts in line, makes some disgusting sound or gives you attitude, all you want to do is retaliate," Izzo and Marsh wrote in their first etiquette book, The Fabulous Girl's Guide to Decorum, published in 2001. "In the most conservative reading of this rule, you must not.

    "You certainly may stand up for yourself and let the rude person know that you, in fact, are next in line. You may also let people know that they have hurt your feelings with their behaviour, but you must try to express this in civil terms."

    As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav observed: "The entire world, all of it, is a very narrow bridge."

    We need to be more considerate than many of us are and less abrupt -- and more aware of the effects of our behaviour.

    To Mary, wherever she is: I apologize for shrieking -- and I'm sorry I didn't hold it in.

    Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    I kinda think that screaming and going off gets things done sometimes....Just gotta pick ur battles as well as your battle weapon with some common sense....

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    Quote Originally Posted by turnout733
    I kinda think that screaming and going off gets things done sometimes....Just gotta pick ur battles as well as your battle weapon with some common sense....
    Truer words were never spoken
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    Working in convenience stores,you meet lots of folks that expect that you don't understand what they are saying or that you should be able to change the prices just because another shift had the authority to do so for them with the boss' knowledge.
    I've often asked people if they relaized that everybody is pretty much on the same level with smarts.We just apply them to different jobs and skill levels.
    It beats telling them,"Hey,if you think running this frappin cash register is so easy with someone distracting you while you are correcting a problem,you come back here and do it."

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