Yesterday, a man approached my bar in jeans and a blazer, phone in hand. Maybe his dress has nothing to do with it, maybe it does. Anyhow, he hadn’t yet made it to the proper stranger speaking distance (AKA close enough to not be yelling at me as if I was his daughter or wife or close friend), when he shouted out something about “coffee” and “do I ask you or get it myself”.
“Hi! How are you?” I responded with a smile. After all, isn’t that the proper way to begin a conversation with someone you’ve never laid eyes on?
“Coffee?” he said again, in question form this time, obviously confused by my politeness.
“How are you?” I asked again. I’m a stubborn biotch sometimes.
“GOOD” he shouted. He was annoyed. I smiled and said I’d bring it right over.
“Thank you so much,” he said as I placed the cup in front of him. I was even nice enough to bring the creamers he hadn’t asked for! “I’m not polite until I get my coffee.”
For those of you who don’t know, I bartend in an airport. While these kinds of people are found everywhere, I feel like major international airports are breeding grounds for a whole other kind of crazy. If you travel often, people watch. Listen to questions asked, conversations had. Entertainment, guaranteed.
Sometimes I think it’s me. I deal with this sort of rude stupidity so often, the lines begin to blur. Am I miserable today, or did that asshole really flail his hands in the air SOS style because he wanted another side of hot peppers? Are all these premature gray hairs the result of my own anger issues or am I really being aged by moron customers?!
Manners are a dying art, people. We don’t care how others are doing anymore. You see a body behind the bar, the counter, the desk, and you bark a demand. We hear a voice on the other side of the phone and we simply tell them what we want. We don’t see each other anymore.
Oh, you’re having a shit day? Oh well, I’m thirsty.
Even worse is when we come across someone who takes the thirty seconds it requires to ask “how are you?”, we are automatically amazed at their good manners and simultaneously think they are one of the kindest human beings we have ever encountered. It’s important to acknowledge the good in others, but it shouldn’t be so uncommon that it drops our jaws in euphoric disbelief.
While I am guilty of burying my face in my cellphone during several hours of the day, I put it on silent when I step into the nail salon, or a coffee shop. Once in a while a customer will ask me for another drink. When I ask, “what were you drinking?” they’ll furrow their brow and tell me “again”, never realizing I wasn’t even their bartender. That girl with hair down to her elbows (mine is a pixie) was. I want to breathe in the world around me. I want to look someone in the eyes when they’re speaking, and I want to recognize their smile the next time I step into that bar, or coffee shop, or nail salon.
We have to slow down. Before we can expect something of others we must first expect a few things of ourselves: kind heartedness, recognition, appreciation.