Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Damn you, Dr. House!

Is common courtesy dead? Has the teat that supplies the milk of human kindness been suckled dry by the chapped lips of human misery (How's that for a metaphor?!?)? Is there no chivalry left in America? Can I write this whole post in generalized rhetorical questions?

Probably not. In all cases.

To my point, though, as I know you have been wondering whether there is one: Are there any friendly people left on this planet?

To wit: Today, Floyd and I were on our morning constitutional, and no less than five people were greeted with a hearty "Hello! How are you today?" by me, the man with the perpetual sunny disposition (HA!). And on no less than five occasions, we were rudely and summarily, rebuffed. Nothing. Not a courteous "Wonderful! And you?", or even a discourteous nod in my general direction. Silence. No response at all. Head down, they kept on walking.

What the hell has happened in America? Is it to the point where we have all been stupified by a sudden onset of unabashed misanthropy, or are we so deluded by our own crass feelings of smug superiority that a simple salutation is considered far too much effort to exert? Have we no souls left?

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to imply that I am the embodiment of kindness. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with me is privy to the knowledge that I am most certainly not. But I am not so devoid of manners that I am unable to at least smile politely and feign benevolence and offer a kind word back to this person who is merely trying to be friendly. Even if it is wholly disingenuous, I still make the attempt.

I guess I'm an anomaly. I am the kind of person who still holds doors open for people. Certainly for women, but also for men. Although I have often debated internally whether I am obligated to do so for the man. But I do. Because that is how I was raised. I was brought up to believe that being kind and courteous is not an option, it is a requirement. Even if it is your mortal enemy, perhaps the one who stole your girlfriend in the eighth grade, and then proceeded to try and steal each successive girlfriend from thereon in (I'm looking at you, Art Murphy), you must still be kind to them.

I suppose it can be seen by some as a character flaw. A fatal defect in my DNA. It makes me completely useless when it comes to confrontation, that's for sure. I am a professional doormat, who allows himself to be walked over at the slightest hint of a "situation". But that's just my nature. I am generally affable and easy to get along with. And I must accept that with that comes the ability to be taken advantage of and very easily dismissed.

But I guess trying to transfer my morals and standards onto others is a losing proposition. "That dog just won't hunt," is what someone might say (although that someone is nobody that I would ever associate with).

I am simply amazed at the total lack of friendliness being exhibited in this small town. Hamlets like mine are supposed to be the kind of place where you walk down the street and everyone is genial with everyone else. But instead, everyone here seems to be pissed off at nothing in particular. Just pissed off. That they are stuck here, probably. That they never fulfilled their dreams of casting off the yoke of country living, and becoming big city people. Their dreams of getting out of this one horse town. (To be truthful, we don't even have a horse. There is one, but it's a giant toy rocking horse that sits in the center of the VFW parking lot. I suppose one Shetland pony town is a more accurate description. Or perhaps one llama town.) They dream of city living where, paradoxically, general and wanton disdain for anyone and everyone else is not only accepted, it's de'regur!

I'm guess just disappointed with how this cozy, quaint, amiable, lovely little town has slid so far downhill, that it is no longer recognizable to someone who has lived here for so long. All I wanted was someone to simply acknowledge my greeting. Is that so much to ask? I mean, honestly?


Dear Lord, not you guys too.


Sra said...

First of all, I love that you used the word "constitutional" to mean walk. That's so Virginia Woolf.

Secondly, I admit that I rather like being left alone when I'm walking about. But, if someone does say hello to me, I never snub them and always say hello back. Unless of course it was a drunk hobo, then I find it best to keep my head down and pick up the pace.

I'm reminded of my brother's ex-girlfriend, when they moved to Manhattan, she complained that even customer service people were mean to you. She was like, "They don't get that the point of customer service is that you HAVE to be NICE to people!" It's true, there's a lot of cold distant people in the world, and I can be one of them from time to time. But it's because I don't like pretending that I actually give a damn how the stranger walking down the street is doing.

I guess I have a bad attitude.

Loralee Choate said...

I like being left alone too, but I would NEVER snub anyone that spoke to me.

It's a pretty friendly place where I live, though.

Adam said...

sra: Wow. Hope I never meet up with you in a dark alley. You can't even fake being congenial? Well how do you explain your comments here? Zing!


Loralee aka Kojak: I revel in my alone time too, but a friggin head nod was all I was asking for. Apparently it's too much for the likes of Sra. :)