Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mean People

I have been dealing with a lot of stress this week.  Tonight it finally got the better of me when I tried to open a new bottle of apple juice.  They put the lids on so tight and I couldn't get it off.  R was in bed so I couldn't ask him to do it.  I couldn't find the gripper thing either.  I ended up making a few frustrated, unsavory remarks to the bottle.  Luckily it was just a bottle and wasn't offended.

But if it had happened when I was in public, what might I have said to a stranger who inadvertently did something to cause me more stress?  Let's face it, we have all been there.  We try to be good, kind, polite people...but sometimes life can just pile up on us and stress speaks for us.

I recently read an account of someone who had something very unkind said to them at a show.  They didn't understand why that person was so mean to them.  Naturally people came along and made comments to the effect that some people just live to make other's lives miserable, and some people have no manners, etc.

But can we really judge a person that harshly based on one momentary encounter?  I am not in any way condoning such actions, but I think we need to stop and ask ourselves if there is something larger going on. 

Not that long ago a young man made some very rude remarks to me because I got in his way. The type of remarks I wouldn't repeat in polite company...or even in the company of salty sailors.  It was an accident, I hadn't meant to.  When he started cursing at me, I took one look at him and knew something was going very wrong in his life.  A part of me just wanted to hug him and tell him that it would be ok, but of course he wasn't mentally receptive to that and probably would have slugged me.  What I didn't do however was respond in kind.  He clearly had problems and didn't need me adding to them.  What he said was just words, it didn't mean anything or change my life in any way.  I didn't even let it ruin my afternoon.

I don't really believe that most people are one dimensionally mean all the time.  Sure I suppose there are a few, but even then I think there is something that has happened in their lives to make them mean.  Usually it's some type of fear.

As for people with no manners...well maybe they weren't taught to be respectful.  But again that follows a chain of events back to the person who didn't teach them.

I know it's difficult when someone is mean to us and we don't know why, but remember they are people...and sometimes people just go through rough times.  Being confrontational or saying mean things back doesn't help the situation.  Chances are later after the encounter they felt bad about it.  When you were mean to a stranger due to stress, worry or fear weren't you sorry later?  I know on those rare occasions when I let life get the better of me and I take it out on someone who doesn't deserve it and doesn't understand I was certainly sorry later.

While we usually can't go back and fix what we did in those instances, we can try to be understanding when we are on the receiving end.  And...I will try not to abuse my apple juice anymore.

Have a lovely day!  Hugs, K. <3


SilverNikNats said...

I completly agree, and very well put!

Katy Cameron said...

Oh I had an ex-manager of mine shout at me last week for something I had done (moving some of her old stuff from the cupboard belonging to my current project) I could tell she was really stressed, and having a very bad day, so I just calmly and politely told her I'd find somewhere else for it to go, then removed the pile from her desk and popped it away in another cupboard. She came and apologised profusely the following day, however I told her it didn't matter, as I had been that woman the week before, it was probably karma lol

Heather said...

Excellent post.

I have met very few people in real life who were mean just to be mean... most of them, as you mentioned, had something else going on in their lives. Once, I had a woman just start yelling at me in a department store because I was in her way... then she stopped, halfway through screaming... took a deep breath and told me her Mother was in the hospital, had just had a stroke, and probably wouldn't make it... she apologized too.
I couldn't blame her. My Dad was awful when his father was dying of cancer in the hospital... snapping at anything and everyone... he even yelled at some old people after HE had cut them off while driving (we apologized and explained for his behavior... and while we knew it wasn't an excuse for it, the couple understood). I know my Dad is good people... and I assume the woman was too... sometimes when so much stress is built up though, the first "wrong" thing that happens outside of the situation itself is where all that pent up frustration goes.

On the flip side of this... I find that people online are often meaner than anyone I've ever met in real life... and quite often, it seems like it's the bully syndrome coming out... because it can... because there's such anonymity on the web. It's kind of a dumping ground for really bad etiquette. I've pretty much stopped dealing with online forums because I can't stand how mean people are to eachother.

And hopefully my little bear isn't causing you any additional stress!!

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