Afternoon folks. Hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was excellent, but I won't bore you with the details, except to say that Mrs. B and I are one step closer to our new canine companion.
Instead, let me bounce a scenario off of you. Actually, it's one of my major pet peeves - the assumption by one person that his time is more valuable than the person next to him. That's very poor Burnettiquette.
So earlier I ran down to the cafeteria here at 1 Herald Plaza to grab a coffee with a colleague. We were in a hurry, because we had to get back upstairs for a meeting with bosses. We got our coffee, we stood on line, and we finally made it to the register. Just as my colleague, who stood in front of me, extended his hand toward the cashier, so he could pay and bounce, a woman neither of us knew darted in front of him, scrunched up her face and shoulders in that I'm-sure-you-understand-and-approve-of-me-doing-this look, that look that feigns apology and at the same time seeks empathy, hurriedly told the cashier "I'm in a hurry - just have coffee," thrust a buck and a quarter at the cashier and then darted off. The whole transaction really did take less than 30 seconds. But that meant my colleague had to wait 30 seconds longer to make his transaction and leave, as did I, and the woman behind me. We were in a hurry too. But the interloper with the scrunched up face wouldn't have known that 'cause in her bubble, our time was apparently not as important as hers.
I could ask something like "where do people get off?" But even approaching the topic that way is a cop-out. It's deeper than that. Sure, it was rude. But it's deeper than that. I think the face-scruncher's action spoke to an ever present attitude, a lifestyle, in which some folks have grown completely accustomed to getting their way - in all things small and big - when they want their way, without consideration for the people who represent hurdles to them.
A couple of years ago, in a column for another newspaper, I asked Dr. P.M. Forni about this phenomenon. Forni, is an expert on how humans treat one another, and author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct (St. Martin's Press 2002).
Here are a couple of excerpts from what Forni told me back then:
- "Civility comes from the Latin 'civitas,' meaning city...The ancient world believed that living in the city had a civilizing effect, because you learned to be with others and you refined your taste.
- "According to the origin of the word, then, you are civil when you are a good citizen and a good neighbor. We are civil when we believe that other people's claim to contentment and happiness is as valid as our own."
Forni also told me then that inconsiderate people could be fixed. I'm starting to doubt it, once they reach adulthood.
What do you think?