Mister Nice Guy

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I heard a life tip the other day that I thought was valuable: “Never be the worst part of someone else’s day.”

In this increasingly-alienated world of ours, I find that to be good advice. I’m reminded of it because of something I’ve been experiencing a lot recently, and that is service personnel complimenting me on my behavior.

Now this is going to sound like some kind of weird humblebrag, but honestly, it isn’t. I’ve been struck by the experience, and I think it’s worth sharing. In a short span of time, several strangers have made a point of telling me how polite I am. For instance, a cashier at Curry Up Now, a local Indian food joint, said to me at the cash register: “I want you to know how much I appreciate your courtesy.” And just yesterday, when I was picking up my trio of dogs from their boarding center, the woman said, “You are so courteous and sweet. I’d be happy to do anything for you.”

Here’s the thing though: I’m not excessively courteous or sweet. I’m simply decent. And I think the gratitude I’ve been witnessing has a lot more to do with the discourtesy of others than any extraordinary wonderfulness on my part.

To be clear, I’m not going to win any humanitarian awards. I never ask a stranger how their day is going (i.e. “How are you?”) The reason is I don’t care. Nor do I expect them to care about my day. This kind of false pretense bugs me, and I’ve never participated in it. I care very deeply about how my family is doing, but that’s kind of the water’s edge for me. I’m never going to check in with a stranger to make sure things in their life are going well.

In the same vein, I don’t expect them to stumble all over themselves to check in with me either. Indeed, one thing that drives me right up a tree at restaurants is to be asked every 37 seconds how everything is, how the food tastes, and so forth. If I need something, I’d rather just politely and respectfully summon a service member over to the table. Other than that, please leave us alone.

But getting back to my nomination as the Most Courteous Guy in Silicon Valley award – – my view is that in recent years, youthful arrogance has soaked into this area like sour milk into a sponge. Each time I’ve been thanked or complimented for my courteous or respectful behavior, I will ask the person……….how are other people treating you that would merit such gratitude? And, without exception, they tell me that other people act like self-entitled dildos (OK, that’s my own description, but you get the idea) whereas I actually treat them like a human fucking being.

Slopers are a self-selecting group, and I daresay the vast majority of you exhibit the same decency that comes naturally to this southern boy. The people behind the counter are just like you and me, with the difference being their job sucks. There’s no need to add to that suckiness by being a choad.

I feel embarrassed for the rest of the residents in this area to know that they treat service personnel like robots or inferiors. It’s disgusting. And it’s important that none of us contribute to such contemptible disrespect to our fellow travelers.