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Me First!

I was carpooling with a couple of friends to book club last night.  The driver turned on her signal a mile before the exit to move over. The car in the lane we were moving into sped up and then maintained his speed right at a point we could not move over. For whatever reason, he did not want us to change lanes. We finally merged over, with the other driver honking at us all the way. And then as he passed us in the other lane, he honked even more.

This whole event prompted a conversation about the niceness of people these days. I’ve noticed as I’ve been out shopping, dropping off and picking up my kids at school, and eating out that people are just less *nice* these days, even with all the talk of paying it forward and random acts  of kindness. My experience lately has been one of outright rudeness, entitlement, and a huge “me first” attitude. It’s disheartening. Where did all the kindness and giving of a few years back go?

I have a theory. When the economy is bad, and almost everyone is in financial straits, people are nicer. They’re more willing to give. There is more of a “we’re all in this together” feeling. Since the economy has improved somewhat, that generosity and camaraderie has declined. Why is that? It’s so sad. Now, when people have more to give, they share a lot less.

I’ve notice it even in the line to drop off and pick up at school. Parents are cutting other parents off. Our principal was even cussed out by one parent at the beginning of the year. The principal was trying to keep kids safe and this parent went off. There is no respect or common courtesy for other people waiting. The good, family feeling is lost. It makes me so sad.

I’ve seen it in the malls and grocery stores. Impatient people making rude comments about other customers, baggers, checkers and clerks. People demanding discounts on top of discounts. Store employees flat-out ignoring customers while chatting away with other employees or on their phones. I’ve walked out of two stores in the last week where no one working there even bothered to say hello, much less ask if I needed any help.

I’m on a mission now though. One person doing small kind acts will not bring about a change in the paradigm of the whole population. But it will make me feel better. In rebellion against the entitled, me first attitude, I’m going to let people go in front of me in line at the store. I’m going to smile at the person walking down the street. I might hand some change to those people holding signs at stop lights. I will say “please” and “thank you”.  It doesn’t take much effort to just be nice. So there.

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