Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Rudeness

I've heard that what we hate in others reveals what we really hate in ourselves. 

I stopped off at a bank on my way home from work to pick up some quarters for laundry. I was feeling pretty bad for how I had treated Scott the other morning when we were fighting over laundry. I didn't know we only had enough quarters for one load, and so was incensed that he had only washed the dark load - containing his underwear - and none of the light load - containing mine. (Yes world, you can now visualize our underwear!!). The kicker of it all was that I had enough quarters in my purse that if I'd known, we could have avoided the fight all together. But at the end of the day, I knew I was at fault, as I tend to do very little in the way of sorting and switching loads, letting Scott do more work than he need to. All in all, I was hoping getting quarters would be a nice gesture, especially if paired with sorting out the clothes before he got home from work (which isn't happening, because I'm typing this!). That's the most redeeming characteristic of our humanity - being able to see where our faults lie and be willing to fix them.

My bank isn't open late on Wednesdays, so I had stopped at a bank which I'd never been in before. I was getting the lay of the land, with the conversation of the lone teller and the couple at the counter wafting through the air.

It was a pleasant enough conversation from the outset, until she had difficulty locating the right account in the system. Even the questions she was asking seemed reasonable and ones that certainly weren't near as invasive as I would hope my bank is should I not have the appropriate inforamtion with me.

But he launched into her, accusing her of accusing him of forgery, of being a common criminal, of being rude. Every sentence he punctuated with spitting out her name (which I've changed). "Sherry, you're a bitch. You are being so rude, Sherry".  Those of us in line were feeling uncomfortable. His wife, after attempting to calm him, was so embarassed she walked out. The teller was in tears when she counted out his money.

"Why are you crying Sherry? I don't want you to take it personally, Sherry, but you are being a bitch".

With that, he walked out. Sherry called me up to the counter, and I could tell she was barely holding it together. Her voice cracked as she began to ask how she could help me. I told her it was ok if she needed a minute; it seemed like that was a rough transaction.  She nodded, took a breath, and then broke down. She rushed to the back. Seconds later, another teller came to help out, confused and completely unaware of why she was being sent up front by a coworker in tears. I tried to come up with a succinct explanation of what had happened without being rude myself, but there was little I could say besides: "What a piece of work that man was" The new teller sighed, and said: "it's been that kind of day". As I walked through the darkening streets home, I kept thinking about this exchange.

I couldn't believe how rude this man was being while accusing someone else of being rude (who clearly wasn't). Everyone in line could see he was the one being rude. Even his wife could see. How could he really believe that he was the victim in this situation?

I've heard that what we hate in others reveals what we really hate in ourselves, but I guess some are just too blind. 


  1. We can be really mean to the people closest to us sometimes, can't we? I am never as mean to strangers as I can be to my hubby (who does the laundry, by the way!).

    I think it says a lot about a person by how they treat people in the service industry. I always try to be as nice as possible to the people I deal with every day - sometimes that can backfire on me, though, when I don't have any positive energy left for my husband.

  2. What a jerk and that poor teller! Some people get so caught up in their frustrations and lash out at people without a second thought of how it could effect them or their emotions.

  3. Seconding Sheila on both the Hubs doing the laundry, and knowing that I can be meaner to my husband than a stranger. The better we know someone, the deeper we can hurt them.

    I'm often appalled at the way people treat service industry people, I always take the time to be patient with those who are getting me food, checking me out, or taking care of ANYTHING to do with banking. Those people are human too, and they certainly don't need someone yelling at them.

    I never used to have that patience because my family were often the type to get huffy over waiting or wrong orders, but my husband is thankfully a very patient person and has instilled better patience in me. We all have days where we're rushed, but I try to remember to slow down and treat people kindly. This post is a great reminder to do that with everyone.

  4. What a douche and a rude man. A egotistical and narcissistic one too. He should be ashamed of himself for doing that to his wife. Grrr!
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