When you don’t feel like being nice

Being nice isn’t just when you feel like it.

Know when it really matters most? When you’re emotional and sleep-deprived and stressed and sad and somebody comes at you with an attitude.

When the very human part of you would rather respond to them in kind. Aka “What the hell is your problem?”

It matters in that exact moment.

When you instead stop to consider that their negative energy in all likelihood has not a darn thing to do with you.

Maybe her boss just yelled at her. Maybe she just got a call from a debt collector for an overdue bill that she cannot afford to pay. Maybe it’s the 2022 equivalent of what Truvy said in Steel Magnolias and the elastic’s shot in her pantyhose.

I considered all these things today when a restaurant cashier was rather curt with me while I placed my lunch order.

You can’t possibly know what makes people come across the way they do. And slamming them with the verbal equivalent of a shove certainly won’t make your day or theirs any better.

As I filled up my amber-tinted plastic cup with ice (all the way to the top because #southerner and #texas), I remembered in shame a particular time when I did not do this.

I was boarding a flight to I can’t even remember where. I was in a huff, having gotten to the gate late and generally in a bad mood because airline travel these days is legit the pits.

As I settled into my seat, I noticed that the seat it front of me was already fully reclined back; it flew all over me.

I managed to squeeze in anyway, grumbling under my breath all the while.

But I must’ve been louder than I thought, because then I saw the occupant of the seat – a young woman in her mid-twenties – rise up and whip her head around, glaring at me.

She had tears in her eyes.

“You know, my grandmother just died and I’m just trying to get home for her funeral. You think you could maybe just give me a little break?”

I was horrified.

I think I quietly uttered out an “I’m so sorry,” averting my eyes.

Suddenly leg room and being able to lower the tray so I could work until takeoff mattered very little.

Without intending to, I had kicked someone when she was already down, all because of my own selfishness and sense of what I was “owed” in a stupid plane seat of all things.

I am thin on patience today. We put Sadie down yesterday. I’ve got some personal relationships that are a source of hurt. I’ve had what feels like next to no sleep from the little puppy waking up all through the night looking for her sister who is not coming back home, and there is much more to do at work than there is time.

Yet, I did not bite off the cranky cashier’s head today, or match her negative energy with some passive aggressive B.S. of my own (women are scary skilled at this, but that’s another blog topic for another day).

I simply paid for my lunch, took my number, said thank you and walked away.

You will no doubt encounter lots of social interactions like this in your own experiences.

In those moments, don’t give into that inner voice saying, “Oh no she didn’t!”

Instead, keep a cool head on your shoulders. Be brief with your words, if that gets you through it, shed that person’s baggage – it’s not yours to carry – and then move on about your day.

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