My wife comes from an area of the country where please and thank you are essential to daily communication. Otherwise it’s considered rude. I come from an area of the country where you only use that language with seething sarcasm or else to communicate your irritation. “Can I PLEASE have the ketchup!” Actually I have no problem using them in the appropriate places. However, I generally take my tone from the person I’m interacting with. When you pull up to the Burger King drive-thru and the clerk simply says $11.95 and sticks her fat fingered pudgy little hand out, I don’t feel inclined to say, “can I have some ketchup, please.”
If she has started with hello, good afternoon, or something like that, or even if she had said, $11.95 please. I might have been more cordial. But none of that happened. And I don’t blame her at all. She has a shitty job and sees the same crappy cross section of society outside her window every day. I understand that she’s busy and mostly interested in getting the transaction done and moving on. She doesn’t have time for extra words, neither do I.
But apparently as parents we’re suppose to be role models and try to instill some basic values in the children, and while all this is going on, both my wife and kids tried to remind me to say please and thank you. So, While the clerk was away getting our food, I turned to my wife and said, “I give what I get, and I’m not getting any please and thank yous from her.”
“Well, be the bigger person.”
The clerk returned and I took one look at how she filled up the window, obscuring my view of anything behind her, and turned to my wife and said, “That’s not possible.”
My wife waited until we started to drive away and said, “If I had said be the bigger-headed person, *THAT* wouldn’t be possible.”
So for anyone keeping score:
Intended Behavior Modeled:
- Simple business transaction
- Interact with service people
Actual Behavior Modeled:
- Make fun of people behind their back
- Fight with and insult spouse
In case it’s not obvious, I think this is funny. Really funny. And despite no one agreeing with me now, someday the kids and the wife will look back on it and laugh.