So, I was in the post office the other day, waiting in the front of a long line for my turn to go to the window and purchase some stamps. There were 7 or 8 people in line behind me, and I had waited for 4 people to have their turns as I moved to the front of the line.
Suddenly, a man of medium build, dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, threw open the lobby door and ‘stamped’ in. “Where is your stamp machine? Doesn’t this place have a stamp machine in here?” he yelled across the lobby to the postal workers behind the counter. His demanding tone of voice caused all of us to turn and look at him, and as we did, he repeated his request in a louder and more obnoxious manner.
One of the postal workers looked up and in a normal tone said, “Sir, we haven’t had a stamp machine in here for several years. You will have to get in line and buy stamps here at the window.” Without any hesitation, he barged through the line and positioned himself directly in front of me to claim his position of first or next in line to go up to the window. The rest of us just looked at him in disbelief. He made an extra effort to claim his position by planting his feet wide apart, put his left elbow on the writing counter, moved his right hand to his right hip, and made it clear, by grunting, mumbling, and growling that no one was going to get into his way.
Quickly, I realized that I was in a position to make a choice as to how to react to his actions. He was well-built and muscular, so I decided not to poke him in the back and say, ‘I’m sorry – I didn’t realize that the waters had parted for him.’ Instead, I turned to the lady behind me in line and said, “Clearly, that guy is not having a good day!” Everyone else stayed quiet. No one wanted to intervene or make any kind of scene. I had a vision of making a scene by accusing him of cutting in line, but I also got a vision of a physical altercation that would no doubt end up with law enforcement involved and a big delay in my plans for the rest of the day.
So – I just let it go………..let him go. He then went up to the window and threw his envelope down on the counter, demanded a stamp, and then yelled at the postal worker when she asked him for the fifty cents to pay for the stamp. “My God, fifty cents!” She handed him a stamp, he licked it, slammed it on the envelope, threw it at the postal worker, and stomped out of the building. The rest of us let out a collective sigh of relief!
I have no idea of what everyone else was thinking by then, but I was genuinely flabbergasted – on several levels. How could someone be so rude? How could someone be so ignorant? How could someone be so oblivious to his behavior and lack of manners?
Oblivious, according to the dictionary, means unaware, ignorant, insensible, unmindful, and no notice of what is going on around him. How does someone get to be in that space? Belligerent, another word that came to mind, means hostile, aggressive, contentious, antagonistic, etc. He was displaying these character traits from his entrance to his exit.
My point in telling you this story is two-fold: I think it is important that we be more aware of our own behavior, of how others see us, and how our actions can affect those around us. And, I think it is important to be aware of those around us and how they might respond to our actions. Are we making the situation better, comfortable, relaxing, or are we causing tension, anxiousness, anger, and difficulty? This scenario had several endings possible, probably as many as there were persons in the post office at the time. But what happened, happened and he got away with it this time. I’m happy with my decision to not confront him, but next time, beware! I get to decide if I will be the doormat or the ‘stand-up-for-myself’ independent white-haired old lady who can swing an accurate purse!
Don’t be rude!
Just a thought …