Sunday, February 2, 2014

Civility: Are we Modeling it?

This little guy, at nearly 4 months, watches everything and has begun responding by imitating.  I'm certainly cleaning up my language and thinking of how I will do my best to be a good grandma role model ;-) 

Just back from Costco, which was a darn stupid idea on the day before Super Bowl. Getting my car  parked was a feat in itself, even though I aimed for a space in the absolute farthest lot.

As I entered the store, I paused waiting for the lady next to me to go ahead. We both smiled, saying at the same time, "Go ahead." Ok, I thought..this won't be as bad as I expected.

Halfway down the frozen aisle a kid ran by, bumping into me. I'll admit: I was a bit irritated as I had seen kids running on the previous aisle and it was crowded and a bit dangerous to have 8 year olds ducking and diving. In any case, as he blazed by, realizing that he had just hit me he stopped, looked at me, and said, "Excuse me.. sorry!" A smile crossed over my teacher face as I thought of telling his dad, down the aisle, that I appreciated his politeness. I decided, however, that much as I would welcome such a comment from a stranger, not all adults would take it the right way. I carried on, trying to get out of there as fast as possible.

Moving toward the front of the store, I rounded a curve, and nearly collided with a woman, shaking her head and frowning as I uttered, "Excuse me." We were both completely where we should be: simply navigating a shared space. For some reason, though, she could not be gracious in this negotiation. I smiled and carried on. Kill 'em with kindness, right?

Whatever, I shrugged, as I decided it was definitely time to get out of there. The checkout line: perfectly pleasant, as I chatted with the cashier and bagged my items, remembering the many years I spent working in retail and my vow to always treat others especially kindly.

The parking lot was where it hit me the hardest. Safely in my car, groceries packed, I witnessed an interchange between drivers much like the one I had with my cart in the store. A woman threw up her arms, shouted out her window at another woman who was simply coming around the corner and "in her way" for a few seconds. Wow, I thought, maybe I missed something.

But it was her next move, when she was suddenly behind me in the line of cars exiting the lot that got my attention. Because I didn't hit the gas full speed as the light changed, she swerved out into the next lane, nearly clipping my car as we rounded the turn.

SO many questions ran through my mind: Is she in a hurry to get somewhere because someone is in danger? What would rationalize such behavior: driving a car so aggressively? If she pulled up next to me, and I had a chance, would I say something? 

Of course, I must admit, that I was somewhat pleased that her impulsive move left her at the end of a slower moving line of cars. Ha! That's what she gets, I thought. I'm human, right?

Afterward, I kept thinking about how we expect kids to be polite and civil, yet we see so many examples of adults who are not modeling it. I'm sure I'm guilty too, but now, with a grandson watching, I'm sure I'll be a bit more aware of my words and actions.

Little eyes are watching.



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