Thursday, August 2, 2007

Why Are We so Rude and Angry?

By Pamela S. Meek

I was in line at a hardware store today. I wasn’t really paying much attention until I heard the woman in front of me utter some really profane personal expletives aimed at the young cashier. The girls face turned scarlet with indignation and embarrassment.

It seems the clerk’s crime was that she asked the woman for her drivers license when she was writing out a check for her merchandise. Oh, horrors of horrors! The woman was angry and yelling at the top of her lungs that she shopped there all the time and didn’t need to show her ******* license every ******* time she wrote a check.

When the cashier pointed out the sign prominently posted that said a valid drivers license must be presented with EVERY check, the woman reached out as if to slap the girl. A man that had just finished in another line and was passing near her “accidentally” bumped into her and knocked her hand away from the girl. The anger was then unleashed on him. At this point the manager arrived and asked the woman to finish her purchase and leave. The woman rambled a dialogue of profanity at him as well and threatened to never shop there again. I was pleasantly surprised by the manager’s reply; he told her if she kept that promise we would all be happier. She left in a huff.

What makes people so self centered and uncaring of others feelings that they feel they have a right to behave like this towards others? Why do we allow the small things in life to make us so angry that we do not bother to think of the other person’s feelings?

My daughter works at a magazine help center where they take incoming calls for magazine orders and complaints. They are trained to figure out what the problem is and fix it for the customer. She comes home emotionally exhausted from dealing with rude people who call her filthy names and act as if everything is her personal fault.

People call in angry because their magazine is late getting there or because there is a mix up on billing and they refuse to give even a bit of info to help her find the problem, then scream and cuss at her for not fixing it right now. She is called all kinds of filthy names and insults.

My daughter tells of talking to people who always ask, “Do you know who I am young woman?” As if their importance in their line of work makes them more important than anyone else and she should be able to magically be able to fix their problem just because they are so great.

She generally tells them that all she has is a name and number on a screen and that all of their customers are of equal importance. She has a keen wit and can usually get them to laugh and to see the futility of blaming her personally. After all, the help center is five hundred miles away from where the magazine is printed and another three hundred miles more from where they are located. She is there to help them fix the problem, not to be their personal whipping boy.

Yes she sometimes has good days where someone calls in and is especially nice, like the time Kevin Costner called about a problem with his magazine and he made her day by being kind and very nice. He even complimented her on the way she handled the problem and found the solution so fast. We need more people like that in this world.

Today anger and frustration seem to be the way of the world. It just goes with the faster paced lifestyle where no one seems to have time to think of anyone except themselves. Everyone is slandering, cursing and belittling anyone who they think is not in a position to fight back. And when someone does fight back, then the rage turns into violence.

I believe it all started when we allowed people to insult telemarketers. The internet is full of nasty emails about how rude people can be to telemarketers. And we not only accept it and agree with it, but we laugh at it and pass it to others.

Why is it OK to be nasty to telemarketers? They are people hired to do a job. Did you know that most telemarketers are hired by companies like mortgage companies and lenders that you already do business with? That is how they get your phone number to begin with. Did you know that even if you are on a do not call list with the phone company, a telemarketer hired by your company can call you anyway? It’s because you do business with that company and in most cases, you may have signed a paper giving them permission to have the marketers call you. I bet you didn’t even read the paper did you?

Save your anger for the company who hired them, don’t direct it at the person doing their job and calling you. Simply saying please take me off your list and hanging up is enough. If you just hang up, you go back into the bin to be called again. If you do talk to them, their job requires that they keep pressing you until you have said no three times. So, just ask to be removed from the list and hang up. You will achieve more than if you scream at them and show your rudeness. Then call the person who gave them your number and tell them of your displeasure.

I think we all need to practice a little more kindness and patience with others. Don’t allow small things to make you angry. Anger and calling names does nothing to correct a bad situation. Just as the young cashier could not change the policies of the store she worked for, slinging personal insults at innocent people just because you have been inconvenienced in some small way, does not make the situation right. And getting angry at the wrong person serves no purpose.

Violence is a learned response. It is not something we are born feeling. It's normal to feel angry or frustrated when things don’t go right. But anger and frustration do not justify insulting comments and verbal abuse towards others or violent action. Anger is a strong emotion that can be difficult to keep in check, but the right response is always to stay cool.

A little kindness goes a long way and a smile is sure to get more cooperation and solve the problem a lot faster.

Anger is part of life, but you can free yourself from the cycle of violence by learning to talk about your feelings calmly and patiently. We can achieve much better results and usually even bring about a solution to our troubles when we stay calm and speak rationally.

A Concert In The Park

By Janet Denton

Have you ever been to a concert in the park? If not then you have no clue what a real treat it is. My family and I recently attended a concert and fireworks show in Austin, Texas, put on by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. We drove the hour and a half drive in bumper to bumper traffic. We arrived at 5:00; the concert didn’t start until 8:30 P.M. We took along several old quilts and a hamper full of fried chicken, potato salad and apple and cherry rhubarb pie for a late picnic supper.

The kids played with friends they met there. Some were old friends, some they go to Sunday school with, and others were new friends. My husband and I had a chance to talk with old friends and new. It’s amazing how friendly people become at a concert like this.

As the sun began to set, music filled Wooldridge Park. We all cuddled up on the quilts together. The music was wonderful, even my youngest listened and enjoyed it. He’s pretty active and at two years old, sitting is not his forte. The music seemed to entrance him. He insisted on joining his ten year old brother and seven year old twin sisters as they marched around the quilt in time to the music.

These wonderful outdoor park concerts are a perfect opportunity for America’s families to enjoy some of the countries greatest pleasures – togetherness, fine music, fresh air, and beautiful park surroundings.

Our twin fourteen year old daughters both play instruments in the junior high band and loved the whole show. They kept challenging one another to pick out which instruments they could hear playing certain pieces while they listened with their eyes closed.

Our oldest is a typical seventeen year old guy. Much to macho and cool to join in it, but his dad forced him to join the family (he threatened to take the car keys on Saturday night). He sat around looking all bored and refusing to participate, stating that his presence should be enough, he shouldn’t be forced to have fun too. About half way through the concert he remarked,” This isn’t too bad for old people stuff.” After that he really did seem to enjoy himself.

The music and atmosphere seemed to reflect a simpler time when performances of familiar classics in town centers were commonplace. It is so wonderful that these free and very informal outdoor events can provide an opportunity for people to become acquainted or reacquainted with the classical music experience. What a wonderful way to give our children an education in music and actually experience it first hand.

It took us back to a simpler place and time. A place where there was no rush to get somewhere. A place where family still reigned supreme and parents didn’t have to sensor what the kids were hearing for fear of obscenities or violence. It was a place of peace and harmony. A place of learning and fun activities for the whole family.

The music this night, being Independence Day, was all patriotic. As the music was coming to an end, the ever-popular 1812 Overture began to play, punctuated by 75-millimeter Howitzer cannons, courtesy of Texas National Guard Salute Battery, interlaced with spectacular fireworks over Town Lake. The ohs and ahs could be heard everywhere. The children loved the whole experience. They all want to go back again, including our Nathan. I guess he has decided that concerts are not as lame as he thought. He mentioned to his dad that maybe next time he will invite a date so he isn’t so bored.

I bet there is a concert somewhere near you this summer. Why not go online and check out Concerts InThe Park and add your town. I found that there will be concerts all through the summer and early fall months in that same park. I wish I had known about them a lot sooner.

What a wonderful way to spend a night together as a family.

Janet Denton lives on a ranch near Austin, Texas with her husband of twenty three years, Lucas. She is a stay at home mom and homeschools their six children. Janet holds a Masters Degree in Science and Liberal Arts. She has been writing since her oldest son was born seventeen years ago. This is her second published article. Her first article was the winner of the Hot Psychology Patriotic Contest published in the July issue.