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Friday, July 07, 2006

Time and Manners are Relative

One year to the day after we signed the first check to the architect to have our studio addition built, they started pouring the cement slab. We refer to that as Florida time. They say they will start putting up block Wednesday. We've come to recognize that as a very relative term. There are lots of Wednesdays ahead of us. A life time of them. And that is still no guarantee that it will actually happen on a Wednesday. It could be any day that ends with "day." Because they don't lay block at night. Cathy was reluctant to take pictures of them pouring cement because she felt she would be intruding. And that logic is the subject of today's discussion.

Many of us are afraid to intrude or be offensive or even ask a question or make a statement to someone who is already in your space and you are paying them. Or even somebody else who is rude or offensive in some way. You know you've been there. Unless you are already programed to be the rude one and people have to decide what to do about you.

This subject has come up before in some of the blogs I've read. I'm not quite sure what triggers this kind of non response. Many of us were brought up to be polite. Some of us are pathological about it. Like apologizing to a mugger for bleeding on them. Those of us who have worked in any kind of public service, anything from hospitality to teaching are actually programed to be polite no matter what. It's part of the job description. So when we have workers in our homes, we tend to be very empathetic. Some people take this to the point the absurd. "Oh don't worry about your tar footprints, that's an old carpet anyway." That sort of thing.

Cathy is very empathetic and kind by nature. She has to be positive she is right before she confronts anybody. It's really a hoot then when she gets irate. I love to hear her giving somebody hell on the phone when she feels she is justified over some business dealing. This is a woman who, before we got together, was afraid to call out for pizza. She credits me for her change although, I'm not sure how that happened unless I pissed her off so mightily, she found her voice. At other times she complains in detail to me about some transgression she perceives by some family member or another. I'm glad she doesn't usually lay that on the offender as it's usually some congenital tendency that will not be changed no matter what.

But what about people who are out and out obnoxious and rude? There are books written on how to deal with them. There are advice columns whose existence is justified by people like that. One excellent of book is called The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense, by Suzette Haden Elgin. I find this very powerful. Good skills to know. Or Google Verbal Self Defense and you'll have many things to choose from, including A Complete Idiot's Guide. That whole series, Complete Idiots, is like a Cliff's Notes for adults, isn't it? But do people read much anymore? Has TV taken over to the point that we've lost touch with reality? I don't watch TV but is it true that "reality shows" are about as close to reality as a high school play? If TV is where we are getting our sense of manners, we could be in deep doo doo.

These are the things I will ponder this weekend. Hope yours goes well.

posted by Bud @ 11:35 AM

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