Maybe it's the fact that it's almost June and us Chicagoans have yet to experience one solid week of Summer weather -- but have people gotten exponentially ruder over the past few weeks? I've had two "run-ins" on the street with strangers lately that were significant enough to A) ruin my day and B) have me ponder the question, "Where the hell is your Mid-Western hospitality?"
Exhibit A: A few weeks ago I was on my way to a very important meeting. I was tutoring (enriching the life of a 3rd grader) from 5:30 - 6:00 and needed to be at the appointment around 6:15. Yes, I know this was wishful thinking that I would ever make it on time, but I figured the 5-8 block distance was cab-able in 15ish minutes. I didn't, however, factor in the rush-hour's lack of cabs on Wacker. I ended up sprinting down Wacker with my arm raised in hopes I could scrounge up a cab whilst heading in the direction of my appointment. I was doing this for a good 2 blocks when I hear this woman say something along the lines of "Oh so you're going to cut me off?" The bubbly girl from the suburbs inside of me thought she was trying to make friends, so I said something like "haha yeah, where are all the cabs today? geez!" Well, she was not kidding nor being the least bit friendly. She looked like she was going to kill me. And for the record, I did not "cut her off," I was running around Chicago like a freaking lunatic and there were no cabs for miles anyway. Calm down sister.
Exhibit B: (Full disclosure: I was carrying out a technically illegal action, however not punishable by jail time): This morning I had an extra 5 minutes before my bus was going to arrive right outside my apartment. I thought I'd be a nice roommate to my new awesome roommie (by the way - she's amazing!). I decided to empty a rather stinky trash can from the kitchen garbage. Because I had only a few minutes to grab my bag and keys, I decided to just take the trash with me to the bus stop and dump it in the condo building next door's dumpster (they have two massive bins for like maybe 15 units). This chain smoker of a woman (who I thought didn't speak English, until today) started screaming at me for using her (I use that term lightly) trash can. She went on the rant about raccoons eating their trash. I continued to dump my garbage and like a dog with my tail between my legs said something like "sorry, won't happen again but I'm in a rush." I mean, I know I was technically in the wrong, but there is a MUCH nicer way to confront someone. Perhaps - "Hey, no worries this time, but do you mind not using this can because it gets over flowed and the neighbors all complain - thanks a ton!" With that I would have apologized and said "No problem!" Not that difficult to be cordial.
You can really tell a lot about someone's character by how they treat strangers. Maybe it's because I'm small and non-threatening looking that strangers feel the need to be a-holes to me all the time. I don't think I've ever been rude to a person I've never met that I have absolutely no history with. If I were a teacher every student would start with an A, not an F.
I think the majority of the world is just rude. And then every so often you meet a nice 20 year old boy who offers his seat to you on the train or a nice older woman who asks to pet your dog and you realize there is good out there. After getting attacked (yes, that is a bit dramatic) numerous times over the past few weeks, I am going to make a concerted effort to be a nice guy (girl) everyday. I will hold the door open for the person behind me and say hello to the nice woman who cleans my office who is always so smiley. We should all be the nice people because there's plenty of ugly out there already. We're Mid-Westerners for crying out loud!
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