Apparently nice is in. This came from an indisputable source, which means I saw it referenced somewhere or other on the world wide web thingy, so it must be true. I’m all for nice, and I’ve even been known for being nice (when people can’t think of anything else to say about one, it’s always a safe bet to say, “Well, she’s nice . . .“ which may not convey the dread they feel when I approach with my nice blandness, but at least they’re not saying anything BAD about me, right?), but this may call for a change in my disposition.
What’d being nice ever get me? Other than the obvious, of course. I know lots of nice people and people, random strangers even! are nice to me, and most nights I can sleep well knowing I didn’t make anyone cry that day.
That’s not entirely true. I don’t sleep lately, but it’s not my conscience keeping me awake. My conscience is sound asleep at night, unlike me. It’d be nice if it at least tried to keep me company.
These benefits should not be taken lightly.
Nice is nice, in its own way, but what people really flock to are the dramatic, the cruel, the rude. Maybe we figure they know something we don’t that would explain their behavior. Maybe it makes for better stories.
Example: I go to a restaurant. My order comes, but it’s not exactly what I asked for. I, with all politeness, ask for it to be fixed. The server, not wanting to give offense, takes it back and returns with the correct order. Everyone is happy.
This is a boring story.
Now, revised: I go to a restaurant. My order comes, but it’s not exactly what I asked for. I’m not only put out, I’m livid with a white hot rage. Who are these imbeciles, and why do they think they can treat me like this? Is the world populated by idiots? Why do they seek me out? I tell the server that I’m most unhappy and she has no business being a server. “Away with it!” I demand, sweeping my arm across the table, sending my plate flying like a saucer across the room where it strikes an elderly gentleman on the side of the head.
Not my fault, so I glare at the elderly gentleman when he turns to look to see where the errant plate came from. He’s only bleeding a little, and it’s not as if he’s going to die or anything.
The server glares back at me, then scuttles off. I assume she’s gone off to get the proper order and fashion a suitable apology.
Other diners are staring at me. I like this. I have their attention. I sit up a little straighter. I am not to be trifled with.
The server returns with my order. What’s this? Did they actually put the dressing on the salad instead of off to the side? I sigh heavily. I am indeed surrounded by idiots.
“I can’t eat this,” I tell her, knowing she can see how close she is to losing her job. Yes, I can cause her to lose her job. I have the power.
She sighs back at me, then stomps off.
A minute later the manager comes to my table. “Is something wrong?”
“Do you only employ idiots here?” I think it’s a reasonable question.
He sighs. I’m pretty sure it’s not aimed at me. He must be sighing because he’s managing a staff of idiots and is again regretting his decision to go into restaurant management.
Eventually my order comes to me as I originally requested, and though it’s satisfactory, I’m determined to steer everyone I know away from this particular restaurant with its deplorable service and haphazard discipline, for when I suggested to the manager that he fire the server, he gave no sign of doing so. I had hoped he’d call her out and do it right there.
I am often disappointed in life by the failures of others to live up to my standards.
Doesn’t that make for a better story?
We like controversy. We like to hear of others being put in their place. It’s entertainment! Niceness, on the other hand, well, not so much. Where’s the drama?
Perhaps I shall change my demeanor. Perhaps I’ll stop being so forgiving, and expect people to pay for being human. I shall consider myself entitled! Of course, people will still be expected to be nice to me. I deserve it, after all.
But for all my dreams, I fear I won’t change a bit. I’ll still be nice.
Unless you annoy me. Then watch out.