Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Happened To Hello?

This should be required reading.
 I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with my best friend last week. It’s a rare occurrence since we live 1004 miles away from each other (it’s those extra four miles that really hurt). She’s married and has a sweet little girl now, so she and I took the little munchkin with us out for breakfast. The kid really likes toast. It makes her easy to please. We had a lovely breakfast. I wish we could eat breakfast together every day. It was a diner so we paid on the way out. She paid first and then headed out to the car to start getting Little Miss Toast in the car – naturally that takes more time than buckling in an adult – leaving me alone to fend for myself. Was I attacked by bacon? No.
            “Is that your daughter?”
            “No, she’s my friend’s.”
            “Oh. Do you have any kids?”
            “Are you married?”
            “Why not?”
SERIOUSLY BUDDY?! Just let me pay for my breakfast. At that moment, an animated vignette was playing out in my brain where all of the diner’s dinnerware was flying off the shelves at this guy’s head. How inappropriate was that interrogation? He didn’t even know my name! It was almost as offensive as the bad posture, pushed out gut, beckoning of the “AW When are you due??” question. NEVER ask a woman when she’s due. NEVER! THREE times(!)I’ve been asked if I was pregnant. And they were all in the course of a month, and once even by another woman. No folks – not pregnant – JUST drinking too much. I think the response I gave to the woman was “Uh, actually, I’m just fat.” Ludicrous.
            Similarly, women who are actually pregnant seem to have the issue that their own body becomes public property. People they don’t know and will never know all of a sudden believe it is their God given right to fondle these women’s tummies. Baby belly molestation, I say. What are they to do? I’m sure what they want to do is smack the bejesus out of these strangers – scream “Get your hands off me! I’m not a petting zoo!”
            It baffles me that in a society where people have lost the ability to converse with strangers there still exists this over the line inappropriate social interaction. How do we get back to the basics? “Hi, I’m Bob. What’s your name? Nice to meet you.” Little kids know how to do this. What is wrong with the grownups? I met a really polite homeless person in Chicago. His name was Tony. He hadn’t forgotten any of these formalities. I stopped to give him some money and look him in the eyes (as I suggest you do every homeless person you encounter – please acknowledge their existence. They’re not invisible). We had a short chat, but it began with “Hi, I’m Tony. I’ve been homeless for two years. They call me Tony the homeless person. What’s your name?” Was that difficult? No. Then he called me an angel, which was sweet and unnecessary. The conversation ended with “Bye. Have a good day!”
            Miss Manners would have approved. The conversation had a beginning, middle, and an end. People should talk to one another. I don’t understand why everyone’s so afraid to interact with strangers. We have more in common than we let on. I just wish that there would be a little bit of propriety in the interaction. Does it need to be taught by the parents? Can people find it somewhere else? I remember one client at Ferragamo who told me that he had beautiful feet and that it ran in his family. The customer is always right and sometimes you just have to smile and nod when the occasional oddball goes off on something like that. He really got out of line though. His son was with him, whose name I can’t remember. We’ll call him Jake. “Jake, show her your feet! Show her! Take your shoes off!” Oh man, I really don’t need to look at your teenage kid’s feet. Please just buy the shoes and leave. He was taking his socks off. “Do you want to touch them? Aren’t they lovely?” Yes sir, they are nice feet. No, I do not need to touch them. What is wrong with you? What is wrong with people? Could we take a few steps back and at least pretend to be civilized?

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