Greg Savage just shared, on The Huffington Post, his article “How did it get to be ‘OK’ for people to be late for everything?” (originally written in his blog on June 7, 2013). In it he decries the late-arriver.
“In recent years it seems that a meeting set to start at 9 am, for some people means in the general vicinity of any time which starts with the numeral ‘9’. Like 9.30 for example. People drift in at 9.10 or 9.20, or even later…. And an arrangement to meet someone for a business meeting at a coffee shop at 3 pm, more often than not means at 3.10 you get a text saying ‘I am five minutes away’ which inevitably means 10 minutes, and so you wait for 15 or 20 minutes, kicking your heels in frustration.”
He (and I agree) insists that this behavior is “rude” and “inconsiderate.”
Yes, I’m late on some occasions but only in rare circumstances and always with a “heads up” followed by a sincere apology.
But more than just tardiness, there is an overall epidemic of discourteousness in our society today, particularly here in NYC. Sadly, this is not surprising to anyone who had lived here, had a friend visit here, seen a representation of it on television or in the movies, etc.
I want to believe that this is due to a lack of awareness that people have regarding their surroundings. People plow through the city with their noses in their phones, headphones in their ears, destination in their sights.
I worry though that it is more than just a lack of awareness. My fear is that people are genuinely becoming more uncaring than ever before.
Take for example the following 10 individuals who are wreaking havoc on our agreed upon system of appropriate behavior.
- Door Blockers: The person who exists the building and then stands just on the other side of the door, lighting his cigarette or texting his friend.
- Width Walkers: The duo or group of friends who are traveling the sidewalk side-by-side, preventing others from passing them without stepping into the street.
- Space Invaders: The person who enters a the elevator or train while wearing her backpack which, inevitably, strikes you multiple times as she shifts about.
- Hijackers: The person who holds up your trip because he reopens your elevator or holds the door on your train.
- Roller Derbiests: The person who drags her suitcase behind her OR the parent/nanny who pushes the stroller through a crowded sidewalk, crushing your toes as she carelessly rolls over your feet.
- The Texting Dead: This person has so much information to share with the world that he has to text someone right now, while ambling, agonizingly slowly, in front of you.
- The Raptured: The person who, without warning, stops right in front of you and stares upward.
- Ignoring-ramuses: The parent/nanny who has decided that she would rather listen to Katy Perry while you have to listen to her squalling child. Also in this category is the parent/nanny who allows her charge to run rampant throughout the train, disturbing the hordes of commuters.
- Psychilists: The person who ignores traffic laws and rides their bicycle on the sidewalk or against traffic in the street.
- Turnstile Anthropologist: This person gets to the turnstile and then decides to stop and spend several years researching their belongings in pursuit of his Metrocard/ID badge and blocks you from proceeding to your destination.
Can some (or most) of these problematic individuals be handled with a kindly “Excuse me” or “I beg your pardon”? Possibly. I offer these in nearly all of these circumstances. However, many of these individuals are already at Discourteous Level 11 (on a scale of 1 to 5) and are prone to ignore these pleasantries. Which is the crux of my frustration. If people were courteous and aware of their surroundings in the first place, there would be no need for “Excuse me” (since you wouldn’t have to find a path around them), and then there would be no need for disappointment when they ignore your plea.
People of the world. Let’s try this again. Let’s go back to kindergarten and revisit the Golden Rule.