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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, January 15, 2007

I might be a whiner

I think I enjoy complaining.

Not trying to be funny, and not offering false self-deprecation. I'm not proud of it. But I really think a part of me likes to gripe. Maybe it's therapeutic. I don't know.

Here's the deal: Since moving to Florida 14 months ago one of my constant gripes living on the southern tip of this state has been the lack of civility, the bad driving, and the all-purpose jerks. I don't want to saddle everyone with those labels. I've met plenty of nice people. But if I'm to be honest then I have to say I've come across many more mean people than I have nice ones. When my wife and I are out and about we marvel sometimes at the blatant demonstrations of inconsiderate behavior.

So rewind to the weekend. After a day of errands we made one last stop at the grocery. We grabbed a few items, jumped on line and waited. When we reached the front we were immediately hit by a burst of energy from the cashier. She made bubbly seem boring. She was all smiles, all teeth, teasing us about our youth - compared to her apparent age - reminiscing about how she was graduating college and getting married when we were born. As we got our receipt, grabbed our bags and started walking away, she even called out to us that she hoped we enjoyed our dinner and whatever other meals we planned on preparing.

We weren't 20 feet away before we looked at each other shocked and amused and commented almost simultaneously that the cashier had been "too friendly" to the point of weirdness.

And just a few seconds later we both sheepishly looked at one another and pointed out that we're always griping about really bad behavior. And the one time we bump into someone who is extremely nice, we complain about that too.

It made me wonder if folks are as big a jerks as I had believed or if I just enjoy complaining. I think it might be a little of both.

Tsk tsk on us. I'd make an excuse like we'd had a long day, or we were so used to the mean people that we complained as a reflex. But that wouldn't be very nice of me, now would it?

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  • Someone who is extremely friendly in a vast sea of jerks has most likely not yet adjusted to her meds.

    It's ok to think a manically bubbly cashier is weird.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 12:26 PM  

  • Methinks the cashier was trying too hard. We had a server like that last night at a restaurant. His friendliness came off as somewhat "odd" and unconventional. There's true courtesy, and then there's contrived courtesy. Good, friendly service leaves you feeling pleased, and great service leaves you wondering why you're so pleased because of the transparency.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 12:59 PM  

  • Sometimes, I am overly nice. Usually when I want something or I am guilty of something. Don't I sound like a nice person to know?

    By Blogger mist1, at 1:06 PM  

  • Hmmm let's see.....

    option A) James that was a really stupid post, the bored me to tears and wasted 42 minutes of my day that I will never be able to get back.

    nope nope that won't work.

    Option B)James thanks for that post! It was a brilliant(or briliant) reminder of how things sometimes make us grumpier than we need to be. This post has changed my life and I WILL do better!

    nope that won't work either.

    Dear James:

    I have no comment. The end


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 1:13 PM  

  • Sometimes as you become aware of your increasing mortality... you are just happy to be alive and kicking.

    I'd say she'd probably had seen her share of big jerks that day and you weren't being one and she let the joy flow.

    Or... like hammer said... maybe it was just a chemical reaction.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 1:14 PM  

  • James I think you are becoming a southerner - "the grocery". LOL I love it. Next you'll be saying "How's ya mama nem?"

    By Anonymous Angie, at 2:24 PM  

  • Hammer, I like the way you think. She was nice, but that really was a little manic.

    Sarc, that's also a good point. Maybe she was weird. But she was so nice - in a manner to which we weren't accustomed - that it left us asking why.

    Mist1, you sound dangerous. Kidding. Note to self - don't turn back on Mist1 ;>)

    Briliant, it took you 42 minutes to read this post?

    Pamela, it'd be cool if you were right. But I suspect Hammer may have been on to something too. I mean c'mon. She called out as we walked away, telling us to have fun preparing our food, or something like that!

    Angie, I've always been a southerner. Remember, I just moved her from Wisconsin, but I wasn't born there. My roots are in VA. So I've been guilty of Southernese before. Ask my wife. Occasionally I'll slip up and say "I'm fittin' to...," rather than "I'm fixin' to..." or better yet, "I'm about to..."

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 3:15 PM  

  • If you weren't such whiny ponk beeyotch to begin with, there would be no reason to blog away about the high AQ (assh*le quotient=ratio of assh*les to relaxed civilized people) in S. Fla. We (and I must include myself) are all a bunch of whiny ponk beeyotches because we choose to blog our beefs instead of settle them instantaneously on the street. Now, our backhands and trigger fingers would be swollen, blackened and sore if we attempted to settle each and every moment of disrepect with street vengeance. Plus incarceration would defintely become a future probability.

    But would it be worth it to no longer tolerate rudeness and incivility? What would be the tipping point? What does it take to turn the after dis "bitch" into the post-dis "bitch-slap"? I mean after all, isn't civility ultimately acheived at the end of a noose?

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:02 PM  

  • Damn, BD! Only you could lead this to the end of a noose. But I understand your point: civility "spread" over entire societies tends to be forced on the masses. I'd say I liked that idea, but just as soon as the masses get tired of being forced to be civil, someone else will start forcing us all to engage in beastiality, or murder, or goat worship, or something else we find distasteful.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:45 PM  

  • ::::Briliant, it took you 42 minutes to read this post?:::

    Well I AM a product of the North Florida public school system you know. Thought you knew that. The good news is obviously I have gotten better since then. I keep forgetting that there is another BD here, who was here first. It works for chicken so maybe I will have to be, the 'other white meat' or the 'other BD.'


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 6:28 PM  

  • Those extreamly friendly people kinda make me uncomfortable because I don't always want to talk to someone I don't know. Does that make me socially inept or a snob? I know they are being nice but all I can do is give a little smile...

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 6:42 PM  

  • I was amazed by how much nicer people are out West.

    By Blogger Matt, at 6:46 PM  

  • It's true good customer service, in your case a friendly cashier, is hard to find nowadays. That's why sometime i'd rather go to the Mom and Pop store where I know the people and we can do business over a friendly chat rather than save .2c on the dollar at Walmart.

    By Anonymous damonz, at 7:10 PM  

  • She was probably so happy to be alive if she was really that old!!
    but yeah, when you're used to people being rude and then you meet someone nice, it seems that that person is weird.

    But you probably still like to complain. I do.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 7:35 PM  

  • Holy guacamole batman! Yes, I am guilty of the same thing. For some reason I just love to gripe. My husband has been terrific about gently pointing it out and for the last several years I have been pulling out of that cycle.

    Why is it that so many of us get a kick out of griping?

    By Blogger QofD, at 10:53 PM  

  • I often get the "too nice" tag, so I'm glad you stopped to rethink it. I have countless friends who say, "Yeah, when I first met you, I thought you were totally fake. No one could be that nice."

    I'm not really, though--it's not me--it's usually the bourbon talking.

    James Burnett--you look amazing. Have you been working out?

    By Blogger 123Valerie, at 12:14 AM  

  • Ha, BD2, you're forgiven for the NoFla school education!

    Erica, like Claudia said when you get used to jerks an intensely nice person can really weird you out. I don't think you're being a snob...unless you actually are a snob. But I don't get that impression.

    Matt, where out west? I want to visit that place.

    Claudia, you're right. Deep down inside there's something about it I like. It is cathartic.

    Queen, that is the $64K question. I wish I had an answer...other than the whole therapeutic, cathartic thing.

    123Valerie, I have been working...wait a minute! You're flattering me. That's too nice, too weird. I'm hanging up, I mean signing off.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:22 AM  

  • You know, it's funny. The g/f and I experienced something like this too the other month, when we ran into somone who seemed completely naive to our unfortunate social customs; she was nice, open, friendly, but just had no clue that you don't just go up to people and talk to them and have friendly conversations.

    We looked at each other, and I commented on the sad state of things that we had to interpret someone friendly like that as being unusual.

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 10:49 AM  

  • I honestly truly believe (and practice) that what you project from inside eventually starts to influence the world around you. I've seen it work in daily life. Being on the defensive all the time can really blind someone to the good things. It's when everyone gets on the defensive that the defensiveness is never disarmed by a smile or a nice remark. It's a vicious cycle, but not hard to break.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 1:03 PM  

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