An Interesting Encounter: A Personal Confession
It is a good thing that modesty and propriety are important aspirations for me — otherwise I might very well be an abrasive person. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking of course, there is this man that works in my building and every time I run into him in the elevators of the parking garage, I have the urge to give him a good “talking to.” You see after three years, I have come to recognize his car and I cringe every time he pulls up behind me to enter the garage. He is one of those “ride-your-tailgate-around-every-corner” types, and that impatient and inconsiderate behavior just irks me.
This morning’s interesting encounter: I am a red light away from my building, and I see him coming, cutting people off, rushing in right behind me. “Great,” I think to myself, “Just the person I wanted to start my morning off with.” So as usual, he is not but a few feet away from me the whole three flights up. And as usual, we meet at exactly the same time at the elevator. This morning I came so close to saying, “Sir, do you realize how rude it is to ride people up the parking garage that way? It is not a race.” But I don’t. What is stopping me?
Another confession: I have this “thing” about personal space. I get beyond irritated when people impose themselves in my sphere of space. Most commonly this happens in the grocery store when people choose to stand like a foot away. “Common’ people, I can smell your breath! You are way too close.” I don’t know what in these people’s life experiences have led them to believe that it is okay for strangers to stand close enough, unnecessarily, for groping range, but they are wrong. And every time it is on the tip of my tongue to say, “Excuse me, but you think you could give me some space here? I don’t know you.” But I don’t. What is stopping me?
“Honesty is clearly the downfall of civilization. Civility, propriety, and manners are its redeemers, understood?” (Dr. Camille Saroyan to Wendell Bray in Bones, episode The Pinocchio in the Planter.)
Just last night I completed all six seasons of Bones, which has effortlessly become my absolute favorite TV series ever. I love this quote (written above) from Dr. Saroyan. Although I don’t believe it to be entirely true, it does hold some valuable merit. There are times, more often than not, when manners should trump giving your honest, unwarranted opinion. Unless asked specifically, I think it would be wise for our culture to pursue civility and learn to keep their “truthful confessions” to themselves.
The reason I enjoy Bones so much is because I can relate with many of the characters. Temperance Brennan (Bones) is brilliant, but abrasive to say the least. She is kind, but shares her opinions whether they are welcome or not. Brennan lacks a “filter” and possesses no obligation to do things simply because others think she should. Although harsh at times, I admire her raw personality. Then there’s Angela Montenegro who is sensitive and creative; Jack Hodgins who is corky and sarcastic; Camille Saroyan who is refined and proper; and Seely Booth who is warm and personable.
I guess I can summarize today’s post by encouraging you to be true to who you are, but to seek the good of others above yourself. You never know what other people are going through. Be a measure of civility that others seek to aspire. Respect the good in yourself, but also the good in others, despite how different it may look.