They're rude without knowing it. They're stupid without caring. And I see so many of them every day that it's hard not to just hate everyone on contact and wait for them to prove they're not a worthless pile of garbage.
And then someone seems genuinely happy that you smiled at them or wished them well or complimented their boots. I had a woman today say, "Thank you for being pleasant."
And I smiled and said, "It's what they pay me for."
And she shook her head and said, "No. Really. Trust me. I can tell you're a decent person by the way you treat me, a stranger, who comes in and interrupts whatever it is you were doing."
I fuddled through an explanation that it's my job to wait on customers. They come first. And that she wasn't bothering me. And I thanked her for saying something. She smiled and left the store.
This was after I was told by a customer to stop rolling my eyes at her (which I wasn't--I've been paid for ten years to not let customers know what I actually think of them). She was being super obnoxious, and I think she felt a little guilty about it, or foolish, which generally breeds overreaction and hostility. People are proud, and they get mean when they feel stupid.
I had another woman throw a hand in my face and walk out the door as I explained to her how to use her membership card. Again. She felt foolish, so I got to bear the brunt of her overreaction.
I could list all the ways I've been treated unfairly. I could recount the wounds. But this one woman who took the time to thank me for being civil--CIVIL--not even especially nice--made all of those awful people a lot less awful.
Thank you, humanity, for sometimes being good. It makes me realize that we good humans are few and far between, and the world needs us more than ever.
Thus far I've graduated college with an English degree (read: I work in a bank), come out to friends and family (read: I'm gay), accompanied my boyfriend of seven years to all kinds of sweet events (read: I'm taken), and managed not to make too many enemies in the whole process. Life is...