It seems that in today’s world, common courtesy is a distant memory. It’s like the world has decided that “zero fucks given” is how every aspect of life should go. And while it might apply to some areas, treating people with a little respect isn’t one of them. So I’m going to make a list of the prerequisites for common courtesy.
- You Like Them – Um. No. People dislike each other for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they smell weird, or have an annoying voice, they’re too clingy, or just boring. Hell…they could have flirted with your man/woman. Anything can be the reason you don’t like someone or they don’t like you. That doesn’t mean either of you are bad people. It doesn’t mean you automatically have the right to treat them with disrespect. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have the right to be downright rude to them. I’m not saying you have to invite them over for your next big party, or the movies, or even try to hold a conversation with them, but you can at least not be a big fucking jerk. If you absolutely have to see them at work or school or social gatherings, just don’t talk to them. Don’t ignore them completely because that’s seriously rude. But you don’t have to engage them. Just enjoy the company of the others. If you can’t, find a way out of the situation.
- You Are Having a Good Day – Really? This isn’t one either. We all have bad days. Taking it out on someone else isn’t going to make it any better. In fact, being polite and getting it in return can give you a small boost. Maybe you think people will just get that you’re having a bad day, but that’s fucking stupid. You don’t want to be treated rudely just because someone stepped in dog shit that morning. So don’t do it to them.
- You Care What People Think of You – NOPE. Okay, first of all…yes you do. I wish people would stop pretending they don’t give two shits about their reputation. It’s one thing to not care about opinions on how you should live your life. It’s another to not care about how you are perceived. Basically, we all think we’re good people, and we want others to think the same. And most of us want to be liked. (Unfortunately, not everyone will like us.) Being a jerk to someone doesn’t just make you look bad, it makes you look stupid. As humans we are driven to be part of a pack. That pack can’t function if everyone walks around treating each other like a bunch of pet rocks that peed on the floor. That’s pretty much why things are so fucked up in the world. Let’s not add to it, okay?
- They Have the Same Beliefs – Don’t make me laugh. There is probably no one in this world who believes exactly everything you do. We all have our own views of the world, philosophy, science, religion, and sexual preference. In fact, I’m sure a whole lot of people are reading this right now, shaking their heads. For shame! Who the hell cares what someone else believes? (Actually, apparently a lot of people, which is dumb.) Unless they are straight up jerks about it, their beliefs really have nothing to do with you. Let them believe that magical fairies created the world out of unicorn farts. If that makes them happy, then let it be. You don’t have to discuss leprechauns or the measure of gravitational fields. Talk about something you have in common. If there’s nothing, then just smile and move along.
- They Have the Same Skin Color and/or Genitalia – /headdesk. This is one of the most unfortunate problems I’ve had to encounter. People hating people, treating them with disrespect, thinking it’s okay to touch them without permission, or taunt them in the streets. And this applies to everyone. Women can be dicks too. I’ve seen it enough to know it’s not just a one-way street. Respect should never have anything to do with what sort of package someone is carrying (unless it’s ticking and they’re wearing a bulletproof vest or something). It should have nothing to do with the color of their skin. And it certainly should have nothing to do with how you were raised. Guess what? You don’t have to be anything like your parents or whoever else raised you. You can be kind to everyone. How cool is that shit?
- They Make More or Less Money Than You – Oh honey, no. You aren’t special because you got some magical dream career bringing in the big bucks. You’re special because you’re human, but you are no better than the guy behind the counter at McDonald’s. That guy is working at a job he hates, imagining how many jerk-off customers are going to come into that door and talk to him like he’s some stray that got picked up off the streets of BFE. But just like you he isn’t special just because he’s serving you shitty food for crap wages. He’s no better for having had a tough time. You deserve as much courtesy as he does. So expect it and give it in return regardless of how rich or poor anyone is.
- Education – When did this become a reason to treat people like human beings? Folks, not everyone has had the opportunity to go to college or university. We didn’t all have bright, shiny childhoods with everything waiting for us at the end of high school. And even some people had to give up on that one. Maybe they fucked up, or something traumatic changed their lives, or maybe they had one hell of a bad time getting through school and dealing with life. Whatever the reason, it’s none of your concern and treating them like morons isn’t going to make the world any brighter.
- They Are a Healthy Weight – Look…in the words of one of my favorite comedians, “LAY OFF MAN, I’M STARVIN’!” Let people eat what they want to eat, or not eat what they don’t want to eat, or skip exercising. Their bodies, their business. You have no right to regulate their diet or act like you’re a fucking fitness trainer. If it’s a health concern, you still don’t get to tell them how they should be doing things. Close friends, family members, and doctors should be the only people voicing concern. No one died and made you god of body shapes, so please keep your trap shut. (And for the sake of all mankind stop asking women if they are pregnant.)
- They Are Human Beings – And we have a winner!! This is all you need. I’m not saying you have to kiss ass and pretend to be buddies with every person you meet. I’m not even saying you have to smile at them. Just don’t be a fucking jerk. Say please and thank you. Open the door for a stranger with their hands full. Help the old lady pick up the can she dropped in the grocery store. Let the guy with one item go ahead of you in the checkout line. Treat every single person like you want to be treated. That’s the only prerequisite for common courtesy.