I admit it, I’m a Grouch


I admit it, I’m a Grouch

When I reread this blog piece, and with the urging of Astrid, I began to think about the people I was damning and realized that I, for the most part, was looking in a mirror. All the “Self Centered” items below I have done myself, and more than once.

Its easy to condemn. But most often we do so without a look within. Granted the cruise ship was a laboratory for self-centeredness and “Unclear on the concept,” but it was also an opportunity to practice empathy and patience. I’m not sure I used up my supply of either but I am going to strive to follow my own advice and be more aware of my surroundings while offering a hand rather than a fist to my fellow travelers on cruise ship earth.

After spending two weeks with 900 people on a cruise ship, I became to realize just how self-centered so many people are. “Self Centered”  a corollary to “unclear on the concept.” You have met these people in airports, at the supermarket, in restaurants, at parties. They move through life assuming they are the only people on the planet.

I thought at first those I saw on the cruise acted the way they did because of their age, but I have decided that age is only one small part of the issue. People from teenagers to those past the century mark can fall into this category. Place myself in that group.

A few examples:

  1. When you are walking down the hall, street, trail, don’t just stop suddenly in the middle. Walk over to the side. The chances are there are 30 people behind you and when you stop in the middle, you are blocking them all.
  2. As you get off the bus, train, plane, or leave the auditorium, walk away from the door before you stop and look around. When you stop directly at the door, you are blocking the people behind you.
  3. If you need to show a pass, card, ticket, or id to enter or leave a facility, bus, train, plane, etc. have it ready when you get to the person checking for it. Don’t seem surprised and then begin the minutes long search through your wallet, purse, pockets, etc. Come on, you have done this 100 times, you know what to do.
  4. If you are waiting at a buffet for a special order, step out of the way so the people behind you can place their order. Standing there after you order simply slows down the process for everyone.
  5. Let’s face it, some of us move a little more slowly than others. If you are one of those, walk to the side so others can pass. Folks have the greatest respect for you, give them a reason to respect you even more.
  6. “Chatting up” the waiter or waitress in a bar or restaurant may seem like fun, and they may seem like they enjoy it, but you are taking them away from others who are waiting. They will be courteous and listen, but they also know they have others to serve.
  7. Please be on time. I know that sometimes I get lost or take a bit more time than others climbing up stairs. Try to leave a bit earlier so you can get there and not hold everyone up. By the way, I have found the most discourteous are not senior citizens, but jerks who simply think they own the railroad.
  8. Give people their privacy. If a couple is in a conversation, don’t interrupt to chat. If they want to chat, they will catch your eye. Sometimes, people just want to sit quietly and sip a drink. If they want to talk, they will let you know.
  9. When you go up to the cashier to pay for something, be ready to pay. Don’t seem surprised when they ask for money, or a card. (See 3 above)
  10. When you get on a plane, please, PLEASE step out of the aisle while you are organizing yourself. There are 150 people who you are holding up while you sort out your laptop, headphones, jacket, water, carry on and the like. I know its easier not to check bags but bringing three bags and passing two off as purses just clogs up the machinery. Is it possible to organize yourself a bit before you get on the plane?

Yep, I have a world class personal experience acting out all of the above.  I will work on that beam in my eye before I complain about the mote in yours.

Just sayin


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. Plato said: ““Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Kindness, mindfulness and empathy are challenging to live by. We are all selfish and self-centered. When I am unconditionally happy and grateful, it doesn’t bother me that someone takes a month to unload her carry on bag while blocking the aisle. Nothing irritates me much when I am happy from inside. And if an accusatory thought shows up, I immediately wonder if they are suffering? Or I reflect on my own behaviors immediately. So perhaps I am mindful to pay quickly at the cash register. Maybe I am not into chatting up the waiter when there are other people eager to be waited upon him. Yet, I am sure many would call me “self-centered” if I said something careless to them. If I didn’t respond to their text or email as soon as possible. If I didn’t show my appreciation for their time. How mindful am I 24/7? To each its own. We all are human. I am determined to show my faith with my life as in where can I improve to be compassionate, patient and non-judgmental and most of all kind? In my Buddhist practice I have learned that if I point a finger at another, 3 other fingers point at me. So it is truly an invitation to fix the root of all of it in me. As what and not whom, peed on in my cornflakes here? I know nothing but I am learning that when I see something that bothers me and of which I am critical, I have an opportunity to grow in my kindness, sincerity, and appreciation. Perhaps JVH, as you talk about being on time is truly crucial to show respect for others, so it is crucial for ourselves to reflect upon our own behaviors and our lack of awareness. I do lots of things because I am not aware. I am sorry to all I have hurt in my selfishness or ignorance. I have to reflect. Most people won’t tell me I might be obnoxious to them at the moment. Thus self-reflection is the key here. And no matter what, I am only in control of myself. I can only change me. I have no desire nor time to change others. Live and let live. And in the words of Mother Theresa in The Final Analysis:
    “People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
    …Forgive them anyway!
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
    …Be kind anyway!
    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
    …Succeed anyway!
    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
    …Be honest and frank anyway!
    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
    …Build anyway!
    If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
    …Be happy anyway!
    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
    …Do good anyway!
    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
    …Give the world the best you’ve got anyway!
    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
    It was never between you and them anyway.”
    This is the prayer I am choosing to go to sleep with and wake up with. And since I fail often, I pick myself up and strive to do it all over again immediately. And to see Christ in every being I meet or see. Thank you JVH.
    Sincerely, Astrid Ambroziak

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