Years ago, I was sitting in an ice cream parlor when a delivery guy in a large truck pulled up and started delivering products into the store. An older couple was leaving and, 10 seconds later, stormed back inside.
“You need to move your truck, you’re blocking us in,” the husband shouted at the driver. “Right. Now.”
“I only need a few minutes to finish this delivery and then I can,” said the delivery guy.
“No, you’re blocking me in and I want to leave. So move!” shouted the guy. His wife looked on but said nothing.
The delivery driver and the store manager looked at each other and shrugged.
“I’m going to finish the delivery first,” said the driver.
“No, I want to leave, so move the truck,” stormed the guy.
The driver refused, which made the guy madder. He grabbed his wife’s hand and stomped to his car where they sat. He waited a little longer because the manager gave the driver an ice cream cone.
If the guy had just been nice about it, he would have only waited a few minutes. But because he was a jerk, the driver made him wait for nearly 15 minutes.
This is what happens when you’re rude. People will generally do things you want if you ask nicely. But if you’re a jerk, they will refuse to help you at all, and you deserve that.
I have used this knowledge in my travels. More than once, I’ve been scheduled for a flight that got canceled and found myself standing behind some entitled a-hole howling that he had to get on the next flight.
He would shriek about his loyalty program and scream at the gate attendant as if they could make it stop snowing in Chicago.
The attendant would apologize and say there was nothing they could do. So the person would stomp off in search of a small child to yell at or a puppy to kick.
I would step up, smile, and apologize for the rough day they were having.
“Do you need a minute?” I would ask. They would take a few breaths, smile, and ask what they could do for me. I would tell them my final destination and ask about available options.
More than once, they got me on the next flight. The same flight that had been full five minutes ago, except it now had a couple seats left.
It didn’t always work, but it worked enough times that I knew this was much better than screaming at the person handling my travel plans.
Some people still need help learning this lesson. Like in Perth, Australia, where a woman delivered a hand-written letter — signed “Sarah, Wayne, & Kids” — to her neighbor about his cooking.
Sarah, Wayne, and Kids are all vegans, and she said the smell of the neighbor’s meat cooking in his own kitchen was making them “sick and upset.” She demanded that they close their window whenever they cooked meat.
She also wrote “Please take seriously” on the envelope, which means “please mock me.”
Which the neighbors did. They posted the note to Facebook, where it went viral. Then they hosted a barbecue party in their backyard to celebrate King Charles III’s New Hat Day.
So Sarah, Wayne, & Kids responded with another hand-written letter which also got posted to social media. This time, it went global.
“I raised my concerns of the smell of meat making my family sick and upset and you go and have a BBQ on Saturday night, inviting lots of people and you knew this would affect me and my family.”
I’ll just ignore the run-on sentence there and ask, what did you think was going to happen? You demanded the guy change how he lives his life on his property to suit you. Did you think he was going to do whatever you wanted?
She concluded, “Please no more BBQs and please keep that window closed when cooking otherwise I’m going to report you and go to social media too.”
Who you gonna call, Meat Busters? Alert the Vegan Police? Is there an Australian BBQ Council that states how closely people can grill meat near a vegan?
That’s not how this works, Sarah. You just look entitled and demanding, and this certainly did not backfire on your neighbor. I can tell because we’re reading about this in the United States. That’s not a problem for your neighbor.
It’s one thing to ask someone to keep their noise down at night or not to park in your driveway. We should give each other certain levels of respect, but not this time.
Maybe the neighbor was wrong to share the note on Facebook. But you shouldn’t impose your lifestyle on other people. If you don’t like the smell of cooking meat, close your own window. He’s free to cook his food in his house; he doesn’t have to bend to your rules.
Better yet, learn to live with people who make different life choices. It’s none of your business how anyone else lives as long as it doesn’t harm you. So don’t impose your morality on other people.
Remember, you can catch a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
But ice cream will do in a pinch.