I’ve been working at one of my “out-of-office” desks this morning, with a lovely view of the river Thames. It’s cold outside, but nice and snug in my cafe of choice.
As I enjoyed my lunch – a warming saucepan of soup (I kid you not!) and fresh French bread – two women came into the cafe through the fire door just in front of me. And left the door wide open.
“Excuse me,” I piped up. “Do you think you could close the door, please?” I gave them my friendliest smile – and it worked. One of them actually went back to close the door.
“Result!” I thought. All was well in the world.
A few moments later, the two women left again, through the same door. I could hear myself thinking “you’d better close the door this time!”
Did they, do you think? Did they heck!
I inadvertently made eye contact with another woman, sitting at a table to the side of me. Our shared look said it all. She was quicker than me – she got up and closed the door, making sure it wouldn’t open again!
Now, this might make me sound miserable – after all, if I’m all about Taking Life As It Comes, then surely something like this shouldn’t bother me.
But there is a serious point to be made here.
People talk a lot, nowadays, about respect having to be earned – in particular when talking about how teenagers and young adults interact with the older generations.
However, common courtesy is about showing respect to other people, whatever their age, without them necessarily having to earn it. Simply making the assumption that people deserve respect and treating them accordingly.
If you don’t respect others – including total strangers – then you don’t respect yourself.
I’ll say that again!
If you don’t respect others, you don’t respect yourself.
By showing disrespect to others, you are, in effect, trying to show them that you’re better than they are – and that, therefore, they don’t deserve your respect.
But when you feel good about yourself, you don’t need to prove that you’re better than anyone else. Because you know nobody is better or worse than anyone else. We all have our place in the world, and we are all doing the best we can do with the resources we have.
So although I was annoyed with those two women for a while, I know that, had I been in their place, I would have treated them with respect – whether or not they believe they truly deserve it.