I have to say you do a pretty good job of being kind. For example, the students at our local university will hold a door open for someone who is 50 feet away. I have worked on a lot of campuses, and I have never seen that before.
Further, there have been a couple of occasions where my debit card didn’t work as I was buying food. On those occasions students behind me have said “I’ve got it” and paid for my meal. I was shocked the first time. The second time I had been around long enough to know that this kind of thing is pretty normal around here. Our students are the best I have ever been around.
However, (yes, there is a caveat), there is an occasional outlier who can ruin it for everyone. Just yesterday I was at the drink dispenser in the student center dining area filling a cup with water. The dispenser is next to a wall. As I was filling my cup, a male student reached between me and the wall, a tight space, to get a cup. While doing that he also whistled loudly in my ear.
When I went to the cashier, an acquaintance of two years, I commented,”Some people aren’t very patient.” She confirmed that I was referring to the aforementioned student and replied,”Yes, he has been rude to me today. He comes in here every night.” She made it clear that the staff considered him a regular jerk.
The boy had gone into a compute room. So I took the time to go in there and walk by him to get a good look. Part of me wanted him to notice me while I was thinking “remember me”, but he stared at the screen with ear buds on and munched on his food. He was totally self absorbed.
A bit later I was watching television and had my computer charger plugged into a wall. Inevitably, when I do that someone trips over the thing, no matter which plug I use. I think the Apple people have a good racket going because I have had to pay 80 bucks a pop to replace the charger for my Mac. It isn’t very durable.
Anyhow, this particular student walked right in front of the TV talking on his phone and brushed my charger. I was perturbed, especially since he could have taken a more convenient path. I said to him,”Watch my charger please.Those things are pretty fragile.” He replied,”I didn’t touch it.” I responded,”Yes, you did.”
I was pee-owed that he had lied to me, but I have to give him credit. The young man could have made a scene, but just kind of brushed me off, kept walking and said “All right.” Now his tone was slightly good natured and slightly mocking and the same time. I guess the idea was “we will have to agree to disagree.”
I was reflecting later over my episodes and my continual agitation at sometimes rude students. I will not relate into any more incidents . (Did I tell you about the skateboarders? Oh, never mind.) But I definitely have had similar confrontations.
I realized as I was thinking that my responses to these kids have not been prudent. I am pretty sure that they definitely have not been effective. Complaining, whining and reacting when someone has violated my boundaries just doesn’t seem to do anything but get me and others mad.
What came to my mind was a verse from the Bible that says “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” In retrospect, most of our folks have modeled that for me.
So fellow citizens, keep up the good work. We may not have 100 percent participating in the kindness thing, but you’ve changed me and I am pretty sure that people like the ones I have mentioned who have not gotten the message may indeed actually get it one day.
A Fellow Traveler