By Kelly Baughman

Let’s face it. No matter where you go, you will always encounter the occasional rude person. I mean, life is tough for all of us. Even here on the beach. Whether it’s the overwhelmed parents on vacation with their demon spawned children, the stubborn snowbird here on winter sabbatical frustrated because the Publix in Florida doesn’t triple coupons on Wednesdays, or the local, who despite all their efforts to get to work on time, is perpetually experiencing road rage due to examples one and two, we can all be pushed to a breaking point at times.
How we handle it is another thing.
I’m not sure if people are just crankier than usual or if I have just become more observant in my older age, but the more people I meet, the more I channel my inner Stephanie Tanner and think, “How Rude.”
For example, a few days ago, I was standing in line at Winn Dixie when the elderly woman in front of me paid and proceeded to walk away without her bag. The cashier called out to her, “Ma’am! I don’t want you to walk out without it this time.”
The woman turned quickly snatching the bag from the cashier’s hands opening it just enough for me to see that it was beer before she snapped, “Well, you’ve already let me walk out of this store without it once today. I guess you’ve decided to do your job.” She continued muttering to herself as she walked away, and I looked at the cashier and said in my best angry cat voice, “Reeooowww!”
“I know, right? She tried to get me fired this morning after she walked off without it,” she explained. I simply said, “Well, you can’t please them all.” Moments later I exited the store after thanking the cashier in hopes of restoring her faith in humanity, only to find the same old woman wandering around the parking lot looking for her car. She whispered under her breath, “No, that’s not my car….maybe that’s it over there.”
Yeah, lady….it was the cashier’s fault you left your beer. And maybe we should lay off the beer if we can’t find our car at one in the afternoon.
The event got me thinking back to a time when I worked as a pirate plundering on the American Star pirate ship in Orange Beach. On one particular trip, I encountered a rowdy bunch of young boys determined to kill one another with plastic swords. As pieces started to fly in the air and blood was drawn, I asked them to calm down a bit. All but one headed my request. Instead, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t think so lady….my mom said I can do what I want.”
Baffled that a kid no older than six or seven would speak to an adult like this, I looked to his mother for some sort of shame. I didn’t find it. She said of his behavior, “He gets like this when we are on vacay. It’s best to just let him wear himself out.” I suppose I may have been the rude one in this situation when I responded by saying, “Best for who?”
Nah….I’m standing behind that.
I could tell she didn’t like being called out (gee, I wonder where Junior gets it from), but I simply added, “He needs to stop hitting the other children and put his life jacket back on, ma’am. Its Coastguard rules. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to take you both back to shore.” She scoffed at me and then bent down to coddle her little baby gargoyle for ten minutes until he did what we asked.
And don’t get me started about people in cars. Road rage is becoming a huge problem all over the country, and I have been both victim and the angry party at some point during my driving career. We all have. When someone cuts us off, nothing can make us feel better than giving them that one finger salute. Yet being on the receiving end of one can be scary….especially if you did something by accident or to your knowledge, nothing at all.
The real problem today with people in all these instances is anonymity. When you think you’ll never see or hear from the other person ever again, you’re more likely to act like a complete and utter jerk. But how about the old value that says integrity is about what you do when you are alone, when no one is there to police you, when you are under cover, or anonymous?
Are you angry enough that as soon as you feel no one will be on to you, you spew your verbal venom, speak volumes with a hand gesture, or insult someone online? The next time you feel yourself slipping into a nasty way, ask yourself this….If this person was someone you were going to have contact with on a regular basis would you behave the same way? If this person was a member of your family, would you want someone to treat them the way you treat others? And is the issue you are snapping over going to matter in the grand scheme of things five or even ten minutes from now?
Most of us would say no. And for those of us that would still react the same, well what can I say….other than it’s not everyone else….it’s you. Do us all a favor and stay home today. I’m trying to enjoy a day at the beach.