When you are a teenager, you think that life is against you and that it’s your divine right to be rude to everyone. Everyone annoys you and you think that it is perfectly acceptable to tut and fuss and drive like a maniac and toot your horn at people who you see as inconsiderate drivers. You are a stroppy teenager, and if you are a girl, you are by far the rudest to your mother. It just goes with the territory. You think she has been put in your vision to drive you insane, and for that reason you must gun her down with cutting comments and pointless retorts. And you MUST ALWAYS have the last word. You stamp your feet and cry, and people secretly think that you are a horrible child, and hope for your mother that you come out of that phase as soon as possible. You make rude comments here there and everywhere, and you don’t worry about the consequences of how you make another person feel, whether it be a family member, a person in the street or someone that you don’t even know.
Or I did.
And then I grew up.
And now you know what? My biggest bugbear is people who are rude. I try to smile at people on the tube or say “have a good day” to the people on the till at the supermarket, and I can honestly say that it makes me feel better. I might not fall into that uber bitch category; skinny minnies covered in fake tan and giving withering glares to anyone who comes within ten feet of them, but I don’t feel horrible for glaring out some guy on the tube who accidentally stomped on my toe when the train stopped suddenly, because I just smiled and said “no worries”.
I think being mean gives you heart attacks. I have no solid clinical evidence to back this up, but being horrible to people for no reason has to have some sort of weird chemical reaction that makes your guts burn out and your organs ache. Or maybe it has the opposite effect. Maybe it hardens your heart, toughens your arteries and protects your organs, so that eventually you are old and alone with everyone you love having left you, and all you have to do all day is sit by yourself and think about how mean you were.
You can’t ever be happy if you are going around making other people unhappy, and for that reason I think it’s significant to be that one person who smiled on someone’s terrible day, the one girl who the checkout staff remember because you actually asked how they were, or the lady who you helped get their buggy off the bus because they looked like they were struggling. It might slow you down a bit, make your journey a little longer, but you know what, it will make you a better person.
And that’s my happy clappy thought today. Normal service will resume soon!