Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Rules Still Apply

It started with the summer of line butting. But lately I've noticed that people don't seem to follow the rules anymore.

We learn early to wait for our turn, compromise, delay gratification, and provide help to those who need it. We learn early that life isn't always fair and sometimes you draw the short straw. But as adults we forget these lessons. Rules and laws are created to remind us of our manners.

So rules are enforced courtesies. Which is sort of an oxymoron. Good manners come from a place of altruism. Rules come from a need to keep order. America is becoming a nation made up of individuals who believe "the rules don't apply to me and my special circumstances." Everyone is special. Everyone is entitled. Maybe it comes from all of the participant trophies we dole out to the kids who warm the bench.

In response to the government shutdown Starbuck's is celebrating the pay it forward philosophy, giving free coffee to anyone who buys a stranger their tall, grande, or venti:
...not as an act of charity or thanks—but an acknowledgement of commonality and humanity.
In times like these, small acts of civility like these make a big difference.
We’re hoping this small motivation will encourage you to be the spark of connection that helps bring us all a little closer at a time when showing our unity is so important.
I get it, and I admire Starbuck's sentiments. But I am a little uncomfortable with kindness that has a built in reward. Kindness is its own reward, right?

Nothing makes me feel better than a small act of civility, especially when it is unplanned, whether I am the receiver or the gifter. You can see people performing those acts everyday if you take the time to look. There is the person with the full cart who waves me ahead of them because all I am buying is a Killer Brownie and a can of cat food. There is the kid who smiles because I admire her pink cowboy boots and awesome skipping. There is the older gentleman sitting alone at the bus stop who has a fascinating story if you just take the time to listen. There is Sharon, a woman who works at the grocery store we frequent; she remembers my name, compliments me on my style even though we both know I don't have any, and always gives T a super-sized sample of chicken because it is his favorite.

Which brings us back to the rules. When I am rushed I forget to be polite and when I am rushed the rules don't seem to apply to me anymore. Whether we butt in line, text and drive, or refuse to compromise (yes, Republican lawmakers, I am referring to you), it is always good to remind ourselves that we are just participants in life warming the bench.

The kid skipping along the sidewalk and the guy sitting at the bus stop? They are special and at the very least are entitled the rest of us following the rules. As someone over at Starbuck's noted, acknowledgement of commonality and humanity is where it's at.

Curmudgeon Andy Rooney's soapbox aside, there must have been a point to this when I started writing. Oh yes, slow down, follow the rules, be kind, and make some soup. At Called to the Table this week I recall a weekend of disappointments, a rotten pumpkin, and the comfort that comes from Butternut Apple Bisque.  

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