manners

Be Polite

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It’s amazing what a person can get done by merely being polite, especially when dealing with cops and mid-level government bureaucrats.

We live in an age of barbarism, mistaken for something else because of technological advantage. Give Conan an IPad and he still wants to crush your skull with the pommel of his sword and steal all of your stuff, while uttering guttural grunts. Manners and politeness have vanished from a large portion of the population. Do parents even teach manners anymore, or is it considered undemocratic to teach your kids such remnants of the white patriarchy? Please, thank you, and excuse me work wonders. I remember recently while I was at a NY DMV trying to get my driver’s license renewed, and dealing with the typical cynical DMV worker, that she became very helpful and pleasant when she noticed that I remained calm, did not make demands, said please and thank you, and otherwise remained calm. This was in stark contrast to the people in front of me, who were of course argumentative, didn’t say please. In response, the DMV worker was short and sarcastic with these people. It’s easy to get a negative view of these low-level public officials but they deal with snotty, self-important people all day, and many of these people have absolutely no reason to feel self-important; they are of the typical breed of young American, assured that they are very important from their youngest days just because they  breathe air. Our family dog, a pug, breathes air, too. But I’ve reminded my wife that when the zombie apocalypse arrives, the pug will still be the first thing on the dinner table when the canned goods run out.

Same thing goes for cops. I’ve seen many people talk themselves into a traffic ticket. It’s the same people who really believe there’s no higher authority in the universe than them. Cops have authority. When people used to say to me that “if it weren’t for the badge and the gun, you wouldn’t be acting like this”, or some such thing, I’d agree. In such a circumstance I was acting as a person granted authority by the State of Maine to enforce traffic law. I did not have authority to control the diet of the person, their selection of television entertainment or their hair style but I most definitely had the authority to summons them to court for doing 50 in a 25 zone. Being polite to a cop will shock him. He’ll probably be caught off guard. All day long he deals with people ranging from outright savages, to snarky hipsters sipping latte’s and making donut jokes. He probably reads Drudge Report and sees the repeated headlines about the encroaching police state and its ominous militarization, meanwhile he’s sitting in his Ford cruiser, wearing a gun and other equipment he had to purchase himself and making 15 bucks an hour. There’s not even any prestige to the job anymore, and he’ll be reminded of that multiple times per day from people that in my opinion haven’t even earned the right to vote.

Cops should be polite, too. Often, police officers have built such a thick crust from years of dealing with degenerates and snarks, that they are the ones that cause the problem. It took me a few years to recognize how much a calm demeanor and politeness have an immediate tranquilizing effect on most people. Not all but most. There is a small percentage that just begs to get tasered.