The Golden Rule Seems Broken.

I’ve been wondering about something I hope you can shed some light on for me.

At what point in the last, say, forty or fifty years, did it become the norm for Americans to stop giving others the benefit of the doubt or even the simple courtesy of not jumping to conclusions in everyday situations? The Golden Rule seems broken to me.

Let me try to explain where I’m coming from.

Two weeks ago, I went to IKEA with the older boy, to get one more thing for his dorm room. One thing. Literally.

And so we went to the self-checkout registers.**

There were three registers open and in use, and so we stood there, patiently waiting for one to open up.

The one that became free first was the furthest one, and so we walked towards it, the older boy a couple steps ahead of me.

Suddenly, a man who had been standing soclose to another customer at one of the registers closer to us that we assumed they were together raised his voice and growled,


And then he stormed over to the open register.

My son and I both quickly said something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sorry!” before backing up to where we were waiting a couple of seconds before. We had no idea that he was not with that other customer. Honest mistake.

So tell me, dear readers, WHY couldn’t he just say to us, in a normal tone of voice, “Oh, excuse me: I was already waiting.”

It’s not WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it. And can’t we all just get along? I mean, seriously!

I am the first to admit that I am a very nice person (some would say too nice) and, on occasion, let people get away with more than they should be able to in order to avoid a confrontation, but isn’t there a happy medium somewhere? Why can’t people remember that you get what you give? Why can’t people give thought to the feelings of others before they speak or act? Are we THAT jaded as a society? Is it stress? Is it the economy***?

More importantly, can it be fixed?


*I’m not talking about those personnel who do a poor job and are rude: that’s another post for another day!
***I do think this has been going on longer than the economic problems of late.


©2010 Suburban Scrawl


  • Tom

    I think we, as a society, are teaching and encouraging ourselves little by little to become more self-centered and impatient.

    And I don't see the trend reversing itself unless enough of us make the effort to bring about the change.

  • Tara R.

    I'm one of those non-confrontational people too, but lately I've been speaking up for myself more. I don't growl at anyone though. There's no telling when you'll run into someone with a knife. 😉

    I agree with WeaselMomma, it's that sense of entitlement people have. That 'me first' mind set.

  • drlori71

    That guy was just pissed because his wife made him buy some IKEA furniture and he's stuck putting the damn thing together.
    I don't know why people act like this. Poor manners? Stupidity? Sense of entitlement? I guess all we can do is follow the golden rule ourselves and hope that others do too. And hope that others aren't carrying a pocket knife like @TheNextMartha.

  • Lisa

    I am also non-confrontational but TRYING to help my kids be a little more assertive. Thus far we've taught them manners that have lead them to being doormats!! Sadly, I only see it getting worse by the year. People are sooo rude it makes me crazy. It's sad that its gotten so bad that we are constantly praised by people who are taken back by how polite are kids are, when that should just be the norm. And when I find a place where the people really are nice I bask in it. (Ie the new local minor league baseball field by us, is a wonderful place for us because the people are seriously so friendly and easy going, I LOVE IT!)

  • Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    Sadly, there will always be rude people. It's how we react that shows our true colors. Obviously, you and your son are unaccustomed to rudeness because it shocked you. That's a GOOD thing.

  • Patty@NYC Girl at Heart

    "Why can't people remember that you get what you give?"

    You are right. Unfortunately you "get" the nasty rude comments so often that when its your turn to "give" something…well you let them have it.

    I'm NOT saying its right…I'm just saying it happens. I actually took the "high" road last week and didn't yell and this insane woman over a parking spot (I tried to reason with her…ha!) but the whole thing let me shaken. I didn't like that feeling…I should have gone at her verbally just as she did to us.


    I still don't know. I'll have to write about it later in the week.

  • Huckdoll

    Hmmm. In a situation like this I'll try to give the person the benefit of the doubt. I know it's not an excuse for rude behavior but perhaps he was having a really bad day and snapped. Maybe that check out line at Ikea was his breaking point.

    Either way, unless he is a completely horrible, nasty monster of a person he will likely feel bad and maybe even regret his reaction. I know I do when I snap.

    Sadly, the entitlement, the "it's all about me" and "I" and self centered mindsets the comments are pointing fingers at above are manifestations of this society, therefore, all of our problem.

    Unless the majority of society is willing to change and react always with kindness then we have no right to react at all, in my opinion.

    I know I'm a total sucker and probably get walked all over all of the time, but I try to believe that people – all of them – are generally good.

  • Heather

    Because people are assholes.

    (just kidding)

    Okay, I dunno what's wrong with society, but I do know that we are a MORE!NOW!GIMME! kinda society now and it makes me sad. I'm with Jen, I TRY to believe that everyone has good intentions and weed out those who truly do not. And perhaps he WAS having a bad day? And if not, karma will come back to him.

    Because I have a mouth, I probably would have shot something back at him, which at some point, in today's world, will probably get me in trouble some day.

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I agree – there IS a problem. I see it all the time. Like why go out of your way to be an a-hole when just being nice is so much easier? quicker? Its like there's this sense of entitlement that people just can't let go of…why do they feel they must make such a POINT that they deserve whatever it is they think is theirs?!? I don't get it…

    (BTW – SO glad you weren't buying meat. I shudder to think what might have happened! 🙂 )

  • LceeL

    I think it started to gain momentum with Reagan and the "Grab everything you can and forget about anybody else" economics he fostered.

  • Momo Fali

    I was thinking today about the guy who called me a moron for parking about two inches of my car on his grass. He could have easily been nice about it. Jerk.

  • DaddysFishBowl

    Good post and good questions. I grew up were everyone looked out for themselves in my community, essentially making it a non-community. It's sad that our society functions this way, but when there are unscrupulous people out there who take advantage of the kind hearted, I can understand the "all about me" mentality. Sucks, but all we can do is keep hope alive and continue to do our part as "good" members of society

  • Oscar

    I would have told you politely. I think its a matter of ignorance. Wait…Actually i wold have let you go first and be ready once you finished. But that me.

    There is so much ignorance around us. People not knowing how to address others. Plus a lot of folk are like WM said all about "me". They feel you are in thier way. This is ignorance. Look at all of the television shows that highlight arrogance and ignorance. We can start there.
    "Snookie" would have told you to Fu@# off" and pushed your things aside. (no I don't watch Jersey Shore but she shows up in local news here in NJ.)

    I have more problems with it in the opposite direction. When i need assistance, I feel like i "bothered" the cashier monitor.

    "Item removed from bag" AHHH make it stop!


  • Otter Thomas

    I bemoan what I call the downfall of society all the time. It is an absolute shock to me if I encounter a nice person. It is so rare it nearly causes me to faint. It is really sad that we live in such a self centered society. I think another problem is instant gratification nature of our society. We have everything at our fingertips all the time. That has people in more of a hurry than ever, and it causes all kinds of hateful exchanges as well. As a Christian I try my best to follow what the Bible teaches and hope it rubs off on someone.

  • deborah

    "you get what you give"–exactly. and occassionally to get what someone else is giving. the world isn't perfect, but i'm holding out for better than that guy. poor thing–had a bad sandwich, sir? (i say that a lot….it confuses the mean people:)) nice chatting with you on