Monday, May 7, 2012

Civility Week 19: May 7, 2012

    Slipping and sliding on an icy parking lot a year and a half ago reminded me of how to be civil. Yes, it’s true, falling on my bum and the embarrassment of walking into a crowded medical building with ice and snow covering my body from head to toe and explaining to everyone what had just happened was a lesson to me in civility.
   In what weird way, you ask?
   Sometimes civility is only about remembering the world does not revolve around you. That is not always easy in this “do it for me” attitude society. I get really tired of hearing the words, “empowerment”, “entitlement” “do it for you!” or the worse one, “it’s all about you.”
   No, it’s not all about you! There are millions of people in this world, and life is certainly not all about you. What has kept our world going for thousands of years is the fact that people realized that it was important to do things for others, to make life better for the next generation.
What does this mean for civility? It means taking back our opinions when we wear it on our sleeve. It means keeping our mouths closed when some smart aleck comment comes to mind or we begin to gossip, diss or defame another person.
   The day of my fall, my daughter and I were rushing to get to a doctor appointment.  We live in a mid size mid west town where we get some snow every winter, but usually not more than a few inches. This time it had come in fast and furious and businesses were closing all over the place. My mid afternoon appointment had been bumped up to a late morning appointment so the medical staff could go home early. So my daughter and I were rushing to get from the parking lot into the building when it happened. Haste doesn’t just make waste, it makes for hazardous hurrying when you slip and fall and slide down an icy parking ramp. And it just doubles the possibility for injuries and more embarrassment when your daughter falls right behind you and plows into your back side.
   Now, my daughter and I aren’t exactly known for our grace and calmness during silly situations. In fact neither of my daughters inherited their father’s knack for grace under pressure. Instead, they inherited mom’s lack of grace, and the ability to see hilarity in any stupid situation such as falling down in the middle of a snowy parking lot.
   Getting up, unhurt except for our prides, we began laughing and brushing the snow off each other. We entered the doctor’s office still laughing at ourselves and began to tell our humorous story to the receptionist.
Only she didn’t think it was funny. Rats. Did I add that that heredity also includes not being able to keep your mouth shut about situations that would be better left unspoken or explained about?
No? Well, first of all the receptionist didn’t think it was funny. She was mortified that we had fallen, could possibly be hurt and would sue the entire medical facility, thus lose her job if she did not report our accident to the security office.  She immediately grabbed the phone, told the voice on the other line she had an accident report to give and handed me the phone.
   Stunned, I took the phone and began answering a barrage of questions concerning our little accident on the parking lot assuring the man on the other end we were not hurt, and did not need to seek medical attention.
Secondly, as we sat and waited for the appointment, we had to keep answering questions about our fall, and were we sure we did not get hurt? This was getting to be too much. When at last we got back in the doctor’s office and he asked about it I knew that was it. Some people just did not see the humor in some situations.
Now, granted when you go and tell a bunch of medical people who see the results of accidents every day, that you have fallen, it isn’t a funny little story to them to hear.
   My lesson in civility? I wish I could view all of my embarrassing moments in this way, by laughing about it. Most times I get mad or upset, wondering what I could blame for putting me in this situation. Usually it’s myself I should blame, nobody else.
   If we could all learn to laugh more and not worry about our pride, we would be much better off. This lesson in falling on our keisters helped me see that. I hope it helps you too!

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