The Limits of Civility

Being employed in the field of residential real estate, a great deal of my time is spent in negotiations. While I spout my opinions freely, some might say recklessly, in the context of this space on the intertubes, for the most part I am a fairly non-confrontational sort in face to face situations. Mindful that others see things differently than I and that a calm presentation of my point of view followed by gentle attempts at persuasion, rather than ultimatum and a spittle flecked shout down, will usually produce better results for all in the end. This civil give and take seems to work best in most circumstances in which you are trying to steer someone to your position while at the same time they are trying to steer you to theirs. The glaring exception to this rule is in attempting to engage in political conversation with the true believing leftists among us.

My morning began innocently enough with a call from the garage that had serviced my truck yesterday to arrange a shuttle driver to deliver me back to the service department to pick it up and settle my tab. About thirty seconds into the ride, before even clearing my driveway, the driver asked eagerly what I thought of the recently concluded mid-term elections. Not wanting to sound too triumphal due to the fact that in living where I live there is a seven in ten chance that any random person on the street is politically to the left of Jeneane Garofolo, I merely stated that I thought they had gone ok, as in my opinion the democrats had gotten a bit too big for their britches lately. The silence that ensued was total, if brief. The remainder of the ride was filled with an Olbermanesque screed that hit on every predictable progressive talking point from how everything was all Bush’s fault, to what a Nazi that Sarah Palin is,  to what douche’s those “Teabaggers” are.  As we arrived at our destination and I clawed for the door handle, she concluded with how she wished we could all just be more civil toward each other and learn to get along. Funny…I was thinking the same thing a few minutes later when I informed her boss that she had referred to a paying customer as a scrotum sucking douchebag.

In a more civil society I suppose I would feel bad about ratting her out, and hope that the loss of her job or at the very least the verbal lashing she would receive from her boss would teach her a valuable lesson in customer relations. But the thing is I don’t feel bad, because those like her are not receptive to such lessons. If in fact she loses her employment over this or another altercation, she will undoubtedly blame “The Man” or her “heartless” corporate employer or the inherent oppression in the system, or something. Never for a moment pausing for a bit of self reflection. My patience for being nice to these people has just about run its course.

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16 responses to “The Limits of Civility

  1. My nice glands are all dried up, too. You can’t be civil to people who are only using you as a sounding board/verbal punching bag. They vomit up their clichés all over your day, and wonder why people aren’t nice. And while we have far fewer obamatons here in Lancaster County, we have a pacifist movement. Lancaster is a studded Bible belt of all kinds of Christian denominations, most all of them evangelical and conservative, but there are still the big old boys who are the liberal fantasists who lock arms and wear stuff. You know. For peace. And the children. Until it comes to Israel, then the nice hoodies come off and they are downright p’isonous. Yep. Liberals are all ‘nice’ that way.

  2. You broke Rule #1, and she broke Rules #1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10.

    All in all, I’d say she was in the wrong. You can’t go starting fights if you don’t want to finish them, and you shouldn’t be finishing fights with customers.

    I know how Seattle is, and how it’s ridiculous to expect anyone there to follow my rules. They’re still good rules. Anyone who wants to be above-it-all, and not do any judging, or to be judged, needs to stick to more cool-headed and stoic deliberations. Like whether you can go to hell for doing it doggie-style.

  3. Those are good rules for anyone Morgan and my experience is they are generally followed here in Seattle. And most places for that matter. Substitute ‘Real American’ for ‘Nice Person’ and voila! One size fits all.

    My life experience is bad manners aren’t limited to the left side of the spectrum.

  4. You can go to hell for doing it doggie-style? Pitching or catching?

    Yeah…so I broke rule #1. Probably should have engaged. Might have been fun running her in circles but I just wasn’t in the mood.

  5. Well thank you Arthur, and I agree with you.

    Liberals becoming entangled in bad manners, is like the young-female-driver who’s never been in a single accident…and God only knows how many she’s caused.

    The thing I think a lot of people miss, is when your opponent approaches the disagreement with “Nevermind whether I’m right or wrong, my thinking the thing I think makes me a good person, therefore you thinking the thing you think makes you a bad person”…it is logically impossible to preserve civility. Can’t be done. In order to defend yourself, you need to challenge the way the other person defines decency, and that means you need to posit that the other person has been fooling himself about what is decent. Which means you need to unleash an assault on his notions of decency, which means you have to attack him.

    And it will be your fault. All of it.

    Even though the liberal created the situation.

    By the way, I still insist liberal women are (generally, Ms. Milano notwithstanding) ugly.

  6. And props to Mark for the graphic. I’ve not yet gotten around to stealing it, but it’s as good as done.

  7. You’ve never met my wife Morgan.

  8. Actually, Arthurstone has never met his wife either. So he and Morgan are equal.

  9. Gerard ably demonstrates the art of the drive-by bitchslap.

  10. Thank you. I’ll be here all week.

  11. There’s a bigger, nonpolitical point here about the service professions:

    Always praise good service.
    Always complain about bad service.
    Both the praise and complaints will have a more lasting and salutary effect if you go over the head of the service provider, as Mark did. Here we are becoming a nation of service jobs, and most of the practitioners don’t know how to do them well, or even why it matters–

  12. Heh. Heh.

  13. Watchu talkin’ ’bout Arthurstone?

  14. Just chuckling abou the alleged ‘bitchslap’ Mark. I’m a little disappointed Gerard didn’t go to his penis size material.

    Guess he wants to keep it ‘fresh’.

  15. He didn’t need to do much, Arthur. I did say “generally.”

    Let’s see…allowing for the allegedly pulchritudinous Ms. Stone, we have her, Alyssa Milano whenever she allows her hair to grow out…I’m afraid Cher’s time has come & gone…ditto Barbra and Hanoi Jane…

    Dang. Only one and a half women worth looking-at on that side, giving liberals every available benefit of doubt? And two thirds of them are living with you, you lucky dog. Something tells me we’d have more civility if the aesthetics were better balanced.

  16. Do you base ‘aesthetics’ on who you spot in People magazine Morgan?

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