I went for a pedicure yesterday. A woman walked in, gave her name, and said she had an appointment for a mani/pedi (manicure and pedicure). Her esthetician showed her where to hang up her coat, and asked her to pick her preferred shade of nail polish. Which she did.
She was then shown where to sit. They had a long row of special pedicure chairs along one wall. She refused. Hands on hips, she said she’d booked two appointments, one for a friend; and she wouldn’t start until her friend arrived. The gal who was doing the pedicure very politely explained she had another client coming in, and she wouldn’t have time.
At this point I should tell you the friend was late.
The woman still refused to get started. And to make matters worse she was looking at the poor girl like she was an alien. Or a speck of lint on her skirt. It wasn’t pretty.
To make a long story short this back-and-forth continued for about five more minutes. Eventually the woman
had no choice, but she huffed and puffed, curled her lip, flounced and sulked. The friend finally arrived, twenty minutes late. Sashayed in, like she had all the time in the world. No apologies. She never called, emailed or texted her friend to tell her what was going on.
Neither one of them gave a rat’s ass they messed up the afternoon schedule. For the two manicurists involved. And for all the clients whose appointments followed theirs. It clearly never occurred to them. In their minds, they were entitled.
Talk about rude. Ignorant, really. Not to mention inconsiderate.
My jaw just dropped.
But when I mentioned it to a friend later in the evening, she hit the nail on the head. “They’re just like so many people you come across these days”, she said. “They’re completely self-absorbed.”
And she’s right.
There seems to be an epidemic of it.
People who walk around, completely oblivious to anyone else’s schedule. Anyone else’s feelings. Anyone else’s needs. Or expectations. And judging from the number of people who suddenly stop dead right in front of you, or cut you off, or barrel right into you on the sidewalk, they’re also completely oblivious of the fact you’re even there. You know, a physical presence.
It’s astonishing to me. One of my favourites is when a couple of people, or a group, get off an elevator, but don’t move away. They stand right in front of it, blocking it, actually, while they chit-chat. You’re standing there, waiting to get on the elevator, but can’t. Because they’re in the way. And even if you say “excuse me”, they don’t hear you, because they are so engrossed in their own conversation.
So the elevator leaves without you.
Same thing with escalators. Don’t you just love it when folks ahead of you, get off but don’t move away. And there you are, stuck! It’s scary, actually, because you have nowhere to go. But there’s no staying on an escalator. What are you supposed to do?
This is going to sound crazy, but I wonder if all the time we spend, on our own, in front of our computer screens has anything to do with this new behaviour. Our verbal skills are suffering, that’s for sure. We can’t seem to write anything longer than a 140 character tweet. Our social skills aren’t what they used to be, either.
Because we’re not interacting with other humans. Not in person. We don’t see their reactions to the things we say. We don’t know if we’ve hurt their feelings. Or annoyed them. Too many of our communications are either emails or text messages. We spend hours and hours every day in our own, little world, with a gizmo in our hands.
The gizmo has become our human connection. And we’re so focussed on it, we don’t even notice the people around us.
We’ve forgotten how to share our space.