Alice looked forward to her visit with her friend, Carol. As usual, when Alice arrived she called Carol, was buzzed in, and waited for the elevator. Two women were already in the elevator when it arrived; Alice entered, punched Carol’s floor number and stood facing the door – it was all very normal.
As the door closed, one woman asked Alice whom she was visiting. Alice was startled at the question but answered politely. The woman then announced they were the backup security system for the building, checking that visitors were legitimate. As Alice started to turn to say something, the woman added: “especially those who look suspicious”. Alice was now quite uncomfortable with the entire exchange and grateful the elevator had arrived at Carol’s floor. When the door closed and the elevator continued on its way, Alice heard the two women snickering.
This is a perfect example of behavior that is simply rude.
Alice is Carol’s friend and an invited guest in the building. Making her uncomfortable was totally uncalled for. The women were rude and boorish.
If the two women were joking, they needed to let Alice know that. Alice thought they were serious.
If they were joking among themselves, at Alice’s expense, they were out of line; making fun at someone else’s expense is always rude. This was an apartment building, not a comedy club where there was a chance they might have gotten away with it.
If they were serious, they should have asked her whom she was visiting in a polite, non-confrontational manner. It is as easy to be engaging and friendly as it is to be rude. Telling Alice she looked suspicious was unnecessary and uncalled for.
The incident negatively affected both Alice and Carol, hopefully just for the short term. The two women made Alice feel like a trespasser instead of making her feel welcome, respected or at ease; she was disconcerted and flustered. Carol was horrified that her neighbors would treat her friend that way.
It is always informative to look for unintended consequences. In this case, they are equally negative. When visitors are treated badly, word spreads in the community; the building will gain the reputation as being very unfriendly, making it more difficult to keep the building fully occupied and reflecting badly on all the residents.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.