Inattentive drivers parked their cars at the pumps and went into the service plaza. Some had already pumped gas, some had not. There was a long line of cars waiting to get to the twelve pumps and only two people in sight, neither of who was a driver.
An inattentive woman pushes her shopping cart out through the single door of the store and sees a friend inside. She leaves her cart blocking the door and goes to talk to her friend, leaving a line of shoppers trapped inside unable to exit.
Friends go to the movie as part of a fun night out. Whether inattentive, simply oblivious or uncaring, they enjoy themselves, talking and laughing throughout. The people around them can’t hear the movie over their voices.
There is no question that these people’s behavior was rude. However, I choose to think much inattentive behavior is not intentional. It is easy to be doing one thing and suddenly realize you need to do something else as well. It seems to be increasingly common in our overscheduled and stressed culture that we focus intently on our own business and ignore the potential effect it might have on others.
The movie goers should have known better. They may have been thoughtless, but they have no excuse for their rude behavior – it was a public theater with others present who also paid to enjoy the movie.
Regardless of the intent, or lack thereof, all these people did engage in rude behavior, and rude behavior does affect others. Rarely is that effect a positive experience for the innocent bystanders effected. Delaying other travelers and shoppers, ruining others’ theater outings and similar behaviors create a sour feeling, increases stress and sows distrust and hostility. There is enough of that in our current culture – we don’t need more if it.
It also reflects badly on the perpetrator. You may not ever expect to see them again, but you never know whom they know and word does travel.
What to do so you aren’t inattentive
When out and about, pay attention to what is happening around you. Notice when you are inattentive to those around you and tune in to what is happening. Notice how your behavior affects others and think about your words and actions to minimize the negative effect; strive for a positive effect. Be courteous. If you make an honest effort to be considerate, people will notice and be more forgiving of slights.
Empathize with the others. Remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Remind yourself that you always want to leave people feeling good about both them selves and you. You will also feel better about yourself.