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Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

This little video contains a message I’ve been trying to convey off and on for years, i.e. that sometimes the apparently selfish, absorbed behaviors of people around us may be the outward manifestation of inner turmoil.

I’ve been that woman in the red car, distracted by grief and mourning and like a horse with blinders on, focused solely on the task in front with little obvious regard for others.

Sometimes it isn’t all about you and a sense of entitlement of wanting to live in a world surrounded by polite people. Sometimes being gracious means extending the hand of kindness, or at least kindly thoughts, to those we may initially view as undeserving. There will be those who will argue that people should be polite and considerate regardless of their circumstances and while it is true that we all should strive for that, no one will ever attain perfection in the application so a little forbearance might be what is needed. Someday you may need that same gracious forbearance from others.

{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Chocobo February 15, 2011, 9:35 am

    Ah, this is exactly right! Yet another reminder on how the true purpose of etiquette is to smooth the links between us, to instruct US on how to be gracious, rather than as a script to judge others.

  • k. February 15, 2011, 9:40 am

    This is something that I try to keep in mind, though it gets difficult sometimes.

    Several years ago, I worked at Starbucks. There was one customer that had a reputation for being a real nightmare, very demanding and rude, and we all dreaded seeing her. So, one day, I was working the drive-thru window and she came through the line to get a few bags of coffee. While I was waiting for the coffee to be ground, I asked her how she was doing. She told me that her father was in the hospital and had been sick for quite some time and that he wasn’t expected to recover. From that point on, I looked forward to seeing her. There certainly wasn’t any excuse for her rude behaviour, but knowing “the rest of the story” really helped me understand why she acted the way she did.

    Of course, there are some people who are simply rude due to selfishness and entitlement, but it’s always good to keep in mind that everyone struggles.

  • QueenofAllThings February 15, 2011, 9:50 am

    I was once driving while in tears (I know – I should have pulled over). I pulled out to take a right on red without looking, and a woman with the right of way leaned on her horn and yelled at me. She was in the right, I was not in my right mind, and she snapped me back to reality for a minute – but the yelling was unnecessary.

    I also stopped to let an elderly woman cross the street. The driver behind me couldn’t see her and was really honking. She finally swung out to pass me on the right (assuming I was turning left without my blinker) and nearly hit the woman.

    Patience and a little forbearance for our fellow travelers in this life …

  • Caper February 15, 2011, 9:59 am

    Thank you for sharing this video.

  • Natalie February 15, 2011, 10:00 am

    “Be kind to everyone you meet, for they are all fighting some battle unknown to you.”

  • jan February 15, 2011, 10:06 am


    Uhmm, the next video in line is, ahem, interesting.

  • KM February 15, 2011, 10:11 am

    No, um, those aren’t tears in my eyes. Just… allergies, yeah. Boy am I guilty of that. Always wondering why other people can’t be as “considerate” of me as I am of others. And I’m soooo humble, too. Puts me right in my place. Thanks.

  • Scarlet February 15, 2011, 10:19 am

    That was wonderful! I needed that reminder today…

  • Louise February 15, 2011, 10:28 am

    Thank you very much for sharing that. I’m very much like that guy in the video — I let all life’s little frustrations and aggravations pile up and get to me. This is a reminder to calm down.

  • Ellie February 15, 2011, 11:05 am

    I love the message at the end of the video. Boy, that main character really needed a wake up call to chill out a little bit. Not every thing is a crisis, and if you can learn to sweat the small stuff, like traffic and lines, your day will be so much better.

    However, I will respectfully disagree with Admin’s comment about being the “woman in the red car.” Stealing a parking space is rude, and unfortunately can lead to incidents of road rage from some people. If you are so consumed by grief that you can’t see a motor vehicle right in front of you, you are a hazard on the road, and please stay home.

    And even though it wasn’t mentioned or alluded to in this video, I think the man’s mannerisms hurt him too. If you act unapproachable to people, absorbed by your own personal storm cloud, people won’t ask if they can order one more thing. I’m usually a very friendly person, with a smile on my face, and I don’t get much rudeness from personal interactions with people (customers notwithstanding!)

  • irish February 15, 2011, 11:15 am

    Wow what a great video. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Rosie February 15, 2011, 11:30 am

    Lovely video. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nikkita February 15, 2011, 11:32 am

    KM, we both must be suffering from the same allergies 🙂

  • Ashley February 15, 2011, 11:42 am

    I have a job that has a lot of downtime, so I often do take the time to consider things like this. Customers often tell me things too. I work at a loan office, and some days I end up being a sounding board for all the problems people are having that day. I have never had that happen anywhere else I work, so its a bit odd. It has however made me realize that everyone has issues and problems that may prevent them from being the most polite people ever. I strive to be as polite as possible at all times, because if me being cheery helps the waitress who is frustrated by the customers at the next table over, then it has been a good day.

  • LilyG February 15, 2011, 11:50 am

    I read a story when I was a kid that was very much like this and it changed my outlook on life. It had been written in the ’20s and was about a young girl who was discontent and felt everyone had it easier than her. She was ashamed of her widowed mother who was disfigured and the girl’s only high school grad present from her mom was a “measley” string of pearls.
    So she complained and an angel allowed her to see everyone’s burden and told her she could trade. Then, like the man in the video, all was revealed. She learned some of the “luckiest” people had terrible things weighing them down and some of the nastiest people were suffering. Her mother was disfigured when she saved the girl as a baby in a house fire. The pearls her father gave her mother were the only other things she saved and were infinitely precious.
    The girl realized she was relatively lucky and further appreciated her mother for giving her life twice.

    I have never forgotten that story- it made a big impression on me. When I experience jealousy or anger at someone, if I’m lucky, I remember the lesson and calm down & shut up enough to appreciate my life. The video was great; thank you for sharing.

  • Merrilee February 15, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I AM the guy who needed the glasses, every single day. Thank you for the reminder that I don’t know what’s going on with other people, and that it’s not all about me. I need to relax. And I need to remember that we all have something going on with us, and that we are all residents of this place we call Earth and we need to be tolerant, forgiving, and compassionate to others. I preach a good game, but I let day to day get in the way all too often.

  • Shayna February 15, 2011, 12:30 pm

    “If you act unapproachable to people, absorbed by your own personal storm cloud, people won’t ask if they can order one more thing.”

    You’re very right, however, I do believe the point of this video is that peoples outward behaviour isn’t always a reflection of exactly what’s going on inside. The main character is probably a busy man, needing to get somewhere, aggravated by what he perceives as rudeness from those around him. So he’s not going to be smiling. However, the lesson here is humility, which he learned in the end.

    Miss Jeanne, thank you for the reminder to me to look deeper. It’s something that I try to do on a regular basis, but is not always easy when my own problems cloud my view of the world. I have so many things going on in my life right now, some of them seen in this video, and it’s hard to see beyond them sometimes.

  • Becca February 15, 2011, 12:45 pm

    I think the video, “Re: Get Service”, starring the great Mandy Patinkin also has an excellent message. He was blunt and to the point. There are some people out there who think they are entitled. THEIR errand comes first, THEY have to be somewhere…nevermind who they cut in front of or cut off. You never know what someone else is going through, but if EVERYONE was a little more considerate, things would go so much smoother. Wait your turn in line. Wait your turn in traffic. It’s simple…treat people the way you want to be treated, but don’t be a doormat.

  • Mojo February 15, 2011, 12:52 pm

    What a lovely video. I’m not a Christian, but yes, I could learn a little patience with my fellow men.

    My sister used to say that, if you put all your troubles out in a heap in front of you, and you could see everybody else’s heaps of trouble, you’d gladly take yours back.

  • Elizabeth February 15, 2011, 2:07 pm

    I was crying by the end. ;_;

  • Aje February 15, 2011, 2:48 pm

    Thank you for this, it was beautiful. 🙂

  • Snowy February 15, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I needed this reminder today. Thank you.

  • Allie February 15, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I had a “parking” incident near my grandmother’s care home several years ago that this post made me think back on. The care home had few parking spots and it was 4 days before Christmas, so they were all taken (and then some). There was a special Christmas luncheon, and as a result there were many visitors that day. I went down the block, turned around and found the last parking spot on the residential street. A lady who turned out to be a resident of the street was also looking for parking and asked me how long I was going to be as I exited my vehicle. She became rather snippy about it when I told her I didn’t know, and started grumbling about the chronic lack of parking for residents. I just turned around and walked away. What she didn’t know was that my father (my grandmother’s youngest son) had died just a few days previous, and her parking problems seemed supremely unimportant to me as a result. I hope I would have reacted politely to her complaints if my circumstances had been happier (unfortunately for her, the reality is that parking is not restricted to residents on that street, and visitors have just as much right to park there as residents), but at the time I was so shell-shocked by my father’s sudden passing that I just couldn’t deal with her.

  • Sickgirl13 February 15, 2011, 4:13 pm

    @ jan-I saw the same thing and I had to do a double take!

  • Rug Pilot February 15, 2011, 5:43 pm

    It reminds me why I feel like putting a bumper sticker on my car that says: No, you are not the center of my universe. I know I’m not the center of anyone else’s .The guy’s first reactions were confusing and annoying because I just accept things as they are. Stuff happens. Go around it.

  • kingsrings February 15, 2011, 6:08 pm

    I worked at a college once for a while, and one day a student’s mother called us up and gave us the riot act because she didn’t like the way we were handling her daughter’s academics. She was as nasty as they come, and we all had a time telling her off privately between us when the phone call ended. Then her daughter called us up shortly afterward and apologized for her mother’s behavior. She explained that her mother had just recently been a longtime higher-up school academic, but was forced to quit and unable to ever work again due to suffering a stroke. Because of that, she was over-involved in her daughter’s academic affairs and also very bitter and angry over the stroke incident. What a wake-up call that was for our office staff! It made us realize what the Dame said in her post, and I keep to that to this day as much as I can.

  • Hellbound Alleee February 15, 2011, 7:07 pm

    I guess we’re all human, and our troubles aren’t the center of the universe either. And being first in line is not important, waiting in line is really not all that bad, expensive coffee drinks are not all that necessary, and we just can’t always know where someone is in life. Those glasses don’t exist. But when you are in the middle of a tragedy, it seems that the people around you shouldn’t behave like everything’s the same, and they should all be sad, too. It’s hard to take comfort in the fact the the universe just doesn’t end when our problems seem like they’ve ended the universe. But we shouldn’t kick ourselves for small breeches of etiquette if we didn’t mean them. And maybe we shouldn’t kick others for it either?

  • kero February 15, 2011, 7:15 pm

    very beautiful video. i wish everybody had these!

  • nannerdoman February 15, 2011, 8:13 pm

    I wonder what the guy would have seen if he’d looked at his own reflection through the glasses?

  • Library Diva February 15, 2011, 8:57 pm

    Thanks for posting that. Definitely a good reminder. I try to keep that in mind when people are aggravating me, but it’s not always easy. It’s important to keep trying though.

  • Acadianna February 15, 2011, 9:49 pm

    Thank you for the wake-up call. I have a feeling we’re all going to be a little more compassionate after seeing this.

  • HonorH February 16, 2011, 3:03 am

    Ellie–while it is definitely rude to steal a parking space, and, ideally, the woman would be able to stay home until her grief isn’t distracting her so much . . . life goes on. Sometimes, you can’t take time off from work or life, no matter how badly you’re hurting. I’ve been that person, not even realizing how badly I was affected by my pain until I almost caused an accident. But not driving was a luxury I just didn’t have.

  • StephF February 16, 2011, 6:19 am

    I used to live near a hospital – a very high pedestrian, high traffic and high immigrant area, also next to a major park where large community events were held. The resultant traffic was just a nightmare – cars everywhere, u-turns where there shouldn’t be, people driving along at a snail’s pace looking for a spot with 20 other cars stuck behinds them, frustrated people parking across my driveway so we couldn’t get in or out…..this list goes on and on. It was so aggravating! And when I would honk my horn/gesture/whatever to an offending party and they’d always say something along the lines of “Be patient! I’m only doing this quickly!”, oblivious to the fact that I woud have to deal with people doing their “quick little thing” 20 times a day, everyday that I lived there.
    It often took my visiting friends, making casual comments about the hospital, to remind me it was actually there and, hence, most people around were probably under a great deal of stress, anxiety, worry and pain. I did try an make an effort to be patient, whenever it was brought to my attention…….but I am only human.

  • Aje February 16, 2011, 9:48 am

    I love this, it’s beautiful. If I may object to a comment- How do you not drive when grieving a friend? Yes, work gives personal days for family members, but there are no days off for friendship. You’re expected to get up and go one with life. It’s like being sick- yes, you should be at home recovering, but most of the time we’re in, doing our jobs because we can’t afford to take a few days off. If the worst thing you do when you’re sad is steal a parking space, I think that etiquette-wise, people should be gracious enough to give you a break. 🙂

  • David February 16, 2011, 11:30 am

    I only have one bone to pick with this video. If he tried to park in that space – because of the angle and distance he is approaching it from he’d clip the car we see parked next to it.

    Good video though.

  • aventurine February 16, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Nanner: I thought the same thing.

    Actually, my inner cynic was wondering when it was going to be revealed that our “hero” was late for work after his last warning and had forgotten that it was his day to bring coffee.

  • Flora February 16, 2011, 4:08 pm

    I get what the video is trying to say, but in this day and age, a strange adult man suddenly taking an interest in a young child would be seen by many as extremely creepy.

  • SS February 16, 2011, 5:55 pm

    Sometimes a person cannot help but be in public while grieving. I was rushing home from work (walking, not driving) in the middle of the day once, and a total stranger near me decides to chastise me about my expression… “Cheer up, the day isn’t that bad”.

    My response (trying to maintain composure and civility and not really wanting to have a conversation with this stranger) , “I’m sorry but I am having a very bad day and I don’t want to discuss it” and let my posture make it clear I’m not in the mood for discussion as I tried to ignore this person.
    Not taking the hint, she continues chirping at me “cheer up! I’m sure it’s not so bad.”
    “I would rather not discuss this. Please leave me alone.”
    And she continues telling me that I need to cheer up and enjoy the day and my day can’t be that bad and the whole way I’m praying that she would STOP ….

    Finally I turn to her and inform her that 20 minutes prior I had been informed that my father had been killed violently and painfully and I was trying to get home before I completely collapsed. Yes, I ended up being rude by snapping at her but there are times when your entire world has disappeared and the only thing you can focus on is putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving.

  • RP February 16, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Why is it called “Get Service” instead of “Get Perspective”?

    Actually, my inner cynic was wondering when it was going to be revealed that our “hero” was late for work after his last warning and had forgotten that it was his day to bring coffee.

    That’s a good point though. Why should we assume that he doesn’t have problems of his own?

    And while I get what everyone, and the video, is saying about what happened to this guy being small slights but small things do build up. It can be frustrating when everyone treats you like you’re invisible all day every day.

    It’s also worth noting that even though the guy got upset he didn’t act out on it. He didn’t even say anything to the guy who cut in line. He may have needed some perspective but he wasn’t a bad guy. He was just frustrated.

  • RP February 16, 2011, 7:11 pm

    @SS – It was the stranger who was rude in that situation, not you. You’re not obligated to be happy 24/7 and you’d asked them multiple times to back off. Seriously, who outright stalks someone to chastise them about their emotional state?

    In fact, that person could have used the glasses from the video.

  • gramma dishes February 16, 2011, 9:04 pm

    SS ~~ No. You weren’t being rude. SHE was being rude. You were merely informative. The only problem is that the information you eventually provided was absolutely none of her business.
    What she was doing could be considered a form of harassment.
    At least you didn’t slap her silly. I’m sorry to admit that given your situation, I’d have been sorely tempted to do exactly that! (I ‘m sure I wouldn’t have, but I certainly would have wanted to!)

  • Chelsey February 16, 2011, 10:30 pm

    @SS: Maybe now she’ll think before she starts telling someone they need to cheer up. I hate when people do that. No one knows why someone doesn’t look happy, so she shouldn’t assume it’s “not so bad.” And, as RP said, you’re not obligated to be happy if you can’t/don’t want to be.

  • Ellen CA February 16, 2011, 10:55 pm

    After standing in a coffee line for 4.2 minutes, he gets to the front and says “let’s see, what do I want?” That’s when he lost me.

  • Rebecca February 17, 2011, 1:45 am

    Reminds me of a woman that came into the store I was working in. She was rather demanding and my co-worker I admit was a tad snippy with her although not exactly rude. Well this customer threw a hissy fit about how rude she was, how someone like that shouldn’t be working there, etc. What she didn’t know was that my co-worker had just that day found out her mother had terminal cancer and therefore had very little patience that day for customers who made whiny demands and expected a smile in response.

  • RMMuir February 17, 2011, 10:15 am

    I’m assuming it’s because it has the Christian message of being here to serve other people, like Jesus did: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 Serving and focussing on others rather than yourself does often help you to get a better perspective on life though!

    I don’t think that there’s anything more stupid or damaging as to say, “cheer up! I’m sure it’s not so bad.” It can be and if you suffer from e.g. clinical depression, than being told to cheer up often just make things worse. It’s not as though people would rather feel all the hurt, pain and despair than be cheery. h.

    A better way to deal with it is like the man that gave me napkins while I was sitting in the library in tears, including one on which he’d written, “Life is hard, but talking helps”

  • RP February 18, 2011, 2:35 am

    @ RMMuir – That makes sense, thanks.

  • monica February 18, 2011, 4:01 am


  • Guard Captain Nefud February 21, 2011, 5:11 pm

    This video makes no sense. We don’t have the benefit of magic glasses to see all the important inner problems of people who act rude or endanger lives on the road while screaming at someone on the phone.

    I could live my life getting cut off by every moron on the road, having people cut in front of me in line, zoom into parking spots I’m clearly waiting for, etc and bowing my head and saying to myself “Well, maybe that person just got fired.” But that doesn’t excuse anything, or solves anything. You’re enabling that crap by ignoring it and making up grand fantasies about what problems they’re going through while patting yourself on the back for being such a compassionate angel of light.

    Also, in the real world, the second that man approached that moron kid who doesn’t know how to look out for cars because “he needs someone to care”, the busybody elderly woman two houses down would call the police, the man would be arrested, and the kid would be coached to testify that he’d been molested.

  • darci March 24, 2011, 4:59 pm

    This video made me more than a little choked up. I’m sure I’ve been that woman in the car. And I know I’ve been that man, so absorbed in myself that I forget to be the hands and feet. Thanks, EH!

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