Resolve to be civil in 2018
Millions of people the world over enter the new year full of optimism and inspiration, clutching newly minted resolutions to their hearts with a fervor exclusive to people for whom hope springs eternal
We’re all guilty of it. “This year, I’m finally going to quit smoking,” we tell ourselves. Or, “I’m going to lose 40 pounds.” Or, “I’m really going to put a dent in that credit card debt.” You get the idea.
If you’re anything like me, New Year’s resolutions are really more like New Year’s Day resolutions. By the time Jan. 2 rolls around, all those life-changing decisions I’d made only hours earlier have fallen by the wayside. Not because I don’t want to improve my situation or my surroundings, but because I’m a creature of habit and, as we all know, habits are really hard to break. If the third time isn’t the charm, maybe the 30th time will be. Or so I keep telling myself.
So this year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions for myself, I decided to try suggesting a resolution for other people. It’s simple really, just four little words: Think before you speak.
On New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend and I went to dinner at a slightly hipstery restaurant in downtown Chattanooga that shall remain nameless. Because of the holiday, the place was packed and we had to wait about an hour for a table, which was absolutely fine with us. We’re reasonable people and we understand how this works. We get a table and order dinner and drinks. So far, everything is great.
The waitress was busy, so it took a while before she could get to us for the standard mid-meal check in. I’ve waited tables before and I know what it’s like to have to hustle, so I cut her more slack than some diners might.
But, when she finally did make her way over to check on us, instead of asking if everything was OK or if we needed more drinks, she looks down at my mostly devoured bowl of pasta and says, “Wow! You must really like that! Most people only eat about half of it and ask for a box to take the rest home.”
By this point in the evening, I’d had a couple of Sloshed Housewives (a delicious cocktail that I highly recommend) and my first instinct was to take my fork and find out how deeply I could plunge it into her thigh before someone tried to stop me. My boyfriend must have read my mind because in the span of a few seconds, his expression morphed from “did that really just happen?” to “oh no, what’s going to happen next?”
It’s worth noting that while the portion sizes at this restaurant are certainly large enough to be a meal, they’re not serving penne in 55-gallon drums.
I’m proud to report that I kept my composure. OK, maybe, just maybe, I shot her a filthy look, but I didn’t raise my voice or commit assault by cutlery. In fact, I didn’t say anything. While I bit my tongue so hard it nearly bled, my boyfriend politely asked for the check. Which she brought, after first making sure to ask us if we wanted dessert. Woman, you just basically called me a hippo, what makes you think I’m gonna let you pad this bill?
What this waitress didn’t know was that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast that morning so by the time we finally got a table I was really hungry. She also didn’t know that I have a long and mortifying history of fainting when my blood sugar drops too low, so I ate a little faster than I would have otherwise. And yeah, I’ll admit it, she was right. I really did like that pasta. It was delicious. While slender is not a word anyone will ever use to describe me, I really didn’t need a random waitress to point out that maybe I’d done too good a job of cleaning my plate.
I’m sure the odds are good that she meant no offense and simply said the first thing that popped into her mind. And therein lies the problem. While she likely meant nothing more than trying to make sure we were pleased with our meal, what I heard was, “hey, just in case you thought you didn’t need to feel like crap about yourself tonight, I’m here to remind you that you’re wrong.”
Because my boyfriend is a better person than I am, despite being shocked by her comment, he didn’t hold the waitress’s transgression against her and tipped her generously. I hope karma was paying attention and rewards him for his kindness. As for me, she kind of put a damper on the evening for a little while and I’m not proud to say that I found myself hoping that karma would find it appropriate to slash her tires.
So, instead of once again making a resolution that I know I’ll be making again next December, I’ve decided to start 2018 by putting out a request for thoughtfulness. Civility and kindness are in shockingly short supply these days and maybe if we all take a second and think about how what we’re about to say is going to affect someone else we can make life a little bit easier for everybody. And who wouldn’t appreciate that?
Andrea Agardy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.