Yesterday, I had a big AHA MOMENT, as the buzz calls it these days..... particularly since returning to the US from Romania, I've seen that I am easily frustrated with people in public settings. I have had a heightened sense of expectation for customer service and a general, all-around kindness. Possibly, living in RO helped make this happen because, although I love Romanians, I must say in public (like stores, etc.) many of them are rude and unconcerned. So, I thought "things would be different here." Boy, was I wrong!
Anyhow, I realized that my expectation for courtesy was usually dashed by rude, unconcerned, even ugly clerks, etc. and I was shocked. However, the good news is that I know this now and I can leave that expectation at home and not always be so disappointed. Most of you reading this may not understand, but some will.... America has changed a lot in the 6 years we were away and it has all been for the worse.
We encountered rude teachers at our girls' schools, mean-spirited workers at churches we've visited, down-right ugly behavior with clerks (particularly at Wal-Mart), careless servers in food places, and a lot of general "not my problem" attitudes.
One of the things we've seen, and it is the most shocking and (paradoxically) the most expected, is that (in general) people who are calling themselves "believers" or "Christian" have tended to consistently demonstrate the lowest forms of personal interaction. We both recently commented that if we were not believers, it would be very difficult to want to ever attend most churches because of the people already there.
On Easter Sunday, after church, we were eating at Golden Corral. Seated next to us was a large party (about 8 or 9 people) who were dressed for church. They were loud and in our time there we couldn't help but hear their conversations: the entire meal was spent talking about people, particularly bashing Jehovah's Witnesses and "one-uping tales" of all of the tricky things they liked to do to them, and simply talking about people behind their backs. It appeared that the loudest member of the group might be the pastor. We were very tempted to do two things:
1. ask them what church they attended so we could let them know we'd be sure not to visit it.
2. tell them we were JW's just to see the look on the faces, tell them we'd been curious about visiting a church, and that they'd been a big help in reminding us we wanted nothing to do with it.
.....once again, believers behaving very poorly in public!