I’m rude. Yep, I know it’s hard to believe, but it has been brought to my attention recently (by a party that will remain unnamed at this time) that I am very rude to people. In all honestly, I’ve never thought of myself as a rude person, but I suppose I am. Here are the two situations that arose and led to this deduction.
Situation One: I do not answer the door during the week if it’s someone I do not know. In our neighborhood, we get quite a few solicitors – selling everything from entertainment books to housekeeping and lawn services to religious propaganda. And not that ignoring the door is the problem, per se, but the manner in which I do it is apparently quite rude.
You see, we have a glass front door that allows the visitor to see right into our living room. In between the living room and kitchen is a counter – that’s where I have my computer. The way the counter is shaped, I am sitting nearly in line with the front door. So if someone is standing on our porch, ringing the bell, they can see me. When the bell rings, I turn my head and look out the door – if it’s a solicitor I ignore them and continue typing or reading or writing away. Am I losing you??? It might be easier to show you what I mean…
This is a view from the porch into our house. See the black bar stool that’s pulled out? That’s where I sit when I’m typing on the computer. I spend a good deal of my day in this very spot – blogging, writing, researching, Facebooking, etc. When the door bell rings, all I have to do is lean back and look around the corner at the door. Then I lean forward and continue what I was doing if I have no plans of answering the door.
I’m not trying to be rude in this, but I do this for three reasons: 1.) I’m 99.999% sure that I’m not interesting in buying whatever services they’re peddling. 2.) I’m a very shy person and I feel really awkward telling people “no”. It makes me feel stingy and cruel and I’d rather avoid them all together. 3.) I’ve read too many emails and heard too many stories of women who were home alone during the day and ended up becoming victims of violent crimes because they answered the door to a person they did not know but were assumed as a solicitor or a utility company worker or a peddler of religious literature.
So I ask you, is valuing my safety being rude?
Situation Two: Like most folks, we have caller ID on our phone. When the phone rings, I check the caller ID and if it’s a number I do not recognize or it is an obvious business/telemarketing call I will ignore it and let it go to voice mail. However, sometimes the ID will say Out of Area or the number will be a local number and a name I don’t recognize. With these I tend to answer because it could be family members calling on their cell phones or someone from church.
Now here’s where the “rude” part comes in. There are times when I’ve been duped by the caller ID and the caller really is a telemarketer or one of those silly surveys. In most cases, I will just hang up without saying a thing because they’re usually an automated service and I’m not really going to be talking to a live person. But there are other times when I’ve actually been called by a live person who’s immediately started in on their “spiel” without even giving me the chance to get past my “Hello?”. Not only is this frustrating for me, but it’s nearly impossible to interrupt them. And believe me – I’ve heard some of these people with amazing breath control – one guy actually went on for about 2 minutes without stopping to draw in a breath.
If I do mange to stop them mid-spiel the rebuttal responses kick in. How many times and ways do I have to say “no” before they’re going to cut me lose? I’ve even had a few of these telemarketers get quite nasty with me when I’d told them that I was not interested in their services – one guy (who was trying to sell me an extended warranty on my car) even told me to “Have fun wasting all your money on car repairs.” Talk about rude – that was just uncalled for!
But to be fair, it’s not always the telemarketers who are looking to sell us some useless service we’ll never use. Sometimes the calls come from the St. Jude, the United Way, or the Shriner’s – trying to raise money to pay for medical care for underprivileged kids. Or the local police department trying to raise money for bullet-proof vests and swat team equipment. Or the local fire department trying to buy Christmas presents for the wives and children of firefighters who’ve lost their lives in fires. Sometimes it’s really good charities and causes that want to make a difference. How does one say “no” to that and not feel like a schmuck, I ask you?
It’s not that I’m opposed to those kinds of charitable organizations – not at all. I appreciate our police men and firemen who willingly put their lives on the line for my safety and protection. And I think organizations like St. Jude’s and United Way and the Shriner’s do a noble work and they do need our support. But my dilemma comes in not knowing what kind of leeway we currently have in our budget for these kinds of extra donations. We give regularly and generously to several organizations already, including our local church – but those are donations that both Sam and I agreed to make. These are just random and unplanned. And quite honestly, I feel really guilty when I say “sorry, at this time I’m not in a position to make a donation,” knowing full well that our police officers are being shot at on a daily basis and they really do need more Kevlar vests.
So I ask you, is hanging up without saying a word really rude? Or is it compassionate since I’m saving this person from verbal rejection and I’m saving them time so they can get onto their next call.
What say you?