Today, I had an interesting encounter in the parking lot of my son’s elementary school. As I was getting out of my car, another mom pulled up in space next to mine. Her daughter quickly hopped out of the school and cheerfully said “Hi” to my son. Rex returned the hello, and then the mom came around from the driver’s side. I smiled and said hello to her, and she gave me an icy stare and said nothing. I said hello again, and she turned around and went to get her daughter’s things out of the car.
Hunh? My husband and I first met her in the open house the first week of class. I worked side by side with her at a class party, and I’ve seen her countless times in the hallway. She knows who I am, and I know her. So, what was the problem today? I have no bloody idea, but I was irked by the snub, and curious to understand what her problem was.
Ten years ago, I would have taken it personally and confronted her on her rudeness right then and there. But, I like to think I’ve grown a bit since becoming a mom, so I took a deep breath and let it go. However, I did call a mom friend who also has a son in this class to get the scoop. What I found out was that she is apparently engrossed in PTA work this week and probably very busy. My friend said not to take it personally, and that this was her typical modus operandi.
I appreciate my friend’s insight, and certainly felt a little better that the behavior wasn’t directed at me personally. However, it made me wonder how this gal has managed to get by in life with the notion that when you’re busy, you don’t have to be polite. In my world, this isn’t an option.
As a business owner, I certainly can’t turn on or off politeness depending on my level of busyness. I have to be respectful, or I’ll lose clients. Even when I’m under a tight deadline, which is actually most days, I still use my manners when talking with clients, vendors, and even other moms in the parking lot. And, when I experience individuals in a business setting that have attitudes similar to this mom, I choose not to work with them. My life is too busy to deal with bad attitudes and rudeness, and there are far too many wonderful people out there who are kind and generous with their “hellos”.
Ironically, this mom with the problem in the parking lot is very active in the PTA – an organization that is supposed to foster goodwill between the school and the parents. It seems her attitude is in direct contradiction to her mission. I wonder if she used this same approach in her working life, or if she saved this for dealing with her peers at the elementary school. Hmmm!
I turned today’s little situation into a lesson for Rex. I complimented him on his friendly nature and how he said hello to his schoolmate. It’s my responsibility to teach my son to be kind and polite, and I will strive to do this each and every day by showing what kind and polite looks like. I certainly hope that this mom’s daughter has some other role models who are guiding her down the right path, too.