Strategy of common courtesy

Jason Okamoto

Not long ago, somewhere in South Central Los Angeles, a very tired version of me walked into a 24-hour quickie mart in search of a refreshing beverage.

“Hello!” I said energetically, slamming my Red Bull on the checkers counter.

“Hey,” the male clerk mumbles back without so much of a look in my direction.

“Have a nice night,” the clerk says in a routine manner.

I respond with a nice, “Thanks, you too.”

He snickers and gives me a dirty look.

“Yeah, I’m really going to have a nice time working here all night.”

I sensed a little sarcasm.

“Well, what I meant was, I hope you don’t get stuck-up and shot.”

This frustrated clerk was momentarily taken aback. For a second I thought he was going to beat the crap out of me for trying to be witty. It would have been a very justifiable reason to kick my ass, but instead he grinned.

“Thanks, I hope I don’t get shot either,” he said with a smile.

Ever since that day I realized my interactions involving politeness are the product of sincerity and fakeness working hand in hand. Whether that person is a well-known acquaintance or a complete stranger, I always want to make the best of our daily mandatory discourse. I honestly did not want that clerk to be murdered, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be a catastrophe if he had been. He would soon be forgotten anyway.

In general, most people act polite to strangers to make things easier This is a good idea, and it should not wither away simply because of one’s negative “issues.” People are always saying that you should keep it real, but I say that everyone should keep it fake.

If everyone were a hundred percent sincere then there would be far less acts if courteousness, and the amount of public animosity would increase.

For example, when opening or holding doors for other people. I could let doors slam in others faces, but I choose not too, because I am after that grateful smile and that friendly “thank you.” I could easily care less if that person doesn’t truly appreciate that I am not a strong guy and keeping some heavier doors from slamming isn’t easy for me. Even if millions of other people have seen that same generic smile I am really glad just to get one. On the other hand, it’s different if you don’t acknowledge with appreciation the deed that’s been done then shame on you. I hope you die. This is absolutely the type of animosity trying to be avoided. I don’t want to think this about anybody.

It gets trickier when dealing with more serious relationships, like close friends. Some might argue that by these discussed standards of fakeness, there is no possible way humans can form close and honest relationships.

I have made most of my friends at times when I have been the most unlike myself. No matter how much some formal settings have made me want to puke, going for the Academy Award has most always served me well. It should however be noted that no one really deserves a special prize for this acting, because we all do it and it is nothing to be particularly proud of.

It might be best to compare this formal dialogue to a sport, like tennis. It starts off as a nice volley, but as the match goes on, the shots come a little harder. Not before long an intense game breaks out.

If we can communicate better then we will co-operate better. And when communicating, we should not discredit all types of lying or dishonesty. If we can’t act fake with each other, then how can we ever be real with each other?