Sunday, April 5, 2009

That's just the way it is.... Why?

I keep hearing "that's just the way it is" or it's variation "that's just how people are" a lot lately. Why do we seem to think that that phrase makes it ok to be less than we're capable of being?

I lost a friend and neighbor recently. I found out that he'd died when my phone rang early the next morning. The call was from a neighbor wanting to know the details of how he'd died. I spent the next week barely able to sleep because my phone kept ringing because more neighbors wanted any dirty, nasty detail I might be able to provide them. Now these people know I work nights and sleep during the day, most of them even acknowledged this by apologizing for waking me up right before they asked their questions. And these are people who are now retired doctors, and laywers, and CEO/CFO's... people who dealt with confidentiality in their professional lives for the previous 30 or more years. YES, my friend had a drinking problem. YES, he had a temper that wasn't nice. But, there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to tell these people nasty things about my friend. I didn't even get to mourn him because I was so busy fielding phone calls.

I work in a VERY small space, that through the week is shared by 12 people. If I leave food in the frig for me to have the next night, the odds are about 50/50 that it will be gone the next night. I arrive for my shift to literally find food and trash on the floor. Usually it's ground in because apparently it's easier to step on it than to clean it up when it first falls. Procedure is to arrive 15 minutes before your shift starts, yet all but 2 of my co-workers can be counted on to show up no sooner than 5 minutes before shift start.... often these people will show up 5 minutes late for their shift.

J and I were apart for a year. He contacted me at the beginning of the year and now we're back together... back together in a long-distance relationship as we now live approximately 1200 miles apart. He doesn't like the phone. He's 'busy' a lot. We've gone from phone and/or email contact 5 - 10 times a day, to a couple of times a week.

And you know what I hear if/when I complain about the above things?

"Well, people knew X was a drinker, of course they want to know if he was drunk when he died. That's just the way people are."

"Well, they see food and think it's ok for them to eat it. That's just the way Y is."

"They don't clean up behind themselves because they know you'll do it. That's just what people do."

"We're back together now, what is there to talk about?"

Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm a freak of nature. But I don't think poor behavior, rudeness, a basic lack of consideration for others is something we should just accept because "it's what everyone is doing". Aren't I a part of that collective 'everyone'? I know I'm sure as hell not doing what they do. I won't be a part of the chain where it's ok to be less than decent because the person I just interacted with was that way.

Why is it ok to just accept that that's the way it is... that's the way people are... if it's just simply wrong???