Late last night, I popped into the store for two items. There were only two checkout lines open, both feeding from the same line. Both were going painfully slowly.
The guy in front of me was a hipster stereotype. His cart was loaded with at least 142 items. I stood quietly behind him. When he got up to the conveyor belt, he shot me a look as if to say, "Your Monsanto stings my nostrils," and proceeded to unload his items.
There's something riveting about someone who has completely different thought processes than you. Anytime I'm in a line with 142 items (though it's usually closer to 14.2), and the person behind me has two, I offer to let them go in front of me. No sense in constipating the line, right? I prefer to jam the cogs of conformity, not the gears of the grocery line.
This isn't always how people think, and that's OK. It genuinely doesn't come naturally to some people, and it doesn't automatically make them jerks. But cases like this seem almost aggressive, and that isn't natural either. I'm guessing this guy gave up nature when it went mainstream.
Ooh, tired hipster joke. Maybe I'm not so saintly myself. Still, I try.
This ties into something I've thought a lot throughout my life — it's tough to be good. There really isn't much incentive to be good, because bad people are so much better at being bad. Being laid-back, humble or meek guarantees that you'll spend your life fending off type-A predators. (In America especially, being bad is often very good for business.) Conversely, virtue is its own reward. You can't expect people to reciprocate or pay it forward. All you can do is be the best person you can be and hope it rubs off at some point — all the while not letting others' shortcomings rub off on you.
It's hard, I know. But it's a better way to be.