It's nice to be nice.


It’s nice to be nice–at least that’s what I was raised to believe. I think it’s a good approach to life but sometimes the reflex to be nice is inappropriate.  I am in agony every time I return an item to a store. Last week I put off returning a $100 item I ordered online because it involved calling Customer Service for a return label and I hated to let those people down.

There are other situations where it doesn’t make sense to be “nice,” if that’s the right word. Years ago I took my company car to be repaired and the owner of the shop wondered aloud “which boss I slept with to get the job.” I should have taken my business elsewhere but instead I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of what to say.

Here is a recent example. A few days ago I had a consult with a doctor regarding back pain. In the room was also a female medical resident, listening and learning. In the course of the interview he asked if I felt pain “during the day when sweeping, doing the laundry or gardening.” That really griped me. What century was this dude born in? But I let it pass because he was a kind man, meant well and I wanted to be nice. The urge to please, not to be thought of as a bitch, is very strong.

Luckily, I did get a second chance. As I swung my legs off the exam table, the doctor observed that I am “quite limber” and asked if I “did a lot of gardening.” I took the opening to tell him that I do a lot of carrying heavy camera equipment up mountains and assured him that I had recently acquired a lighter camera and no longer haul a tripod around. I wish I could describe the look on his face. I hope the medical resident learned something about not stereotyping patients during interviews.  They may not react nicely.


Note:  Angel illustration courtesy of via Photobucket.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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