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In my last article I alluded to two topics which simultaneously presented themselves to me in the same establishment. The first encounter resulted in “Take-out In a Coffee Shop”. It is now listed in my archived articles. The second topic happened when I could no longer take the aroma of teriyaki mixed with coffee so I went outside to sit on the patio.

It was a gorgeous, sunny and almost warm day. Rare for February in Seattle. I sat at a table and looked over the parking lot and other businesses. There were two guys behind me – same age as the teriyaki eaters inside.

I was happily swilling my caramel latte until someone spit. I mean they spit so hard you could hear it land (and bounce) on the pavement. Four letter expletives followed as the non-spitter went off about overspray on his shoe. For the next 10 minutes I endured swearing, spitting and discussion about recent sexual conquests. It was nauseating to hear. And frightening to know that these men were surrounded by other people all within ear shot yet they went on and on and on. Did they equate sitting outdoors in bistro chairs to being in their own living room, talking during a football game or poker night?

At one point I asked them if they could please speak and act more respectably. Their response was, “You can leave”. Another man, thankfully, rose to my defense and said, “Look around. Do you honestly think anyone wants to hear what you’re saying?”

Again they invited the gentleman to leave and kept right on talking. It was like we were all invisible and they had every right to spit, swear and talk smack as if they were in a private room.

The fact that the take-out tackiness and spitting & swearing happened at the same establishment on the same day causes me to wonder how many other people and businesses have to suffer because a few people believe they have “rights”. We as human beings have the right to act like human beings. We don’t have the right to act like animals. Actually animals are more considerate to each other than these two young men were.

Before your rights come into play, you have obligations. You have an obligation to the human race to act like a considerate human being. Yes it is manners and it is etiquette. But those two words equate with courtesy and consideration. Courtesy is a huge reason why everyone likes one person and despises the other. It isn’t because one’s funnier, prettier, smarter or wealthier. It’s because one person is considering the feelings of other people before themselves. It’s a reciprocal concept that’s hard to grasp for many in our human race.

To quote Hellen Keller:

“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us, which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.”

You can be superficial and uncaring of others. You can spit around strangers. You can swear in public and you can talk all the smack you want within earshot of your grandmother. These are things you can, indeed, do. When doing these things, however, consider your character, your integrity, and your self-worth.

If you are going to act this way, keep in mind there are consequences. You can say you have “the right” to do it. But consider this: would you hire yourself for a job? Would you rent your room out to a person who exercises these “rights”? If you were to allow honesty into your character, you would say “no”.

Now ask yourself one more question. If you were on a bus, would you want to endure another human spraying their “rights” all over your shoes and into your ears?

I didn’t think so.

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