An Open Letter to Rude People
Three weeks ago, I went to a coffee shop in Brentwood, Los Angeles, and ordered a triple shot cappuccino alongside a few sticks of chocolate, which made quite the superb combination, both in the fabulous richness to the chocolate, as well as the enormous amounts of caffeine surely doing the job in pulling me into rapid overconfidence, getting me to write a few paragraphs in a story I had been dreading to return to and writing a sentence way too long.
Nonetheless, there’s always a steep price to be paid for heavy caffeine intoxication: a ferocious beg from the bladder to release this foreign liquid substance at once. I’m in the middle of a very important paragraph, bladder, can you please chill out for a few minutes? I asked kindly, only to feel this unstoppable force swift closer to surefire escape.
“Crap,” I said aloud (I was in the backroom, a little room with a few desks and WiFi) and got up to ask the barista for a bathroom key.
“No public restroom,” he said.
“Ah. So… um.. no restroom?” I asked again, for some reason.
I strolled around upstairs, looking for someone who might lend me a key. In a commercial office building of this size, about fifteen units, you can be sure that at least one person is willing to be nice that day. To my fortune, the first office I came across had an open front door, and an older woman sitting at a desk inside, typing away. I glanced briefly at her placard, to see she was a chiropractor in occupation. I’d been looking for one for weeks, in regards to an impeding issue forming in my neck. A bathroom, and the need to do a yelp search relinquished. Enchanted was an utter understatement!
“Hi,” I said, as unobtrusively as possible. “So sorry to bother you. But I was just downstairs, taking care of some work, and I would just love it if I could snag the bathroom key for a moment?”
She got up with an angry face, a face as if watching a horror film, stepped toward me.
“What did you say?” she asked, keeping the grouchy face.
“Oh — the bathroom key. If I could just borrow it a minute.”
“Oh alright. Well besides that, I also see you’re a chiropractor, and I actually — ”
She got a hold of the door.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Well, first the bathroom, but forget that. I’ve just been looking for a chiropractor — “
“Well, alright, call us,” she said, and began closing the door in my face.
“Ma’am, look. We can forget about the bathroom. I understand your answer. I just want to talk now about my muscle soreness.”
“Take a card,” she said, and at that moment, the white, wooden door, was indeed closed on me while I formulated my next response to this almost impossible foe.
Did she actually slam the door in my face? Yes, she did actually slam the door in my face. A door got slammed on your face. I walked down the steps, slowly — in part because I was in shock, but mainly because if I were to make any sudden movements, I could surely risk soiling my slacks.
As with most things that happen, I have a tendency to eventually sit back, cross my legs, reflect and analyze what just occurred. So, when I returned to my desk and notebook, that’s what I did: Did she have reason to do this? I asked myself. Probably. She pays rent for the bathroom, the coffee shop downstairs doesn’t. She had every right, legally, to shut the door on the stuttering skinny guy who really needed to piss. But where does “being right” take you in the world? Does it improve your standard of living? Does is it make you happier, being unkind to people? Ultimately, the question is, does her day improve by not allowing my stomach dignity to withdraw its foreign caffeinated substance?
All these ideas formulating quickly, I found myself blasting into a handwritten note that I vowed to give her.
I could be wrong, but I would advise you to try and live treating people more kindly. Since you didn’t really give me a moment to explain myself, this is all that really happened. I was downstairs, at the coffee shop, and needed to use the restroom, but the barista informed me of no public restroom on site. I was being very productive down here, so I would have hated to change my entire day due to this rather minuscule yet impactful situation. Because I walk around with the idea that people, although often misguided, shallow or limited, are generally polite — an idea, which, you have just led me to distance from — I thought I’d see if somebody upstairs would hand me a key to the restroom. You seemed kind enough, so I knocked on your door.
And, coincidentally, perhaps by some working of the higher power, I saw that you are a chiropractor. I have needed one for the last couple weeks — my shoulders slouch forward, I hate it, and it’s beginning to tense up my neck, and even writing — the career of my choice, sadly — feels difficult. So, I got a little excited: restroom liberation, and a nice stumble upon a chiropractor. However, you, being as rude as you were, quickly let me know you are not the right hire for me. I hope you do not treat most people that way — I don’t think you would, or else I don’t know how you’d make rent. I’m not angry enough to hope for something terrible happen to you, or that your business shut down, but I do hope that something very inconvenient and/or annoying happens — like your phone dies in the middle of an important conversation, or the dry cleaners misplace some of your items.
I want to thank you, also, for being rude, because I was pretty stuck with my short story I was working on, and a little shift in focus was all I needed.
Jeremy — somebody who could have/ would have been your newest client’
Then I went back to work.