The Ethic of Reciprocity, aka the Golden Rule, states that “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”
I hate to be a pessimist in life, because I think it’s a waste of time and energy and causes far too much stress, all of which are unquestionably unhealthy. I’m the kind of guy that tries to make lemonade out of lemons, and if those lemons happen to be rotten, I’ll make them into compost and grow more lemons with them. But when it comes to the Golden Rule, I can’t help but notice the fallacies of others. Typically I’ll just attempt to ignore them, but I realized today that here, on my seldom-read blog, I have an outlet to share with the world (or the ten people who read this) my biggest pet peeve—people who wantonly disregard the Golden Rule as if it were less important than laws regarding jaywalking or removing the tags from linens that have yet to be purchased. In other words, it’s like people just don’t care about others any more, and it drives me batty!
My first vignette is a subtle one. The picture below is of a counter in a public restroom.
I won’t say where it is—although it is not at my home—but it is one I use fairly often. Here you can see that someone has splashed so much water outside of the bowl of the sink that it has pooled around the edges of the counter. The countertop is not big at all, and unfortunately it is the only stable, raised surface in the entire restroom, so if a person—say me, for example—has to place a gym bag or clothing onto this surface while changing, said person must wipe up someone else’s mess or risk getting his or her clothes wet.
This pool of water appears here about as often as I use the restroom. I will not name names to protect the innocent/guilty, but I have a rather strong suspicion of who I think the culprit is. I cannot fathom why he/she creates these messes (OK, I can, but I won’t go there), but I often wonder if his/her bathroom at home looks like this. If that’s the case, well that’s fine and dandy—and gross, but this is a public restroom that others use. When I use a restroom, I try to be as courteous as humanly possible. If I get counters wet, I wipe them clean with a paper towel. If I leave any sort of evidence, I make sure it’s gone before I leave. I think most people tend to do this. Most of us, I hope, abide by the Golden Rule. It’s the ones that don’t that really irk me.
This example is quite paltry compared to some restrooms, and we’ve all seen them. Water everywhere. Bodily fluids and other unspeakables. It completely perplexes me why people must be absolute slobs in public restrooms. I’m sure many of us have had jobs where we’ve been required to clean a restroom, and it is utterly disgusting to have to wipe up someone else’s mess. There are times when I go to use the restroom and see that someone has just totally obliterated a toilet in filth, and while it’s one of the most putrid sights one could imagine, those people aren’t even the ones that offend me the most. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes people play pranks or are just total dolts looking to get a rise out of others. In cases like that, where there has been obvious attention put into the fecal matter at hand, well, to them I just say touché. Nice one. You’re a jerk.
No, it’s the people who unknowingly and inadvertently make messes that bother me the most. You live in a society where there are other people—not just you. For you to go into a restroom, use the facility, create a mess, and then leave without taking a casual glance at whether or not you left any evidence—it just proves to others that you’re an uncaring and insolent butthead. It’s not difficult to clean up after yourself. It’s not difficult to just glance back before you leave. But no, somehow you just manage to ignore it. It’s people like you, the ones who are seemingly unaware of the Ethic of Reciprocity, that make it very difficult for me to be a happy, go-lucky optimist when I have to deal with your inattention to detail.
As I’m sure this will be the first of many of these little posts, I’m going to leave you all with an obvious query. If it were you who had to place items on top of this counter after I made this mess, how would you feel? Not too happy? No, I didn’t think so.