The other day I had an epiphany. No, really. I have these from time to time. What came to my mind as another person bumped into me at the grocery store right after someone bumped me with their cart (neither apologized) was that I wasn’t that important to these people. I was so insignificant that I didn’t even deserve an apology for them running into me. And you know what, you’re not that important either.
I had to think hard about this. Who is the most important person I know? I know a lot of people and many of them are considered important, but if something happened to that important person, I would still carry on. If something happened to me! Hey, I’m the most important person I know. If something happens to me then I’m in trouble. So the most important person in my life is me.
This may sound selfish, but hey, it’s my life and yes, I’m concerned about it.
But I also consider myself a considerate person. I care about others and try to look out for other people. I apologize when I run into someone and I always try to make sure that I excuse myself when I get in someone else’s way. Many times this ‘excuse me’ when passing between a shopper and the products on the aisle goes unnoticed and that’s because…you guessed it, I’m not that important to the person I just passed in front of. Odds are they didn’t even hear what I said because I’m so unimportant to them that my words may have been a smelly breeze.
Some people take their own self importance to new levels where you might consider them rude, arrogant, self serving. Take driving for example. How often have you been in traffic and you’re in a long line for the exit ramp. You saw a long way off and got over in time to make your exit. But there are those people who insist on cutting in at the last minute. Why? Because their time is more valuable than yours, that’s why. They’re much more important than you are and where they need to get to is that much more important.
When I start to look at things from another’s perspective, it all starts to make sense. People aren’t jerks on purpose, they just think they are the most important person in that place in time. Those people that bump into you are the store? They didn’t even see you because you are that unimportant to them. What they’re there for is far more important than anything you could possible be there for and you’d best just stay out of their way.
There are also people who might be the nicest people you know. They might go to the store and they become so focused on what they need to get that they don’t even think about the other people around them. Odds are they don’t even see you. You might as well be a tree in their way because you aren’t what they need. How often have you bumped into a person I the store and didn’t even see that it was a friend from high school that you haven’t seen in 10 years? You probably passed by that person a dozen times in that same store and never even noticed them. This means you too suffer from I’m-more-important-than-you-itis.
Like I said, it affects everyone now and again. It affects some more often than others. Some don’t even know they have this condition and will insist they’re not trying to be rude, or inconsiderate, or inattentive.
Does this excuse this behavior? In my mind, no. I understand that living in a large city like San Diego you’re exposed to people on a constant basis and 99.9% of those people live lives that you know nothing about. That doesn’t make them any less important in this world than you. Oh, I know from time to time you’re in too big of a rush to care if you just cut someone off on the freeway, but it’s little actions like these that lead to bigger actions by the important person that you just cut off. Then you wonder why this person is so upset. You are, after all, in a hurry. You have somewhere to go, don’t you? They’re just in your way. They’re slowing you down. They not as important as you are.
Like I said, I’m as guilty as anyone of being one of these people from time to time, but I do make an effort to not be ‘that guy’ and be a little more considerate, a little more patient, a little more understanding. But there are times when enough is enough and one too many ‘important’ people will bump me and I’ll feel the need to say something. The last time this happened I turned and said ‘excuse me’ in a loud, rude tone and the little girl who could barely push the shopping cart looked at me, turn, and hugged momma. Yeah. I got an evil eye from mom. Made me feel so much less important.
So take with you that I understand that you’re the most important person in your life. Just take a moment when another person cuts you off, bumps into you, ignores you at a stop sign, that they are the more important person to them and where they need to go and what they need to do is the most important thing they could possibly be doing. If you take with you this understanding, what that person does will irk you just a little less.
Now go! And be un-important in the most important way you can!
Until Next Time!