I have a vague childhood memory of a talk I had with a friend of mine. Just before this conversation, she had asked me for something of mine, something I was unwilling to part with, and I had declined. I don't recall what the item was. I don't recall why I wasn't willing to part with it. I do recall that my declination prompted her to response, "I said please!" in an angry tone.
I remember being surprised at her response. Surprised enough at her response that I have remembered it all these years. I recall that conversation when someone these days says something similar, when they believe that merely saying please is going to magically change my mind about something.
It's a reaction and stance that puzzled me then and puzzles me now. While I agree that asking nicely will certainly help in most cases, asking nicely or saying please doesn't mean that the other person just automatically gets their*) way.
I'm reminded of this today, as I read over an email from someone who wrote to me asking for a truce in a battle I'm not even participating in. She has done some remarkably awful, deceitful, hurtful things, to myself and to a friend of mine. Now that there will be an opportunity for the two of us to be in the same room together, a chance for me to call her on her actions, for her to realize there are consequences to her actions, for her to be personally responsible, she wants "no drama."
Problem is, there is no remorse in her words. There is no apology. There is no regret or consideration that her actions, her deliberate chosen actions, have caused an incredible amount of pain. There is no change in her behaviour, she continues doing the spiteful things she's been doing all along.
But that's okay, she asked nicely.
There are times when I wonder how people can be as cruel as they are. Those times are quiet times, when the world isn't overwhelming, when I'm not rushing to complete some project, when I have time to stop, think and just be. It's then that I think about who I want to be, what kind of person I want to be. The choices made during those contemplative times help me during the more hectic times when I have less time to think.
I see how people like that spiteful, hateful woman are, and I know that I want to be on the opposite side of the spectrum from her.
And I'll ask nicely.
* Oh, how I am struggling with the use of the gender neutral plural when refering to a singular gender-neutral person