The Golden Rule

Let me paint you a picture of something that I witnessed recently.

A couple of weeks ago I made a routine stop at the gas station. The credit card service at the pump was down, so I had to go inside to pay. All the pumps had this glitch, so there was a line at the register. The woman working that day was noticeably overwhelmed and her demeanor implied that she was naturally shy. The line started to dwindle down and I was one person away from paying. While I checked emails on my phone I heard the man in front of me say to the woman working:

“You know, you should smile more. Say nice things, like, have a good day. And smile”.

I looked up to see the woman’s face turn bright red as she let out nervous giggles. And he repeated it again, “smile”.

The man stepped to the side while he put his change in his wallet. I walked up to the register, said “$20.00 on pump 4 please and if you don’t feel like smiling, that’s OK with me.” She looked at me like she was about to bust into tears and whispered a thank you.

Here’s the thing, society: please stop telling women all the things they SHOULD be doing.

Yes, she works with the public, so we want her to not be mean, aggressive or unpleasant. Her only crime was being shy though. Then when she was put on the spot, she was embarrassed. If her actions and interactions were deemed “incorrect”, then that is something for her employer to address not a random man who thinks he has the authority to correct a woman’s demeanor.

Now, I’m not normally a person who likes to take orders from the politically correct police, but we need to be a little more sensitive when we use the word “should”.

Like:

You should want to aspire to marriage.

You should be able to live debt free by the time you’re 30.

You should be sugar and spice and everything nice….

Should, according to the standard of whom, exactly?

The incident that I spoke of at the gas station might seem minor and unsubstantial to most, but it struck a chord with me. The only thing we all should be doing is working on ourselves and building each other up. Not “shoulding” each other into submission.

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Michelle Sabato

Michelle is an actor and writer who was born and raised in Cleveland's Little Italy. Some of Michelle's hobbies include: reading, writing, film and carrying conversations solely made up of movie quotes.

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