Two sides to every story

In our society, especially in crowded Southern California, we are faced daily with treatment by others ranging from complete indifference to outright hostility. It is an unfortunate fact these days that people are usually too self-absorbed to acknowledge the existence of anyone else long enough to extend common courtesy to each other.

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By Joseph Kunkle

By Joseph Kunkle

In our society, especially in crowded Southern California, we are faced daily with treatment by others ranging from complete indifference to outright hostility.

It is an unfortunate fact these days that people are usually too self-absorbed to acknowledge the existence of anyone else long enough to extend common courtesy to each other. We always assume the worst, thinking that they did these things just to annoy us.

If you find the rat race is too negative, and you find yourself getting more and more cynical, maybe its time to step back and look at this naughty behavior in a positive light.

To put on the other guy or gal’s shoes, no matter how much they hurt your feet, and walk around in them awhile.

One example of this is the cell phone; we like to gripe about idiot motorists who drive worse than drunk people, and rightly so, but when the shoe is on the other foot and you have a cell phone call while driving, you would probably answer it, too.

This guy who cut across three lanes of traffic just so he could drive 50 mph in front of you in the fast lane, though you might be tempted to give him a single-finger salute, you might not know that this same person has possibly suffered a minor stroke and is frantically trying to make himself understood to the 911 operator. It could happen.

As you stand in line at the grocery store and observe a lady making her purchases while talking on the cell phone, you notice that she is rudely ignoring the cashier who is waiting for her to pay, and you are frantic from listening to that annoying beeping sound her cell phone makes.

Though it may be sorely tempting to seize her cell phone and plant it in the end zone, you might also try to realize that though this lady whom you are sure must have grown up in a basket and been fed with a slingshot, might actually be suffering from agoraphobia. She could be uncomfortable around strangers, and she is possibly being coached through her first exposure session by her therapist. It could happen. The amazing amount of litter found on campus, some lying right next to a trash bin, might lead you to believe that many Riverside Community College students leave campus each day to go home to their personal pig sty.

On the other hand, maybe these would-be swine have seen the campus caretakers diligently grooming the campus and they just want to make sure that they have job security.

There are always two sides to every story. Someone who spits chewing gum onto the sidewalk in the heat of the summer might be doing it to protest working conditions on Mexican chicle farms, not the obnoxious jerks that you might think them to be.

The cigarette butts littering the almost smoke-free RCC campus are obviously placed there by concerned citizens to remind passers-by of the health dangers of tobacco use.

The people constantly talking in class are merely aural learners. If someone has spilled catsup all over benches in the A.G. Paul Quadrangle, it was probably because its resemblance to blood made a telling anti-war statement.

The people who blast music from their cars while dropping off or picking up students are actually test subjects in an ongoing experiment in the long term effects of repeated concussions on asphalt. It could happen. There are millions of people in this world, and there are millions of possibly valid reasons for what would first seem to be discourteous behavior.

Most of these folks are just like you, with head and fingers and everything. They have their reasons for this behavior, and if you would only take the time to ask, you might come to learn the truth about them and their problems.

Before you get on your high horse and denounce the seemingly obnoxious or indifferent behavior of those around you, please take the time to walk around in their shoes for awhile.

You might learn a thing or two.

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