Although most people have enough common sense to strive to be pleasant and courteous more often than being rude and curt, the average person will readily get upset if things do not go his or her way or if other people do things that he or she disapproves of or finds irritating. After he or she gets upset, what generally follows is a river of unkind epithets, caustic remarks, and, when things get down and dirty, swear words-what some of us label as “verbal diarrhea.” While you may get away with a poor choice of words with some people, it would behoove you not to use the same approach with the following ten people, if you know what’s good for you:
1. Waiters and waitresses. These people handle the stuff that you will be putting in your mouth. Even when they are in a good mood and you are exceedingly courteous to them, there is still no guarantee that they will not drop your dinner rolls on the floor (only to put them back on your plate) or, worse, yet, spit in your food, or something nastier. By mouthing off to them, you greatly increase your chances of eating something that was not on the menu-why would you want to motivate this kind of mishap?
2. Police officers and law enforcement personnel. It is not just that they carry mace, handcuffs, a baton, a Taser, and a gun, but the fact that they have your freedom in their hands. Some people are under the mistaken idea that a police officer has to see them break a law or find something illegal on their person or their vehicle, but, if a police officer wants to make an arrest, there are a million ways she can make it happen. Some police officers, as a matter of fact, carry two items with them that most civilians should know about. One of them is an unmarked gun (in case they mistakenly shoot a suspect and are forced to put a weapon in his hands in order to save their career) and the other is a small amount of drugs (usually some pot or crack-a little something maybe “borrowed” from a previous crime scene?). All they have to say is that they found said “drugs” when they were searching you or your vehicle. If it comes down to your word or theirs, who do you think the courts or a jury will believe, especially if you have a record (even if just a misdemeanour), belong to a minority group, happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, don’t have your immigration papers in perfect order, broke any traffic laws, or have limited resources with which to fight a bogus charge?
3. Correctional officers (COs). For all practical purposes, COs are the equivalent of Captains on boats while they are out at sea. A prison, like a ship, is a separate world of its own. Most of what happens there stays there, which is why so many people get assaulted or killed in prison. Inmates who give COs a hard time generally live to regret it! Some people may think that Correctional Officers must surely be “professionals” who would not possibly take advantage of the isolated and barely supervised (except by other COs and their higher-ups-who used to be COs themselves!) environment, but they are being naïve. As Lord Acton once said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
4. Bosses. Some people make the mistake of telling their bosses off, only to end up either not getting promotions or pay raises; in worst instances, it can even get them fired. While you don’t necessarily have to be a butt-kisser (unless you are really eager to move up the corporate ladder the easy way), you should always treat your bosses with extreme diplomacy.
5. Senior citizens. Older folks deserve a certain amount of respect, especially if they are family, friends or relations of friends. Mouthing off to such persons is just bad form; it can also be a dangerous thing to do if the elderly person has a temper and decides to swing their walking baton (and how can one retaliate against them?) or if a younger person comes to their rescue, possibly doing their own kind of unfriendly “swinging.”
6. Your spouse or significant other. The person you decide to marry will hopefully be your best friend, possibly the person you will share the rest of your life with. Whatever inappropriate language you lavish on the people you love can never be taken back and can have far-reaching repercussions. Making a rule never to mouth off to them unnecessarily may be the single most important rule you will ever make for yourself.
7. Healthcare personnel. These people have your life or the life of your family members in their hands. While one would hope that they won’t kill you for telling them off, they can still do some things (or deliberately fail to do others) that can make your life less pleasant. They can, for example, give you fewer painkillers than the doctor ordered (so that maybe the extra pain will teach you some manners?), see to it that the meal you requested is switched to something less pleasant, or take their time every time you push the “Call Button.” Medicine is complicated and dangerous enough (even when dispensed by well-prepared and well-intended individuals) as it is-why complicate it even more by shooting your mouth off unnecessarily?
8. Your parents. Perhaps you were just not brought up right, but, whatever the sick excuse for ever failing to do so, do treat your parents respectfully and apologize profusely when you, because of liquor or a temporary case of stupidity, mouth off to them. There is simply no excuse for being disrespectful to the people that brought you into the world or took responsibility for your welfare. At the very least, you will not have to deal with a heavy amount of guilt, assuming you have a conscience.
9. People in authority, especially in foreign countries. In general, do not run your mouth to any person who could seriously harm you in some way. This is especially dangerous if in a foreign country. It used to be that Americans were revered or, at the very least, feared, but, these days, we are likely to be thrown in the slammer or harmed in some way, if we say the wrong thing to people in authority. It is difficult enough to maneuver through the complexities of cultural and sociopolitical differences; beyond that, you are likely to say the wrong things simply by virtue of ignorance. Don’t add to that remarks springing from a bad attitude or misplaced priorities-i.e., putting the need to excoriate a “foreigner” above the need to come back home in one piece.
10. Abnormal or potentially dangerous people. Some such people include obviously-mentally-disturbed people, an openly-angry person, a convicted felon (or someone looking or acting like one), or someone with a weapon, especially if he or she goes about waving such in unfriendly ways.