I don’t know if it’s because I’m Canadian, Atlantic Canadian, or just raised that way, but I have a difficult time being rude. To me, walking away from someone when they are talking to me, whether I know them or not, whether I want to talk to them or not, whether I want to be part of the conversation or not, is rude. I have always been this way and do not forsee this changing.
Yesterday was Canada’s 145th birthday! (Happy birthday Canada!) We were up and going at 7 am to finish our prep for the day. We wanted to be downtown by 10 am and were planning on hanging around until about 11 pm.
Whenever there is a big event for our family (holidays, birthdays, random gatherings, races, etc) our group is always between 8 and 12 people, 4-5 of those being children. For gatherings in large crowds downtown, we have a system set up. Gathering places, transportation, meals, snacks, and even the pattern in which we walk from one location to another is preplanned.
After supper, we were walking from the (Halifax) Commons to the waterfront. Mom and my sister were leading the line with 2 of the kids, my sister-in-law and I were in the middle with 3 kids, and my brother and Dad were pulling up the rear. Once we had crossed Cogswell St., a man approached those of us in the middle of the pack. He was handing out these (rather ugly) painted and decorated pieces of wood in the hopes to get his product out there so that people would want to buy them in the future. He handed one to my sister-in-law while going through his spiel. When he finished talking, he (just) noticed the fact that were three children with us. As we thanked him, he handed one to L as well.
L forgot his manners for a moment (or maybe he was just stunned by the fact that a gaudily decorated piece of wood had been thrust into his hands), and did not say thank you. Like I have done (and probably every other parent as well) 1000 times before, I reminded him by asking “what do you say?” Out of habit, I made the mistake of asking him in French. This amazed the “aspiring entrepreneur”.
His immediate reaction to my automatic reminder in French was “Parlez-vous français?” I quickly answered that I only speak a little French and hoped that the conversation would be left there and we could be on our way. Of course not!
After continual questions about if the kids could understand what I said, an explanation that they were expected to use some French every day, L trying to speak to him in rapid-fire French (which I’m sure this man understood NONE of), and whether or not we were from the area, he seemed to think the fact that 4 out of 5 of the children with us understood and can speak some French was absolutly astonishing. He seemed to think that the children being able to speak French and English surely meant that one of these kids would be the future Prime Minister. By the time we had gotten away from this guy, we had been standing there for over 10 minutes and had three more blocks of wood pressed into our hands.
This guy did not ask for money, quite the opposite, he refused when Dad tried to pass him some. He did not seem to have any ulterior motives whatsoever. He seemed like he just wanted to pass on his wares and socialize. I couldn’t bring myself to be rude enough to just walk away from him.
We spent ten minutes of our day talking to this man and then eventually left him behind. We have five colorful blocks of wood and an interesting encounter to show for it. L was able to show off a bit and found out that his bilingualism does indeed open doors he would never be able to consider otherwise (not that I ever really envisioned politics as a path that he would be likely to choose).
Can you walk away from someone who is just trying to make conversation? Does it make you feel like you’re rude?
No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!