Sunday, April 28, 2013

Civilization isn't nigh

The water fountains in our office dispense at a stingy trickle and in the time needed to fill an entire bottle you usually find another person waiting to get a drink; some wait to fill a cup, others to top their bottle up. In my mind the social contract dictates that cups trump bottles so I usually yield access to the tap even if I’m in the middle of filling my bottle. Most often people nod, smile, say thanks, or on the rare occasion insist on waiting. However, many others, in numbers larger than I would have guessed, don’t even acknowledge the gesture and reach for the tap with a sense of entitlement. I had promised myself to wait till I encounter at least 5 people who lack the courtesy to thank before I made this post. I hit my target in the first week.

Denizens of a crowded country are probably habituated to seizing an opportunity and moving on. You see disregard for fellow humans in traffic or at any ticket counter. Maybe I am unfairly wearing the firang goggles that people of my generation pick up on their travels abroad, but I feel disheartened. If you don’t mind being a jerk at office where you’ll meet your colleagues repeatedly, why would you be civil to strangers?