Why Not Be Nice?

We attended a celebration of a town this weekend, a cowboy celebration with fun things like a cattle drive (Texas longhorns, of course) through main street, an Intertribal Pow-Wow and then a bull riding competition.  The kids had a blast and it was a fun day filled with tons of elements of the old west.

But, as usually happens, one little thing tainted my day and aggravated the tar out of me.  And it had to do with NICE.  Or, as the case may be, NOT NICE.

I have little or no tolerance for people who aren’t nice.  You don’t walk up to a checkstand and smack the checkout person just because the price of milk is more than you’d like, do you?  You don’t spew angry words at a pianist who may have erred in a concert, do you?  There’s absolutely no need for a person not to be nice, most especially to people they don’t even know!

I like the line from Roadhouse way back, said by Patrick Swazye, that was something along the lines of:  Your job is to be NICE.  That’s it.  Just be NICE.”  When someone asked when they weren’t supposed to be nice, he said, “Until I tell you NOT to be NICE.”

So, we get to the bull riding event two hours early.  In the arena is a cowboy mounted shooter’s showcase, which I thought the kids would enjoy seeing.  There are balloons set in pylons and the horse riders have to shoot them and pop them, switching guns in-between.  It was pretty interesting, and exciting for all of us.

Now, the arena where we are is small time.  And small town.  There are bleachers to sit on but there’s also a section in front of the bleachers, separated by some poles welded together, with regular folding chairs in them.  This is where we sat for the showcase because there were so few people there.  And because we didn’t know better, having never been there before.  Just before the showcase was finished, a nice young man came up to us and explained that they had refreshments in a tent for the sponsors, just come on down and help ourselves.  That’s when we realized that this special area, with chairs, was for the sponsors and not for the general population.

No big deal.  Once the showcase was done, we got up and moved to the bleachers as the place was filling up pretty quickly.

A gentleman sitting near us explained that if sponsors didn’t show up, then the kids usually went and filled the seats, so they could see better.  I thought that was nice, so I explained it to the two youngest kids.

The show started and the seats were empty.  An entire section of seats were empty….perhaps a dozen or so seats were going unused.  So, the two kids asked and I told them it was ok to sit there.

Except, it wasn’t.

Now, else I be not nice myself, I’m not going to state the name of the sponsor.  They were a local real estate company.  Don’t even get me started on how I feel about the shape of our mortgage economy and all of the failed mortgages that are ever-present today.  The land prices in these parts are absolutely astounding.  Middle-class folk cannot afford to buy land anymore, it’s triple what it was 10 years ago.  Why?  Well, as far as I’m concerned, the real estate professionals had a hand in this.  And when they sold anything, they got a commission.  Was their commission part of the mortgage?  You bet!  Did they have to return the commission when the mortgage failed?  Nope – and I bet they were standing in line to re-sell the property and get another commission! 


So, a lady who (I assume) was the sponsor looked and me and told me that the kids couldn’t sit there.  Ugly.  Not in a nice way.  In a direct and extremely condescending way. 

“They can’t be there.”

I told the kids to come back and listened to their screams.  Yeah, sorry, I was wrong.  I’ll pay for it with their behavior.  Not fair, I understand, but that’s the way it is.

The next family that came along, she supposedly knew (not a friendly hugging greeting, so she knew them but they obviously weren’t co-workers or friends) she told them to sit in the seats that the kids had vacated.  She just wanted “her” space with “her” people and no one else.

That’s fair – she did pay a sponsor’s fee to get those seats.  I was ok with that.

And then, the ENTIRE REST OF THE bull riding, this woman sat in our direct view of the gates and events.  She got up and down over and over and over again – going to get beer for all of the people in her section.  She’d stop people who walked by and talk to them — everyone STANDING right IN FRONT of us.

I saw perhaps 3 of the 30 bull rides and that was only because the bulls actually moved away from the gates and into my line of vision.

The Queen of Mean recently passed away.  Do you think people are going to remember her for her philanthropy (and she did give her monies away)?  Nope, we’ll always remember Mrs. Helmsley as a mean woman who looked down her nose at the rest of the world who wasn’t in her class. 

I personally have no desire to be remembered as such.  And if that’s what it means to have money, then I’ll stick with my knitting and stay right where I am.  I’m not about to change my NICE ways, just to appease whatever ego I have built up for myself. 

Not nice is not acceptable.

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