Gretchen Rubin

I’m trying to cure myself of a nagging fault.

I have a nagging fault that seems like it would be easy to conquer, but somehow I can’t cure myself of it: rushing to get in front of other people. I never actually cut in line, but I do zip ahead when the right thing to do would be to wait patiently for someone who is moving slowly.

I’m always ashamed afterwards, but somehow, in the moment, I find myself repeating the same rude behavior.

I see someone just ahead of me, moving slowly toward a sales clerk, a door, an elevator, or some other destination to which I’m headed.

In a flash, I reason out something like, “I have one item, she has a cartful and is dawdling along, it’s ok to dart in front of her, because I’ll be fast and she’ll be slow.” Or “That man is walking so slowly that the elevator will go before he gets there. So it’s okay for me to rush past him before the doors close.”

Objectively, I’m probably right. But I realize how unpleasant it is to be the person who is practically knocked over when someone (that would be me) rushes past.

People who are moving slowly because they’re chatting or pushing strollers don’t mind much. But older people mind a lot. I can see by the way they move out of the way that they’re unpleasantly startled by my behavior.

After I do it, I always feel guilty. I scold myself, saying, “Over the course of the year, that kind of rudeness will probably save me a total of five minutes. It’s not worth it. Be courteous. Remember karma: one day it will be my turn to be the frail elderly lady in the grocery store.”

But when the moment is happening, I zoom forward without thinking. That’s no excuse, I know, and I’ve been trying to be mindful of what I’m doing so I can control myself.

Thus far, I would say I’ve made only limited progress. But I’m working on it.

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