Saturday, 20 December 2008

Play Nicely

Today, in a much deserved break from revision (yes, I am fully aware that I haven't properly started yet, but it's a good idea to start calmly and fully relaxed, right?) I decided to pop to a shopping centre to return a scarf I was recently gifted. It wasn't too bad, but it was also decidedly not something I'd wear and was also beginning to unravel.

I waited for the bus, armed with a book and then got on and continued to read. After a while, the voice of an old-ish man interrupted me: 'is that a good book?'. I politely replied in the affirmative, but he then attempted to begin a conversation about reading; he hasn't read a book for years, although his wife is an avid reader. All the while, a chorus of deafening alarm bells was ringing, embedded in my brain through years of extensive drilling: don't talk to strangers/especially not old-ish men. I not-so-politely-now ignored him and again continued to read.

The old-ish man got off on the next bus stop, and now I was beginning to feel mildly bad. Maybe he was just a lonely old man who likes reading... now I was feeling really guilty. But sometimes you just can't take the risk of being nice.

When I got to the shop which I knew the scarf was from, I now started to wonder if returning gifts is a little morally dubious. But I also knew that it was better than allowing the gift to languish unwanted and unravelled in a dark corner of my wardrobe. So I went to the tills and asked to return it, in my nicest voice . At first the lady said I couldn't have a refund because I didn't have a receipt, but after asking her if she is sure in the same super-friendly voice, I was granted my refund.

The money was burning a hole in my pocket. After a little while browsing the fashiony shops and admiring a pair of velvet and lace leggings on a mannequin (out of stock) I remembered that I was in need of a clear plastic pencil case. I headed to the nearest stationers. There, when asking a shop assistant where said clear plastic pencils cases might be, another shop assistant interrupted, repeating those three words: out of stock. But the first friendly SA pointed me in the direction of the pencil cases, in case there were some left. When I got there, there was row upon row of clear plastic pencil cases in green, pink and regular transparent!

So again, I went to the till. I paid for my pencil case (99p! What luxury!) and headed back home. On the bus, I gave my seat to an older than old-ish man. Now I am home and left on the nature of niceness, and how nice it is when people are nice. And how nice the effect of being nice is, and how sometimes it's just too risky to be nice.

One note to remember: don't use adjectives such as 'nice' in English exam papers. Tend towards more impressive synonyms such as genial, affable, agreeable, dulcet or courteous.


  1. Ah, this is a lovely little post. I often feel bad because I brush off people who approach me in public too...but they make me feel so vulnerable when I am alone!
    P.S. The red light in the pictures is partially from the Christmas lights. I also edited them with though. :)

  2. Your post made me a little sad. It's too bad that we have to mistrust/distrust people on the bus, simply because a few maniacs have ruined it for everybody. :(

    On the other hand, you do have to be careful. I think you did a good thing giving your seat up, and the niceness will keep on flowing forward.

    Nice job.

  3. Aww. I know what you mean, and completely agree with enc's comment.

  4. Aw I didn't want to make you sad! I think that karma, whilst I'm not sure I believe in it actually working, is a great concept which we out to utilise..

  5. Wasn't it Kurt Vonnegut Jnr who wrote the phrase "Nice, nice, very nice" in Cat's Cradle - noboby said he shouldn't use the word.

    If everyone was a little bit nicer all the time, the world would be a more pleasant place all of the time!