Ronda Rich

RUDENESS AND COURTESY

 

 

Sometimes, I have decided, rudeness works. Sometimes, it’s even called for.

I had to do a lot of thinking on this because I advocate kindness and courtesy.

But if someone is being abused publicly, I can see the need for rudeness to spare the victim.

When I experienced a home invasion several years ago, I was quite rude. There was no graciousness, and I did not offer them a cold drink as I always do to delivery drivers.

Instead, I used the full strength of my mountain-raising. I jumped out unexpectedly from another room as they reached for a box of costume jewelry. I used the rebel yell.

Have you heard of that? The Scotch-Irish, in the Southern Appalachians, first used it in the War of Independence, when they beat back the British and preserved the victories that George Washington’s troops had scored.

When Stonewall Jackson led his mostly Virginia Military School-trained cadets into early Civil War battles, they were aided mightily by mountain boys who used the ghastly screech, which terrified the enemy and often caused retreat. Jackson quickly learned to put those mountain boys in front to send forth the yell.

It became so legendary that author S.C. Gwynne even named his bestselling biography of Stonewall Jackson, Rebel Yell.

Later, I’ll tell a longer version, but the summary is this: There was no gun in this house. THEN. So, all I had was a 5’2” container of righteous anger and a rebel yell. It worked just fine and dandy.

All four were arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced on federal charges. When the county sheriff’s deputies and detectives asked how I managed such a heroic feat, I demonstrated the rebel yell. First, it scared them. Then, it tickled them.

“Would you be willing to do a video of that?” asked the lieutenant in charge of the investigation. “That could help us a lot in training.”

That’s a case where rudeness worked rather nicely.

But to be fair: extreme courtesy, pleading, hyperventilating, or even a tart, almost rude, “Ma’am. Ma’am! May I speak with your supervisor?” does not work with the phone company. It does not care if you use their cell service or DSL. And they know you have no choice with landlines. You’re stuck with an American monopoly.

Not long ago, a woman with the phone company “found some discounts” for me. She was very sweet, and I was embarrassingly joyous. Then, I didn’t get the discounts on the next bill. A woman claiming to be from the company’s president’s office (like I believe he cares) finally called and said there were no discounts and implied I was lying.

“Ma’am, I assure you that I wouldn’t have spent seven hours on this phone trying to get these discounts if I hadn’t been told that. I’d just sit outside and watch the grass grow.”

“Let me see if I can pull up that phone call.”

Of course, she couldn’t find the call. I laughed. “Trust me. I knew you wouldn’t.” When I said I’d write the FTC and FCC, she calmly replied, “Every complaint will come back to me, and nothing will change.”

I was certain I was being recorded, so I didn’t pull out the rebel yell.

Recently, Tink and I were in Nashville for a book event to honor our beloved Diane Ladd—a proud Mississippian—and her daughter, Laura Dern, hosted by Reese Witherspoon. Diane had seen to it that we had front-row seats, but when the gracious lady escorted us to our seats, a woman was in mine. She stared straight ahead and did not offer to move, so we went to the second row.

This bit of rudeness kept me from sitting next to pop star Sheryl Crowe. Which goes to show that for some people, rudeness works quite well.

I should get that woman to call the phone company for me.

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