It's sad that we need to have this reminder, because it should be first nature, not second nature: when, in times of crisis, be nice.

In normal times, be nice. In times of emergency, be nice. Be firm (if you must), be clear, but be nice.

Shannon was at a pharmacy today to pick up a thermometer for a friend. She overheard the conversation between the cashier and the gentleman in line ahead of her. It went something like this:

Cashier: Do you have a mega-big pharmacy chain member's card, sir?

Gentleman: Yes, I do.

C:  Enter your phone number on the keypad, please.

G:  (In a very rude, I-can't-believe-your're-asking-me-to-do-that tone) I'm not doing that!

C: Sir, I will need you to enter your phone number to receive your discount.

G: I'm not touching that thing (again, rude).

C: What is your phone number, I'll punch it in on my screen.

The gentleman proceeds to give his number to the cashier, and after she tells him the total, he proceeds to pay her. In cash. Dirty, filthy cash. And receives his change. In cash.

After he leaves the store, Shannon approaches the cashier with her purchase and, in true Shannon fashion, flashes a smile and says "I hope people are treating you well". That brought a smile of appreciation to the cashier's face as she says, "they aren't all like that last guy. Most people are being polite."

The point of my story is this: it's very easy to lose patience when things are uncertain. It's easy to forget manners when we are so concerned with ourselves. It's easy to forget that the person on the other side of your conversation is going through the very same thing you are going through. Just put yourself in their shoes. How would you want to be treated?

Practice being nice to people. It's easy to do. I'll practice with you. Are you ready? Here we go:  Imagine that the person on the other side of the conversation is your daughter or your son. Imagine that they are a person with kids that they are concerned about. Imagine that the other person is on the other side of the sales counter because she's living paycheck-to-paycheck and has to expose him or herself to a constant stream of people all day long or else she'll not be able to pay her rent. Imagine that he, or she, is risking their health just to keep their home or car because, in many situations, they are doing just that.

Be nice.