The next Rule of Engagement for the Girls Can’t WHAT? Revolution is to “Be Nice”. I know it sounds simple and a little redundant considering that we just covered “Be Respectful,” but being nice and being respectful are two very different things. You can be nice and not be respectful and you can also be respectful and not be nice.
Here is another fine example from my rebellious youth. In the 6th grade I had a teacher who was a real oddball. To respect his privacy, I will call him Mr. M and it is also noteworthy to say that he was the grade school principal at the time of my kindergarten incident mentioned in “Issues With Authority, Part 1“. Now here I was in the 6th grade having to face him as my language arts teacher every single day.
Mr. M had some very peculiar gestures. They are difficult to describe, but they were basically a smirky grin and a nervous head shaking. In fact, my peers labeled him “Wobble” because when he was really angry (which was most of the time) he would suck his lips in and wobble his head. If someone said “I’m going to Wobble’s class”, we all knew he meant Mr. M’s room. I am also thinking that whoever invented Bobblehead dolls may have also been a student of Mr. M.
Mr. M also had a lot of nifty little catch phrases. He had one favorite that he typically used when he got upset with our unruly behavior and know-it-all commentary. Whenever we pushed him too far (which was pretty much every day) he would start to turn red and then utter the four most memorable words of my grade school career: “Cut the smart crap!” This was always followed by the lip sucking, the head wobble and a long hard stare at the perpetrator of the disruption. The entire student body knew what “cut the smart crap” meant and everyone repeated those words behind his back, along with the lip and head gestures. I think “cut the smart crap” is even scrawled in a speech bubble above his photo in my yearbook.
By my 6th grade year, I had begun to come out of my introverted shell a little more and just in time for the greatest assignment ever. Mr. M decided we needed to hone our presentation skills so we were mandated to create a product and a write a commercial for it. Now that’s my kind of homework!
I won’t lie – I put a lot of time and effort into this. In fact, I spent quite a few days just brainstorming product ideas. Then suddenly, I had a stroke of genius. Ideas like this come once in a lifetime and I was quite proud of it. I spent the better part of the following week creating the prototype and writing my ad copy. I told no one about my product. No one.
On presentation day, I carefully tucked my prototype into a large plastic garbage bag and tried to slip into school as inconspicuously as possible. I was able to stuff the over sized package into my locker where it would wait until it’s triumphant unveiling.
As luck would have it, I was the last one called upon that day to give my marketing presentation. I proudly made my way to the front of the class with my product still wrapped in the garbage bag. I made a few introductory remarks and then slowly lifted the plastic bag. There were some giggles and nervous laughter from my peers, but I confidently went on with my speech. My brilliant product was a new brand of completely odorless cat litter. The prototype was made from a large paper sack and I had cut out the black cat logo from a Tidy Cat bag and pasted it on the front. The bag was stuffed full of newspaper to hold it’s shape and pasted neatly across the front of the bag in big, black stenciled letters were the words “Smart Crap Cat Litter”.
Now every good marketing campaign has a catch phrase. You know – a memorable jingle or buzz phrase that helps consumers remember the product or brand name. So naturally I had to come up with one for my cat litter. I continued on with my presentation, describing the many features and benefits of my product until I came to the closing lines which went something like this: “so make the switch to a better brand of cat litter today and cut odors with smart crap!” And if that wasn’t enough, I followed it up with the lip sucking and a head wobble. Oh yeah. I did it. The class erupted in laughter while Mr. M sat hunched over his desk scribbling furiously on my evaluation. He was just about to speak (and I think he might have even been turning pink) when the bell rang and we all sprang for the door. I never heard a word about it from Mr. M, and I was the coolest kid in 6th grade for the next two weeks. I thought I had gotten away with my little stand up comedy routine. Little did I know it would be back to haunt me.
Let’s face it. Making fun of people is just not nice. Why did I do it? I don’t really know. Perhaps it was just some pent up revenge from kindergarten that finally came out. While mocking my teacher may have scored me cool points with my peers, it didn’t score me any points with Mr. M, although I got a passing grade. In fact, I got an “A”. Being mean to someone is like burning a bridge. You never know when you might need to go back across it. You see, Mr. M never did confront me about my “Smart Crap” presentation. At first I thought he didn’t understand the joke, but later – much later – I realized he got it. And I would pay for it.
I was in love with basketball in the sixth grade. So much so, that I tried out for and made the boys team because we didn’t have a girls team. I enjoyed every second of it. Fast forward to the seventh grade. Basketball season. I showed up for the first day of tryouts in my favorite Converse hi-tops and took my place on the bench with the other girls. I was having my usual fun, cutting up and goofing off when out walks the coach. It was none other than – you guessed it – Mr. M.
Let’s just end by saying my seventh grade basketball season was pretty miserable and I knew why. Any input or suggestions I had for the team were immediately shot down. And I’m pretty sure I ran a lot of unnecessary “extra laps” around the gym and spent more than my fair share of time warming the bench. Not being nice cost me. Not only had I burned the bridge, but I was up the creek without a paddle.
So the moral of the story here is to be nice. Not being nice can come back to torment you in so many ways and frankly, who needs the additional stress? Here is the guidebook entry:
“It pays to be nice. Whether you respect the person or not, being courteous is incredibly important. Being nice is a tactical move. It is much harder for a person to argue with you when you are nice. Being nice puts your opponent at ease and leaves them more open and receptive to your point of view. A pleasant disposition can also be contagious, making it a powerful tool for a Revolution. Failure to be nice will eventually come back to bite you.”
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