20 Something Career Expert’s Tip of the Month – January

Don’t Be a Tailgater

When I lived in the east, I thought tailgating was a Big Apple thing. After all, that gelled with everything I’d ever heard about New Yorkers. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Chicago and discovered that tailgating is just as bad here.

There are the traditional tailgaters – those in cars who risk ramming right into you should you come to a sudden (or even just regular) stop, because they can’t bear you traveling at the actual speed limit. And then there are the non-traditional tailgaters – people walking in back of you on the street who follow so closely on your heels that you are afraid they’re going to physically accost you at any second.

I’ll admit that I’m not the most laid-back individual in the world, but what is it with people who are so desperate to get where they’re going that they can’t maintain a respectable social distance? It’s aggressive and annoying, and does it really allow them to be more efficient at their lives and jobs? Are they really hurrying me along so that they can achieve world domination?

This brings to mind a larger point, and that’s how you are perceived by strangers. I suppose that maybe my tailgaters are taking their frustrations and impatience out on me because there are no consequences. They don’t know me, so what does it matter if I think they are rude? There are a few problems with this attitude that go beyond bad karma, though. First, you never know who’s watching. Let’s say, for example, that you’re being snotty to your waitress because you’re having a bad day, and the person seated at the next table listening to your diatribe is actually an important client?

Second, if you behave undesirably toward people you run into in your everyday life, what’s to stop you from developing a habit that extends into your work and home lives? It’s like when I told my husband that he wouldn’t be able to stop cursing cold turkey once our son was old enough to understand. I asked him to practice speaking without cursing now so by the time Jonah turned one, my husband would have the problem under control.

This year, why not make a resolution to be patient and kind to all individuals who share the planet with you? Making an effort to spread positive energy will help ensure that it comes back your way.

~ Alexandra Levit, 20 Something Career Expert, Campus Calm

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