In our first example from ‘Street Stoicism’ (published in Poland as Stoicyzm Uliczny), Marcin Fabjanski applies Stoic philosophy to responding to rudeness. In this particular case, he uses the example of a rude shop assistant….
“Step aside will you, you’re blocking the queue!”. The shop assistant at the grocery store has no mercy on my attempts to unstick the plastic bag so that I can open it. Opening those bags has been my nightmare for years.
“Not everybody has such long nails, young lady, painted red during working hours…”. I bite my tongue right before saying it out loud.
Nonetheless, the situation develops as usual – badly. The people standing behind me in the queue immediately catch the shop assistant’s words. I can hear some ahems behind my back and then, obviously, a reproachful remark of another guy in the queue: ‘well this man doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry!’
This kind of behavior will not affect the speed of my packing the groceries in a positive way. Now I will unstick my bag slowly and ineffectively. Flauntingly slowly. All of you will stand in this queue for a while!
THE STOIC MAXIM
‘If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?’
Epictetus (trans. Elizabeth Carter)