There was once a church that decided to bring their absentee members back into the fold. The preacher went to see one member for that purpose. His visit took him so far out in the country that you’d have to walk five miles back toward town just to start picking up firewood.

When he finally located the rundown house and property, he was greeted by a crusty, old graybeard. The coffee was good, however, and the conversation easy.

Finally, the preacher got to the point of the visit and heated up the rebuke to the point that the man had a change of heart and returned to church. He then wanted to work.

He was given some church stationary and told to write to those on a list, in an effort to get them to return just as he’d done. After a few weeks the church received a check and a note from one on the list. He said that he was making up his contributions and that he would be in his rightful place the following Sunday. He then added, “Please notify your church secretary that there is only one “l” in “filthy” and no “c” in “skunk.”

It’s a case where you admire a person’s enthusiasm, but question his wisdom. But, he did the best he knew how.

What about the rest of us? I have specific reference to how rude we can be, even when there is no need to be. When it’s as easy or easier to be polite.

All of this brings to mind something I’ve experienced since was launched some time ago. Since that time I’ve gathered e-mail addresses of various contacts (as well as those who contacted me) and added them to a growing list to receive a weekly Barber-osophy column. Most seem to appreciate it. The few who don’t, however, never take the nice approach. Instead of simply clicking on the unsubscribe option they send rude messages.

Without taking it personally, I nonetheless have done some analysis of the reasons for such an approach. Granted, part of the problem is simply a reaction to “spamming.” They are unable to distinguish between that and legitimate use of the Internet. Aside from that, however, I think the cause for the rudeness might be the same as for rudeness to which we are all susceptible on other occasions.

It might be a simple case of the cat-kicking-syndrome. This is where a person is upset over something totally unrelated to the family cat. It might involve an incident with a co-worker, the boss, a customer or someone in traffic. Regardless, the person is looking for someone to kick. The family cat better not be in the person’s path when he/she walks in the door.

Our reactions to people and circumstances are often that way. Instead of dealing with the person or situation directly, we tend to kick someone who is totally innocent. The person who takes the “hit” is often oblivious to what precipitated it, and takes the attack personally. The aggressor, on the other hand, knows better and under normal circumstances conducts himself/herself with more class.

The lesson here is twofold: (1) On those days when things go badly, beware of cat kicking conduct. (2) If you happen to be the “cat of the day,” don’t take it personally.

BARBER-OSOPHY: Problems only increase with cat kicking.

Copyright 2004, Sumerlin Enterprises.

Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "Barber-osophy," is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal and speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker.

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Author's Bio: 

Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "Barber-osophy," is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal and speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker.