Don’t you absolutely just love the song about respect by Aretha Franklin? You know the one,“R-E-S-P-E-C-T…..Find out what it means to me.” I never thought about it before, but I guess it does mean different things to different people. To me it means being polite, mindful, thoughtful, considerate, and treating everyone with the human dignity they deserve.

A few weeks ago I met a woman for the first time. We were introduced online by a mutual acquaintance who assured us that we had a lot in common and would get along famously. She was wrong.

We met at a coffee shop, got a table, and exchanged a few pleasantries. Suddenly, she whipped out a notebook and said that she just got an idea and had to jot it down before she forgot it. No problem. I often do that myself.

She began to write. And write. I sipped my tea and waited. And waited. I checked my email. I checked my texts. I checked Facebook. I organized my thoughts. I organized my purse. I finished my tea. She continued to write. I ran out of ways to entertain myself.

Just as I was ready to get up and suggest we reschedule our meeting when she was less preoccupied, she slammed her notebook shut, and gave me an ingratiating smirk. No apology. “You understand,” she said. “And I’m sure you don’t mind.” Actually I didn’t understand and I certainly did mind, but I simply smiled politely. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. And respect.

She began our conversation with a political rant. Really? I sat silently while she raged. When she finished, I tried to change the subject and asked her about her practice. She began another tirade about her clients. It wasn’t pretty.

I sat there for an hour and twenty-five minutes, not speaking, just smiling until my face ached and my teeth hurt. Afterwards I sat in my car and shook off the negative energy that had engulfed me. Suddenly the immortal words of Aretha Franklin sprang into my mind. She certainly nailed it when she sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T…..Find out what it means to me.” And sock it to me.


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