Politely rude or rudely polite?
After a fortnight's holiday with my family in my home town it was time to leave for the neighbouring state where I worked. The train reservation had been obtained, and so the 12-hour journey wasn't likely to be tedious. Besides, the train was to depart at 7pm; so, I could very well go to sleep after my meals; and when I woke I would have reached my destination! It was going to be an unexciting train journey!
I located my coach and the berth; pushed my only bag, which was slightly heavy, under the seat and made myself comfortable. My companions in the coach consisted of a family who had already spread the food they had brought along with them and were busy eating; there was a man occupying the berth atop mine who had gone to sleep as soon as he had entered the coach; the berth opposite mine was occupied by two men, obviously long-lost friends, who were chatting away incessantly, and the berth atop theirs was occupied by an elderly person who was lost in a newspaper.
Since all the berths were occupied, I surmised that one of the two long-lost friends did not belong here but had a seat or berth somewhere else in the coach. the two friends must have have met by a quirk of fate at the station or, perhaps, they had booked their tickets together but had been unable to obtain two neighbouring berths; they were therefore spending as much time as possible together and one of them would shortly leave to occupy his allotted berth.
I had a light meal and lay down. The two friends continued to chat away; it was nice to see the wonderful friendship that existed between them. The unending conversation, however, was slightly annoying to other ears.
One of the friends then looked at me and smiled in a congenial manner. I returned the smile.
He exchanged some pleasantries with me, and I thought he was the most polite person I had ever come across!
"Sir," he said in the most affable manner, "will you please exchange berths with me? You see, it would be nice if my friend and I remain together for the journey. My berth is only a little further down and it will not be much trouble for you to shift."
The request was made so courteously that I would have sprung to my feet at once and complied. But I am a lazy person; the thought of pulling out my bag and dragging it to the other end of the coach did not appeal to me.
"Sir," I said, "it is already 8.30pm; in a short while from now, you will anyway go to sleep. So, why don't you spend all the time you want conversing with your friend and then go to your own berth to sleep. Why do you need to exchange berths?"
There was an abrupt transformation in the man's face. His face clouded at not having his own way. He could find no merit in my logic. "All right, all right, you don't have to tell me what I am to do," he said in the most gruff manner and then went on to mutter something under his breath. I thought he was the most rude person I had ever come across!
The man continued to throw dirty looks at me all the time; I turned my back to him and went to sleep.