Every now and then I feel like I have to leave my apartment and go somewhere else for a change of scenery. I then usually pack all the things I am working on – except for the laptop, I like to work offline then – and go to my favourite cafe downtown.

chocolate cakesToday was such a day, and I arrived at my cafe at around 3 pm, as usual. By now the staff know me; I get my hot chocolate in a porcelain cup instead a paper one, and I can always sit upstairs even if it is not that busy and the stairs are roped off. Usually I have a hot chocolate in the beginning, then I sit upstairs on my favourite spot to write and think for about two hours. When I’m tired of that, I get downstairs again to order a small ice-cream – I make a point to try all their flavours – and once that is finished too, I make my way home again.

So, when I was ready to wrap things up today, and went down for my ice-cream, there was this American woman standing at the counter trying to order coffee and to make a choice from all the sweets on display. I had not even laid eyes on her when I felt an intense dislike.

Not so much for what she said “Oh no, that’s not got enough ice-cream on it, I want two scoops”, but for how she said it – she was plain rude to the staff. She was one of those people with the attitude: “I’m an American, look what we’ve done for the planet so you owe me. I won’t bother to even try speaking your language, and if you can’t understand mine, I’ll just say the same stuff over and over again, just a bit louder each time.”

Not all Americans are like this, I hasten to add, I have met plenty of very nice Americans, and a large amount of obnoxious people from practically everywhere, including Austria. But every time I encounter somebody like this, I wonder what they are believing to achieve with being rude like this. Even if people don’t understand your words, the tone of your voice and your body language will make a difference in how they treat you in return. It even puts me off helping such rude people because I really see no point in enabling them.

What is so difficult about being nice?