Does Being Rude Get You Further in Life?

Can you get your way by being crabby?
Can you get your way by being crabby?

A couple of weeks ago, we had a patient that really got under my skin. At first I racked my brain to try and understand how I must have failed her. In the end, I know that my staff and I did the absolute best that we could, but this patient still went on the war path. I didn’t realize what her motivation might have been at the time, but it really started my thought process toward wondering if rude people get more breaks. Does being mean and nasty get you further in life?

This particular lady has had some unfortunate eye health issues over the past year. As a result, she is not capable of clear, 20/20 vision. She is not blind. She still sees well enough to drive and does better than many people her age, visually and physically. However, I knew from her past history that she would not be happy with what we were able to do with her vision. This lady has been a holy terror for many years, so much so that our optical staff will not make glasses for her. Every pair she has ever gotten from our office caused much yelling and rudeness on her part until it was either remade in the very same way or a refund was given to make her happy. In 12 years, I can count maybe 2 or 3 people that we’ve had to fire, meaning we won’t sell them anything, so it’s a real sort of honor if you get on the list.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I continued to see her as a patient. She used to be very rude to me, but I always tried to be nice. One day, I guess she was having a tough time and she let it slip that she was raising her great grandchildren. Her children lived out of state, and her grandchildren were in jail for drug possession. She was unable to control the great grandkids, and as middle schoolers, they were out roaming the streets at all hours of the night. At that point, I decided to cut her some slack. No almost 80 year old should have to be dealing with that, and she began to really like me. In fact, she came in every couple of months for some reason or another. I honestly think she just liked the company.

Well my favor must have worn off with her latest pair of glasses. Even though I told her repeatedly that she would not have 20/20 vision, she wanted to go ahead with a new pair. She gets them at WalMart because she has burned bridges with the other opticals in town. When she got the new pair, she was not happy, and called my office to curse at the receptionist, who was very dignified and eventually offered to send her records to anywhere else she wanted to go. We thought that was the end of it until she showed up at our office, caused a big scene,  and demanded to speak with our optician. He refused to see her and she wouldn’t leave. I had to go out and tell her we were unable to help her any further. I’m sure if she yells loud and long enough she will get her money back on these glasses as well.

What is the point of this story? I believe there are many people who feel like they have no control over their circumstances. Instead of looking for a positive like I’m alive, I’m healthy, I have food and shelter, all they see is how someone wronged them. They can’t change the people or events in their lives that are in turmoil. Instead, they yell and cause scenes in places where they can, usually toward the poor clerk or receptionist who is brave enough to ask “How may I help you?” I think they often get their way and it creates a rush, kind of like an addict when he or she first accesses their vice.

What happens with an unhappy customer? The employees try to calm them down. The manager might come out. Before you know it the person has a free meal or discount on something, mainly just to shut them up. It isn’t good for business to have a screaming, cursing customer in view for all to see, so we do whatever is necessary to control collateral damage.

Maybe in a sense, rude people tend to get more breaks and freebies. I have no problem with questioning something you don’t understand or even asking for a discount, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Yelling at entry level employees is just being mean. Maybe we shouldn’t cater to rudeness. Perhaps, we should just ask mean people to leave or escort them out. Are we reinforcing bad behavior by giving rude people what they want?

Ultimately, I choose to be positive and treat people as I would want to be treated. I feel for those with unfortunate circumstances, but that is never an  excuse to be mean. The amount of energy it takes to maintain that sort of personality must be toxic. While it might get you a refund or free item along the line, I don’t think the cost of being eternally rude is worth the effort.

Have you ever seen rude people get a break? Have you been the victim of rudeness and how did you handle it?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


    1. It’s kind of like a fight or flight instinct. Usually we choose flight to get them away so as not to disturb our normal customers. Usually the normal ones comment on how rude that person is, though. I don’t ever want someone’s rudeness to ruin the experience for a good customer. It think that’s why we cater to the rude ones to shut them up.

  1. I try really hard not to be rude or upset with customer service agents, but when you have to say to the new person on the phone that you’ve been transferred to, “I’m sorry but you are now the fifth person I’m having to explain this to, and it’s becoming quite frustrating, so I’m hoping you can resolve this as soon as possible …” before even starting to talk about the problem, well something is broken in a lot of customer service systems, too. Didn’t mean yours – but the ones that seem to force people into upsetting situations by making you give up on getting the problem resolved.

    1. Phone menus are the worst for causing upsets. I had to spend about an hour on the phone with our internet provider the other day. Each time I was transferred, I had to give my name, address, account number, and last four digits. That does get old really quickly.

  2. Whether they get a break or not, I still think karma will come and bite them in the ass. They may have have won that battle, but not the war. I feel sorry for people like that because they are in such pain emotionally that they are just mean and awful, but that’s still no excuse for how they treat people. They usually have the victim mentality, and I just don’t have time for that.

  3. Honestly, rude people do seem to get what they want, especially when it comes to retailers. I think one thing is that businesses don’t want to cause a scene so they try to handle the person quickly and effectively.

    At Target one time I saw someone get escorted out by security for harassing the pharmacist (who is the sweetest girl…I felt bad for her). Something about price of drugs, as if the pharmacist has any say in that.

  4. I have seen many rude people get what they want. People used to do this with my ecommerce business. I would bend over backwards for them. I know that I will employee the rude attitude, but only when it is justified. I do get what I am after, but I have to be an ass to get it.

    1. That does really suck when you go above and beyond and all you get is rude back. I’ve had people yell about something then call me on the weekend when they have an emergency. I certainly don’t go out of my way to help at that point.

  5. In my former job I saw this all the time. Someone would come in rude, for no apparent reason, and would usually get what they wanted. The squeaky wheel does get the grease, but it does not have to me that way. If I am in a situation where I am trying to help someone they’re going to get much more from me if they’re decent. I’ll do all I can for them, especially if I can put myself in their shoes. But, if they’re rude, then they’re not getting that benefit…life is just too short to go through life rude.

    1. Life is too short. It takes way more energy to be rude. I’m tired enough at the end of the day without adding more energy to be unpleasant.

  6. If I have someone being rude to me II call them on it and tell them to calm down and act appropriately if they want to get things done. If they continue being a pain I go out of my way to be difficult. I know it’s childish, but there is just no excuse for it.

    1. Dealing with rude people is lots like dealing with five year olds. They are not reasonable, but at least the five year old can take a nap and develop a whole new perspective.

  7. I hate to say it, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I notice the same thing at my work. The customers who are a PITA get top notch treatment because no one wants to hear about it otherwise. Since I believe in Karma, I choose not to go that route. I try to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  8. I don’t know whether rude people are any happier, but they do get farther ahead in life. But only in the little things. They may get freebie here and there. But if you’re attitude is such that it drives people away, they could lose out on lots of other opportunities.

  9. I HATE the negative energy like this that some people bring. They are like a dark cloud and make everyone miserable and feel worse. I simply remove them from my life – no matter what that takes!

    1. I don’t enjoy the dark cloud people. I am not always able to cut them out completely. I can only hope my positive attitude can overpower them.

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