The festive season can bring out the worst in people, but kindness costs nothing.

I was in the queue at the shop this week and the woman in front of me lost it with the cashier. It was about 4pm, tempers were frayed and the mercury was hovering somewhere between skin-scorching and hellish. But does this excuse the fact that she unleashed an expletive-laden tirade at the guy behind the counter when the card machine timed out? I haven’t heard such language in a very long time – and I work in a newsroom.

If there’s one thing that grates my carrot, it’s rudeness. What is it about the holiday season that brings out the worst in people? Okay, okay, I know… It’s the mad rush at the mall, when everybody and their brother is searching for the perfect gift and the lines for the ATMs curl around corners; it’s the no-more-space parking arcades; it’s your favourite beach filled with flabby tourists; it’s that annoying neighbour who has Jingle Bells on permanent repeat; it’s the sudden influx of relatives you manage to ignore during the other 11 months of the year.

But kindness costs nothing. And patience is a virtue. And the early shopper gets the worm.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Drifting Further Away by Powderfinger.


Janine Papendorf likes coffee, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. She’s married to a nerdy biker and they’re raising Cape Town’s cleverest child. When she’s not building Lego castles or watching old movies, Janine likes to send words into cyberspace. She’s a freelance writer and content strategist based in South Africa’s beautiful Mother City. Witness her obsession with pink flowers on Instagram, or contact her to collaborate on a project.


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