The idea for this post came to me while “chatting” to Robert Rath’s friends on his Facebook page a few weeks ago; about the annoying people who put their seats all the way back on a plane.

You know the type. As soon as the seatbelt sign pings off, they got their seat back as far as it will go with nary a glance to see if they are in anyone’s way. I really hate this. Given my height, I often end up smelling their hair product, counting their dandruff, or watching their little pet lice play… Having someone’s head in my face also means I cannot actually use my laptop or in one case, eat my meal. (Of course, a good bout of sneezing can sometimes encourage them to pull their pate a tad further away.)

Many years ago, on a flight from Sydney to somewhere, I had a child in front of me. After the meal service, her father decided she should put the seat down. She actually looked behind her first, and when she realised I was using my laptop, she only put her seat down partially. In was an amazingly considerate gesture for a very young child.

But of course, dad was a tool. When he realised his child’s seat was not all the way down, he did the usual thing of pushing it suddenly all the way without a glance. I nearly had my screen totalled!

I must confess I have learnt to be ungracious on the MRT in Singapore lately.

Normally, whenever I am in a crowded situation, I try to be very aware of what is around me. (Singapore is crowded most of the time.) I would look around to see if I am in anyone’s way, and wait for my turn to move. Unfortunately, not many people seem to do the same here in Singapore.

Should I stop just for a moment to look around, others will immediately push in front of me. People standing at train doorways also tend to be completely oblivious of others. I often have to push to get out. So now, I just (firmly, persistently and with many excuse mes) push my way to the train doors. Sad but true.

Many businesses start off being authentic, nice and trusting – because their owners are such. Let’s face it; most people are nice after all. After a few brushes with the bad apples out there, these businesses grow calluses. They learn to be less nice, more fearful, and less trusting. This is such a shame.

This could well be the source of the belief that the bastards always win; that you have to be ruthless to make it in business. Clearly, you need just enough rotten apples out there on the playing field to contaminate all the apples. We need just enough nasty people out there to train the rest of us into being less than who we could be.

I’d very much like to think that considerate little girl on the plane would grow up to retain her innate graciousness, despite the training by her father.

At the end of the day, I have resolved to remind myself that it is still up to us as individuals to decide how we want to behave. If we run a business, we decide how that business should behave.

In countries where less-than-ethical behaviour is often required to secure business deals, I have recently been told that it is still possible still to do the right thing and get business. That’s really good to hear.

I will try and be more authentic on the MRT; and not let the ungracious crowds get to me.