The story of Mr Grumpy 19



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Every day, he was subjected to rude and arrogant behaviour of the news-stand proprietor…. but it was how he responded that amazed everyone around him …

I read a delightful story about a grumpy news-stand proprietor and how one of his regular customers could ‘turn the other cheek’.

Who knows what was going on for the news-stand proprietor, but he was always grumpy. Forget about the idea of nurturing clients and making them feel happy that you served them!

Every morning in the hurly burly of peak hour, a steady stream of customers would purchase their morning paper from ‘Mr Grumpy’.

With never a smile crossing his face, let alone the politeness we would like to expect from the salesman, most of his customers bought their morning paper without bothering to engage with him.

‘He is simply not worth the effort’, was the view of the vast majority.

However, the location of his newsstand was convenient for the steady stream of city workers as they made their way from the train station and through the myriad of city buildings to their offices.

In deference to their better judgment, most simply put up with the poor service experience since they valued the convenience.

All except for one man named Jim.

Jim always greeted ‘Mr Grumpy’ with a cheery and respectful disposition, thanking him for his paper, and wishing him ‘a nice day’.

In spite of Jim’s efforts, this seemed to have no impact on ‘Mr Grumpy’, who continued with his rude, sullen and grumpy behaviour to all of his customers, including Jim.

Fascinated by this consistent display of politeness being met with rudeness, Bill, another regular customer marvelled at Jim’s unwavering cheeriness in this most unusual pattern of human interaction.

One day Bill said to Jim: “I don’t understand. Every day ‘Mr Grumpy’ is so rude. He treats you and everyone else with absolute disdain. And yet you are always bright, cheery and polite to him! How do you do it – and more to the point Why?”

Jim turned to Bill and smiled. He said “You know Bill, I am not sure what is going on in ‘Mr Grumpy’s’ world, but what I do know is that I am in charge of how I feel”.

“I choose to be happy, and I am not about to let someone else’s bad mood change that. Just because he is not happy doesn’t mean that I need to feel the same.”

Jim had it nailed.

We are all responsible for these choices, and whilst there will be events and concerns that will make us sad, concerned or worried at times in our life, allowing other people’s moods to impact us is a waste and misuse of our emotional energy.

The key is to be mindful of the behaviour of others, notice it but don’t own it or live it.

‘We can choose how we think – let’s make it positive’.


Tell us, have you ever done something like this? Do you have the same attitude as this man? 

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Merryn Snare

Merryn Snare has enjoyed a rewarding career as a registered psychologist, registered primary and special education teacher, dance therapist, bereavement and trauma counsellor, executive coach, author, world traveller, and mother. Merryn is also the international Author of “Annihilate Stress and Anxiety – 21 Proven Strategies for a Balanced Life”.

  1. No, while I wouldn’t let it affect my day, I certainly wouldn’t make a doormat of myself either. No Mrs Nice Guy from me if it’s obvious the other person can’t be assed (for whatever reason) to be polite. What is it they say, The Definition of Madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

  2. This story reminds me of a suggestion I heard once which I’ve never forgotten: “don’t let someone else determine how I react”. Just because someone else is grumpy or rude, doesn’t mean I have to be too. I always feel better in myself if I behave politely & with a smile on my face as well!

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