I’m generally not extremely rude, but as Sarah and many others would be happy to tell you, I’m not all about pleasantries. Basically I’ve never seen the point of certain kinds of small talk. To make things worse, I know almost nothing about sports and have thus disqualified myself from a large proportion of male small talk. Also, I’m not that interested in people being polite to me, most of the time. During my first few months in Utah — where people are fairly polite — I was actually a little freaked out.
Lately I’ve started to better see the value of being polite, through my kids. When the three year old says at breakfast “Dad may I have a glass of water please?” I’m usually happy to get up and get the water. On the other hand, if one of them calls out “THIRSTY!” (this actually happened one time and he’ll be lucky to live it down before leaving home) then not only do I fail to be filled with the desire to get him something to drink, but also visions of boarding school pop into my head. Military boarding school.
On my part, I try to be polite with the kids, for example when asking them to clear their places at the table. They do seem to appreciate being treated respectfully. Overall, given a group of people in close proximity who have to help each other out, life is nicer when people are at least moderately polite. Who knew?