Persons of the Dialogue
Pirate smiled. "Oh, I have almost always found it to be in my interest to be polite."
"As you've almost always found it to be in your interest to be charming?" asked Director.
"Charm is just politeness that you don't really mean," said Student.
"How," asked Pirate, "can you mean politeness or not? One is polite or not, that's all."
"Yes, but one is polite for one of two reasons - out of self-interest, or as a rule."
"I say it's in one's interest to make politeness a rule," said Pirate with a grin.
"But there are times when it is not in your interest to be polite, so if it's a rule it is not always in your self-interest."
"Every rule has its exceptions."
"So what are the exceptions, Pirate?" asked Director.
"One is when someone is being terribly rude to you. You may be less than polite, as long as you are alone with this person, or with no more than one or two very good friends as well. It doesn't do to be known widely to ever be less than polite."
"But word gets around," said Student.
"But under those circumstances, alone or with very few," said Director, "can't you be rude to someone who is not being rude to you, someone who, in fact, is being more than polite?"
"What do you mean by 'more than polite'?" asked Student.
"Someone who is following a rule of being polite, against his self-interest."
Nick Pappas, pappasnick.typepad.com