Covid-19 has even impacted common courtesy. Yesterday, as I was leaving my voting precinct, I held the door for a woman who was about to enter. She stopped short, as it was impossible to keep six feet apart. She finally motioned for me to move on, so the door closed and I took a wide detour around her. I felt awkward and sad that courtesy has also suffered during these strange times.
But as I reflected on the changes, I thought of a time in the past when my offer to hold a door was not accepted, but for an entirely different reason. The time was about 1969 (yes, I am old), and I was visiting Mobile, Alabama. As I was entering a department store, an elderly black woman was coming from the opposite direction, so I held the door. She said, “Oh honey, please don’t do that. You will get me into trouble”. This was my first introduction to understanding discrimination, a lesson learned through an attempt at courtesy. My commitment…Be more aware, empathetic, and observant.
Also, now that I have retired and time is not at such a hectic pace, I realize that in driving I often sped up to keep someone from cutting in front of me. And what did that get me…I arrived at the next stop light one second ahead of the other car. My commitment…Be more courteous as I drive.
Some form of courtesy that was made aware to me as a child, was the importance of calling people by name. I have three sisters, so the four of us were always referred to as “The Sheward Girls.” People rarely called us by name, as they probably couldn’t remember who was who. It became important to me to address others by name, especially children. These days it might take longer for me to recall a name, but my commitment…do my best.
The local Sonic had a wonderful young lady who worked the drive-through window. She always said “Good Morning” and then “Have a great day”. This is not all that unusual except she said it as though she meant it. She made a difference in my day with only a few well-spoken words. My commitment…no automatic responses, but honest, meaningful statements.
And, have you ever been to Chick-fil-A? The employees often say “My Pleasure”. This obviously is something the company teaches and stresses. Recently, I was in a store and after I said thank you, the young employee responded with “My pleasure”. I did not ask, but my guess was that he had previously worked at Chick-fil-A. The important aspect of the encounter was that his response appeared to be heart-felt. My commitment…remain mindful of the manners I have been taught.
So much of courtesy is an interconnection of the words and lessons we have learned from Living52. Let us all be kinder, more loving, more gracious by being courteous.
Another reminder: It is courteous to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash hands. Thank you for reading my meanderings and blessings to each of you.
Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. --Henry Clay
Written by Ann M. Way, former Senior Program Officer and Interim Director of Sarkeys Foundation and Executive Director of Mary Abbott Children’s House which provides forensic interviews of physically and sexually abused children. Her greatest joys in life are her children, Tonya and Michael; her son-in-law and daughter-in-law, David and Laurie, and her grandchildren, Braden, Ethan, Andrew, Alex, Kate, and her grandson, Taylor, who resides in Heaven.