I just returned from a much needed spring break get-away, and in addition to spending time relaxing, I did a ton of “people watching.” More specifically, I did a ton of “people listening” while my eyes were closed and I was tanning on a beach, or while I was at a restaurant waiting for dinner/lunch/cocktails and over-hearing conversations from everyone within ear-shot. And frankly, I am surprised at how uncivilized our society has become. And how infrequent the use of the words “please” and “thank you” have become.
At first I made excuses for the short-tempered vacationers as they demanded towels and umbrellas without so much as a polite smile. And I even gave credit to the sleep-deprived parents when their meals came late (and wrong) at the table next to me and they were a bit crass to the serving staff, saying that IF they weren’t so tired, they would act with more kindness. But then after day three, I couldn’t make any more excuses for anyone. It’s simply wrong to not have manners. It’s my opinion that if we all lived a bit more gratefully, our society would be a changed landscape. Instead of thinking of only ourselves, we should in every moment, give the benefit of doubt because we are all human and thus all prone to error and mistake from time to time. As my father used to say, “we all put on our pants one leg at a time.”
Simply put, Emily Post created etiquette guidelines that are based on the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or put another way: Treat others as you would want to be treated. I know that I was uncomfortable in all of those instances I referred to above, so I have to believe that the harshness of the travelers inflicted on the serving staff wasn’t how they’d like to be treated. And frankly, it doesn’t matter who is paying whom. With every refill of water, and every door that is opened for you, a polite and sincere “thank you” is in order. Not because the words are expected, but because you should be grateful that someone did something nice.
So now that I’m home I have a mission: to reclaim the importance of those magic words: Please and Thank You. I encourage you to help me in my pursuit. Find a way to offer thanks 3 times a day, and see what happens next. Oprah once said, ” Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” So true. So true.