By Caroline Clemmons
How often do you hear that phrase in public? Is it just me, or are people in general ruder now days? At the risk of sounding like the older lady curmudgeon I am, I believe they are less considerate of others. Some appear enraged or as if they’re entitled to whatever special treatment they want. Oh, there are plenty of nice, polite people out there. Sometimes it’s easier to remember the other kind.
For instance, today we went to lunch at a small restaurant with a tiny parking lot. Two cars were blocking the parks. That is, one was waiting as far to the right as she could without sideswiping a car. The other angled so she blocked all the available parks plus the narrow passage and refused to move. A car was waiting behind us, so we were trapped in a Stepford Wives’ stand off. We almost never use our car’s horn. We gave it a little toot, but nothing changed. A little longer toot gained us a dirty look, but no car movement. Leaning on the horn (for probably the first time since we’ve owned the vehicle) produced a fierce glare before she peeled off. As we walked toward the restaurant, one of our party asked the first woman, “What was her problem?” The woman gave a derisive laugh and said, “She recognized me and doesn’t like me. She didn’t want to let me park.” Hmm, why would someone old enough to drive choose to act like a child?
Which reminds me, when our youngest daughter taught second grade, one of the first things she had to teach the class were the magic words their parent should have taught them: please, thank you, excuse me, and may I. The words Mr. Rogers taught in his daily television show. I’m a devoted fan of Fred Rogers and what he did for a generation or more of children. There is strength in being kind—and it’s contagious.
Once when my daughter and I were walking into Macy’s, a young man held the door open for us after his party had entered. We each thanked him as we went approached. In a lovely Southern drawl, he nodded and said, “My pleasure.” That brightened our day and couldn’t have delayed him more than sixty seconds. I love the “pass it on” commercials in which one person does some trivial thing, like hold open a door for another, who is cheered and goes on to smile at someone who needs one, and so on.
Let’s all pass on kindness today and every day.