Wednesday, January 18, 2017

thankful for polite folk

From the photo exhibit at Smithsonian Natural History Museum

I am thankful for polite folk. 
I'm not quite sure how so many people lost the desire to "be nice" but so many now grab what they want and believe the rest of the world should give it to them.

That's not how it works.

Research has shown people want respect. Sometimes in the workplace respect has more value than raises.

Polite behavior is like the oil in a sewing machine. The machine has these sturdy metal parts but won't run smoothly unless there is oil.

Recently I went out for a walk in my neighborhood. In order to walk a couple miles I must walk in the streets as there are only a couple sidewalks. It's a neighborhood with a posted 25 mph speed limit for cars.

I will go so far as to say MANY residents ignore that, speeding past at 45 to 50 mph and within 3 feet of me. It is terrifying and disrespectful. I've seen cars veer into my path to avoid a pot hole or another car when the polite ( and lawful) thing to do would be to slow down or wait for a safe moment to pass.

I've heard from others who walk that they are angry at this behavior.
Anger is an easy reaction to go to when disrespected. It also harms the disrespected person more than the offender. Anger can ruin a day, and left unchecked can ruin a life.

What can we do to increase kindness and understanding? 

We can be polite when it's easier to be demanding.

The world owes us nothing, but we owe the world everything.

However hard you work for what you have, you still need clean air and water, and other people.
We work together in societies because it's better for all.
We take care of each other because it's better for all.

Recently I encountered two polite people and it renewed me, healed me a little. 
It was spiritual balm.  

After yet another truck pushed me to the side of the road while I was out walking, I heard,
"Miss! Miss??" I turned expecting to have the driver shake his fist at me as has happened many times.

Instead the driver said, "you dropped your glove!"

Oh. I expected more incivility and was surprised with kindness.
 I would have desperately missed than new wool mitt.  I felt gratitude and happiness at this interaction. You can believe I let that sink in and learned from him. Not to just tell a person about a dropped glove, but to take the merest 'blink-of-an-eye'  moment to reach out with kindness to a person who expects less.

It changes us.

The driver knew in his heart he could have driven by without a glance but he chose kindness.
That is the kind of thing that increases self esteem too.
A person may "get away" with ugly behavior but somewhere in their heart they know they didn't choose well, and decent folk feel guilty about it.

Another encounter was at a bead shop. I was looking hard at a wall of beads wondering what would work in a current project. Another shopper came in and came to the same wall. She said " excuse me!" when I glanced up at her. She stepped back not to invade my space.

I often encounter shoppers who shove me out of their way, while they talk on their phones and step in front of me to look at something. In fact it happens so frequently I have come to expect it. It leaves me angry as if they are more important than I am, as if their desires trump mine.
As if I don't matter, indeed to them I do not.
Another image from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum exhibit

 Each person deserves respect and I am saying the world will be more content if we respect each other.

This has been weighing heavily on my heart, and I feel I must express it...

It is not acceptable for anyone to deride citizens, especially our leaders speaking disrespectfully.
 It is not understandable nor acceptable nor an American value to denigrate groups of people.

We would not allow children to say derogatory things out loud, that are being said by some elected officials. If a person speaks for America, I expect them to represent all of it's citizens with restraint and respect. We deserve that. We should expect no less from them than we would a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbor.

Apparently owning all the merchandise in the world, having all the money available, getting your way at the expense of someone else, is not making people happy. I see very few truly happy people.

It is my idea that respecting each other, being polite, will increase happiness. Note I have tried to express myself in a polite way here. 

Tell me of a time when someone changed your day by being polite, please. 
Thank you.


  1. i hear you sister! So in my grocery store ,i often let the folks behind me "go ahead" as am loading up the conveyor belt if the are balancing a sandwich and a drink. They say thank you. Some say it again as they leave the check out lane!. Some say "oh that's okay" and wait their turn and some even chat and two kindness make for a great day!

  2. A simple hello or good morning greeting with a smile as I meet a stranger as we pass each other walking does it for me. A lot of the time I am the first to greet but 90% of the time I get a genuine smile and a good morning back. This happens daily and makes my day brighter.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree. It should not shock us when someone is polite and uses manners but it does because it happens so seldom. I am always appreciative of someone saying excuse me when they shopping in a close area and I always do the same. A couple of months ago my mom & I were in line at McD's. We ordered & pulled up to the window to pay. We were told by the cashier that our meal had been paid for by the car in front of us. We were so surprised & it made our day. The person that paid didn't know us. She was just showing kindness to someone else. Thanks for reminding us that there are still people out being kind & considerate. I enjoyed your post. Thanks.

  4. My friend and I were just talking about this Saturday....especially as in our area, everyone is experiencing being shut it and in such a hurry once they do get out. SO we smiled and took our time. We enjoyed conversation during slow traffic. We let lunch linger longer due to snow outside. Se tipped our waitress extra for having to deal with crabby people. It's the simple things that make or break us. SMILE!

  5. Just moving here to the Pacific Northwest two years ago has changed everything for me. In California, people tend to do as you described the shoppers on the phone. Pushing past you so they could get a better look as thought they were more important. It was like that all over there! I was used to it, I lived my entire life there!
    Then I moved here. I couldn't believe how kind people are here! Saying excuse me, opening doors for each other, letting you go ahead of in line because you have fewer groceries, smiling and saying thank you when you do something kind for them. It is such a relief to be among people who care about each other. I find myself watching out for other people more, so I can take care of them, because I know that in return, people will take care of me. I smile more and say thank you. (In California, if a person was a stranger, they looked at you funny if you said thank you, or excuse me) Don't get me wrong, not all Californians were like that, but it was more the rule than the exception.
    Thank you for posting this. It is a good thing to be reminded of.

  6. Love this post and agree wholeheartedly! My neighbor and I make an effort to extend kindness to each other, despite rarely crossing paths. I leave her eggs from my hens and she gives me goodies from her garden or pantry. Kindness that, although not necessary, makes life a little brighter.

  7. I was in the grocery store today and wanted to buy some shredded Parmesan cheese. The jarred brand that I love because it has no filler (like powered cellulose, yuck) is no longer carried by the store, so I went to the deli section and asked a clerk who was stocking the shelves. She was just the nicest person ever, helped me find one without filler, offered me a coupon on a different brand and even said she would grate a fresh chunk for me. She was so pleasant and helpful, she really made my day. You can be sure that I told her that, too. In our present political atmosphere where there is so much discord in the world, it is nice to know that niceness can prevail.

    1. kindness, niceness starts at home! and continues at the grocery!! be well, Sonja

  8. I love what you said about respect... and yes... if we treat all other peeps the way we want to be treated by them, then our world would be a much better place...

  9. My husband is a Vietnam veteran. He has a hat that he wears that tells that. When people stop him to say, "Thank you for your service," and shake his hand, it sometimes brings tears to my eyes! That is a pretty recent experience for Veterans of our generation. Thank you for your great post, LeeAnna! Definitely a good reminder for us all!

  10. Excellent post! The simple act of holding a door open was the most recent "polite" encounter I've experienced - not the chauvinistic "man must hold door for weaker woman" nonsense of our childhood, but one woman stopping mid-stride to hold the door for me. It made the rest of my day better and I hope it did for her, too.

    1. Recently a young man held the door for my husband and myself, allowing us to enter first. It gave me hope for the future. I never minded a man or anyone for that matter holding open a door for the next person. I hold it for those behind me too!

  11. I've always thought that's it's really easy to treat people the way you want to be treated. This is why I'm so frequently puzzled by discourtesy and bullying.
    I try to be polite and helpful to all. It makes a better world for everyone, doesn't it?