One Good Turn

John-WoodenBeing out and about in the general public these past days caused me to think how some people have forgotten many of the basics of social etiquette. I thank my parents as well as my school teachers for teaching me how to conduct myself in public as well as at home.

What precipitated this article was when I was walking down a hall two different times today and there came towards me from the opposite direction, two shoulder to shoulder and likely wannabe young professionals down the center. Since the hall was not that wide, I had to quickly move towards the wall to keep from running into them because neither the male nor the female would break their shoulder to shoulder formation. The first time I encountered them I thought they were too busy visiting to notice, but the second time, both of them saw me coming. How terribly rude. I gave both of them a bit of a stern look as I stepped aside and noticed one of them looking back. I hope at least the one looking back got the message.

If I’m standing in line at a grocery store check-out or waiting my turn at the counter of a convenience store, I notice far too many times when the clerk says, “Thank you and have a good day.”, so many of the customers don’t show much, or any sign of acknowledgment. I always find the clerks cheered up a bit when I simply say, “And you as well.” People who are not used to others showing at least an acknowledgment of their existence must find those kernels of kindness they get from courteous ones a real treat. There is one store here in Mason City that I really do hate shopping at simply because the clerks must eat nail sandwiches for breakfast or the daily rudeness of customers have worn them down to the state of automatonic beings.

It may sound like I’m getting back on my soapbox about the internet but in truth, the less personal interaction we have with others, the more we are loosing our connectedness with society in general. How many times have we lately held the door for a stranger rather than rushing far enough ahead or lagging behind so not to have to deal with an exchange with a stranger? Because I’ve worked with a number of elderly people in the course of my career, I can say nearly all of them do appreciate even the simplest of niceties. Many of the elderly feel they are being pushed aside as the expansion of technology becomes more confusing to them. What I would like to see happening in our communities is for there to be a small non-profit center established where the elderly can go for help with questions about why this or that is the way it is now. Yes, there must be that “arms length” in not giving advice, but to at least offer directions as well as choices. An extremely intelligent and recently retired professional has chosen to do as much as he can to assist people he knows, and some he don’t, with simple problems for which they need help. I believe his biggest help with those whom he sees, is the way in which he patiently educates and directs. It’s sort of like, “Here’s the problem, let’s understand it, and here are your possible options.” Now that is the sign of a caring person who understands that one good turn is yet another step higher in personal growth.