Friday, June 5, 2015

Good Manners

A thousand years ago there was a song titled “Little Things Mean a Lot”.  The gold standard for that tune was recorded by a girl from Philadelphia by the name of Kitty Kallen, a former big band alumna. The lyrics Ms. Kallen sang in that song have eternal legs. They remind us that little things DO mean a lot. Examples like “please and “thank you” cost us a heartbeat in time but yield appreciation many times over.

Society used to place great emphasis on good manners. Our parents taught these lessons at home. In most cases they also served as models for same. Today we are less as a society for not keeping that good manners bar right where it used to be. Overall we've slipped down a slippery slope to everyday vulgarity.

 “Treat others as you would like to be treated” is easy enough to handle. Most times that is. There will always be those who make a lot of money which leads them to believe they are superior beings. Not true of course for being a bore as well as a boor is almost always the end result. A lot of people - particularly our young ones -  think materialism is the end game when it's not.

Out to breakfast last Sunday, I was impressed by the courtesy a visitor from New Orleans extended to the servers working in that restaurant. It was a nice example of what we are talking about here. We are not living in Jolly Old Britain where class consciousness is so inbred it was at least a partial cause for our break from the Mother Country. Consistent graciousness is also good practice for the mandatory moment when each of us will show up for The Final Review.

Now that she is “retired”, my wife volunteers for causes that assist the less fortunate. Some of the “combat stories” inflicting on volunteers at one charity re-sale shop defy belief.  I put on my old reporter's hat to check things out. Amazingly, some very well-to-do customers exhibit outright haughtiness, slam down their credit cards, rarely say “thank you” and in general treat the volunteer staff as if they were serfs. And the women working in this charity are volunteers! One can only imagine the misery of retail employees who must work for a living in a miserable setting. They don't have the luxury of walking out singing the words of David Allan Coe's memorable 1977 song “You Can Take this Job and Shove it.”

I find myself humming that tune on behalf of these volunteers.