Yesterday while out shopping, I watched as my husband opened the door to one of the stores and stood back to let a lady exit. To my complete dismay and irritation, she got halfway through the exit and then stopped to yell at someone she was talking to on the phone. While Liam and I stood patiently, she concluded her conversation, slammed the phone shut, and then turned around to grab her kid. When she was finally ready to leave the store, she never once looked in our direction; neither did she mumble a “thank you”.
I admit I was angry at first, but then I just got sad. I wasn’t around for it, but I do know there was a time when a stranger could show up at a homestead and be invited in for food or rest. Nowadays, we don’t even know our neighbors’ names. When did we go from brotherly love to a world full of strangers? When did that sense of basic human kindness disappear?
I see goodness on a grand scale quite often, of course; that’s undeniable. After major disasters, people seem to come together to offer aid to the suffering, and it’s a beautiful thing to experience. Churches send out mission trips on a regular basis, and lives are forever changed. I don’t doubt there are still decent human beings out there, and I know I meet my fair share on a daily basis. I also know that everyone is entitled to an off day. My husband will tell you I have more off days than on days, as a matter of fact. I do feel that we’re all missing some connection to each other that mankind once had, and it leads to situations like I observed yesterday. It leads to strangers looking at me like I’m crazy and asking, “Why are you being so nice to me?”
I want to feel that connection to people. I want someone’s smile to brighten my day. Actually, I hope my smile brightens someone else’s day. Mostly, I wish that lady wanted to thank my husband for holding the door for her.
As ye do unto the least of these…
3 thoughts on “For Goodness Sake”
True confession? I gave an older gentleman looking for a ride on the side of the road outside my neighborhood a lift to the nearest convenience store last month. I drove past him, and he reminded me of my father (no real idea why, he looked nothing like my father.) But something told me to turn around and go back for him. All I could think is I am the mother of small children, this is how horrible news stories start.
Anyway, he was afraid to get in my car! I live in South Carolina, and he was an older black gentleman. I tried to make conversation with him, showed him respect with “Yes, sir” and the man literally squirmed in my car.
Sad thing, I didn’t even get a thank you. But perhaps I didn’t need one. Because driving this man who “don’t drive” to the Little Cricket made me appreciate my comfortable life and blessings much, much more than his thanks. And if I was forced to walk in triple digit heat everyday to get picked up a mile away from my house to get to work, I probably wouldn’t be too keen on thanking a person half my age with seemingly everything given to them.
Common courtesy shouldn’t be dependent on socio-economic status, privilege, or age–or anything else for that matter. You did a nice thing for no other reason than to be nice. When we perform kind acts, we shouldn’t expect a thank you, but we should get one. I think it’s great that you took the time to stop and help, even if you didn’t get any acknowledgement at the time for your kindness.
I hear you loud and clear. I find it fascinating that peoples manners seem to have disappeared over time. I know with 3 young children I often find people, men in particular will do small gestures, such as open doors or pick up something a child has dropped. Although I may be frazzled at the time (you try going out alone with 3 kids under 4 *shakes head*) but I will always, always take a moment to say Thanks. After all, that’s what my Mother taught me, and sometimes a simple smile from a stranger really can make a day go from woe to go. I hope I can lead my example with my children and they will be polite and offer helping hands as they grow up. As for the neighbours. I hear you on that too, and I’m afraid I’m guilty of living in our own little bubble. Our neighbourhood is fairly new and all the houses in our street are occupied by young families, most of them my children’s age. I often wonder why I haven’t taken the step to knock on their doors and offer play dates or a simple hello. For now, we just give a small wave and hello in passing. You’re post may have just given me the extra boost needed to go that little bit further.
Jen – your words are wonderful, as always.
P.S Still virtually eating Girl Guide cookies and boy are they delicious!