Good manners is nothing more than a series of petty sacrifices.
– Ann Landers
We had some more elections across the nation last week and political pundits were quick to point out that things got ugly.
Well, what do you expect?
Being polite is a diminished virtue in our land of diminished expectations.
That is a shame, because I am here to tell you that good manners can get you through those times we all have when good sense takes a siesta.
Unfortunately, many of our codes of etiquette were developed long ago and are sometimes difficult to apply to modern life.
Well, if it’s a new ballgame then here are some new rules.
LONG LINES OF CARS: You’re poking along and it’s bumpers ahead as far as you can see. Then you come across someone who wants to get in line.
It’s not going to slow you down more than three seconds to let that person out and into traffic. You’ll feel good about yourself and their faith in humanity is restored. Believe me, somehow, somewhere, some way that good deed will come back to help you.
On the other hand, if someone lets you get in front of them in a long line of traffic, don’t feel compelled to immediately reciprocate by letting out the first person you come across in a similar situation.
You still have an obligation to that motorist behind you to keep things moving. If he or she is still feeling generous, let them make the decision.
TRAFFIC CUTOFFS: If you’ve read this space for more than a few years, you know I think folks that cut you off in traffic need to be stopped, yanked out of their vehicles and horsewhipped. Such deserving retribution is frowned upon by the lenient American justice system, so, make patience your watchword.
Take down their license number. Save it. If there is any justice in the world, you might come across that car again in a grocery store parking lot when you suddenly lose your grip on a shopping cart … once or twice.
WRONG NUMBERS: someone calls and asks for “Mavis.” You don’t know anyone named Mavis, except maybe that substitute teacher in the sixth grade. You should politely tell the caller that he or she has the wrong number. Then, and this is important, tell them what your phone number is.
If you don’t, the odds are they will immediately call you back.
CHECKOUT LINES: If somebody gets behind you in a grocery checkout line and only has a package of potato chips and you have enough supplies to feed France, let them get in front of you.
If however, the situation is reversed and you have only one item and they have two cart loads ... and ... pretend like they don’t notice you and instead begin filling up the conveyer with their stuff, take a deep breath and be patient.
Better yet, be helpful.
Because they don’t seem very attentive, you can easily help fill out their order by adding a couple of overpriced items from the impulse rack. Tic-Tacs are good.
Quietly place them on the conveyer belt.
If there is an Augusta Chronicle rack nearby, why not slip a newspaper in there, too?
Everyone needs to stay informed.