Civility

A lot has been said about the lack of civility these days.  I agree, though I don’t think the problem is with politics, politicians or pundits.  This is not a political post…though the political rhetoric is a bit intense; I think the real problem with civility is with the populous.  What happened to common courtesy?

This weekend was a perfect example.  My wife and I went to the Norman Chocolate Festival.  We bought tickets for a 12:00-12:30 tasting, though it was 1:00 before we ever got in sight of the door.  The horrible planning and execution of the event aside, the people there were nuts!  There was a line that went along the vendors and would have moved in an orderly fashion if people hadn’t been cutting, pushing and shoving.  I was pushing a stroller with Selah asleep inside.  People were pushing past the stroller and in front of me in line.  At one point there were 8 people separating my wife and myself.  We had just been next to each other.  Then they would stop and hold up the line trying to decided between two samples of chocolate.  It’s not like their decision would cure cancer…it was a chocolate cupcake.  Yes it was a good chocolate cupcake, but after cutting in line, they held it up having almost a theological discussion over which chocolate cupcake to get.  The funny thing is…there were two main offenders, they could have gotten one of each and shared.

At this same event one of the vendors was taking pictures.  He stepped in front of me and was trying to take a picture so I stopped as to not get in his picture, but he just held is position as I looked at him, waiting for him to take a picture so I could move on.  He finally said ‘would you mind getting out of my way?’  What a way to talk to someone.  I was trying to stay out of his way, there are easily a dozen different ways to more politely put that request.

Following this example of poor planning and crazy crowds, we went to Sam’s Club.  The people were more civil, but the employees were rude.  They were restocking shelves, which is understandable…but they kept almost running people over including myself and the baby.  They were acting like I was just another obstacle in their way and they didn’t care if they pushed or ran over me with their big pallet moving carts.  I actually called the store and talked to the manager about why there was no “excuse me” or apology from these employees.  For the manager’s part he was apologetic and said he would go talk to the employees.  I understand they have a job to do and it was very busy, but that is no excuse for a lack of common civility.

I was told at Chik-Fil-A employees are required to say “My Pleasure” every time a customer says “Thank You.”  I put this to the test.  I said “Thank You” to everything, and every time it was met with “My Pleasure.”  Side note…this can be a great pick-me-up on a bad day to be treated with such respect.  It got me thinking, why don’t we all act like this?  Is society so complicated and fast-paced that we no longer need to treat others with respect?  I don’t think so.  I think the problems we see in every-day life could be made better with just a little civility.

Another example…the carts at the grocery store.  I timed it once.  I went and got someone’s haphazardly placed cart and took it to the cart corral.  It took 30 extra seconds to make the round trip.  Not even a minute of my day to make sure someone could park in that parking spot.  Thirty seconds to make sure a minimum-wage employee didn’t have to spend more time in the cold tracking down carts?  Is it laziness or is it disrespect.  I say it’s a bit of both and both have to stop.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated.  It’s a lesson we all learned, or should have learned, in kindergarten.  The lesson is still true, why can’t we all start saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more?  Why can’t we all say ‘My Pleasure’ to someone’s “Thank You?”  Or as some of my Australian friends would say a “No Worries” to someone’s “Thank You.”  Just something to acknowledge that someone has been polite.

I want to try to be nicer to others.  I want to bring civility back to my life.   I can only change myself and hope it catches on.