Discover more from Keeping It REAL Caregiving
How can we care for each other if we fail to master being nice?
OPINION: The vanishing art of being polite
Hello KIRC family!
Here’s a question for you and one I hope all of you will take a few moments to really think about. Something to take to heart.
What does it say about our society and the capacity to truly ‘care’ for each other if simple, everyday interactions, expressions of kindness, human decency, and politeness are no longer the norm, but rather an exception?
Several recent events (within the past 96 hours) have me thinking about this. I’m wondering just how much work is necessary to create a landscape in which individuals express empathy, care, kindness and support to others - especially as we age.
I would love to get your thoughts on the following incidents.
You’re too nice
Just a few days ago, I was sitting inside a Starbucks at La Guardia Airport in New York, awaiting a flight.
A couple walked in to sit down. I looked up from my computer, and slid my bag over to make sure they had plenty of space to get settled.
The man instantly barked, “Don’t worry! I’m not going to move your stuff. You still have plenty of room!”
I replied, “No worries. I was sliding over to make sure you guys have enough space.”
Both the man and woman instantly and visibly defrosted and both apologized. The woman said, “I’m sorry. I guess we forget how harsh we have become.”
I then asked, “You’re from here, aren’t you?”
She said, “Yes. But your’e not, are you? You’re too nice. Where are you from?”
I told them I lived in a smaller community in Northern California. I then shared that only a few hours prior, I had chatted with my husband and told him I noticed most people were scowling and simply seemed wore down, grumpy and borderline mean.
They both apologized again, and the woman said, “Sorry. It is almost embarrassing how we have become. Sorry again.”
The vanishing art of being polite
Incident number two happened four days later; still in New York, but a different community. It was 100% deja vu from the airport.
I stopped into a local department store in the community I am working this week.
As I approached the door, I saw a couple standing inside. It appeared as if they wanted to walk out. I wasn’t sure if they were waiting for a ride or waiting for the weather to clear. It was pouring rain outside. Maybe they were simply waiting for me to walk in? Either way, I did what I always do in such situations.
I paused and asked if they were walking out. She quietly mumbled “yes,” barely making eye contact.
I stepped back, held the door open and said, “Go ahead. You’ll probably need the umbrellas, it is pouring out here.”
The woman displayed a small, almost hesitant smile, and said ‘thank you,’ then nervously glanced at her husband. He didn’t say a word - just looked at me a bit sideways, and walked out.
Wow, right? Such a simple interaction but one that obviously created some angst.
As I stepped into the store, two sales associates at the counter had both seen the simple ‘hold the door open because it is the polite thing to do’ exchange.
Both the man and woman stopped me and said, with almost sheer delight, “Thank you for doing that.”
And then they said it. The exact same thing I heard in the airport.
“You’re too nice. You must not be from around here?”
Kindness is caregiving
How is it that simply being polite to another human being has become such a rare occurrence that people are shocked and surprised by the gesture?
How is it that extending common courtesy to another individual is considered being ‘too nice?’
I am reminded of the words of a dear friend, Kevens. He is a musician with a global reach and sings of hope, equity, and unity. His mantra? Positivity is a necessity. He could not be more right!
I can’t help but feel sadness that so many people might not experience positive interactions with others. Then right behind that emotion, is a bit of fear and unease.
I worry about the passage of time and the reality that I too, am aging. One day, I will likely have to rely on others for help. I have to hope they are kind, polite, and caring.
So I ask… will we be able to properly care for each other when so many seem to have such a hard time simply being nice?
*Would love to hear some of your stories of moments of ‘kindness’ -OR - moments when you wish someone could have been a bit more decent.
*I challenge each of you to make an effort each and every day to make a gesture of simple kindness to someone around you. We clearly need more of this in our world.
Until next time