“Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage. They form at least a rich varnish with which the routine of life is washed, and its details adorned.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve always been a huge proponent of good manners because I find that politeness comes easy for me. Why wouldn’t I be anything but cordial to my fellow human beings? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Now that I live in a city that isn’t known for its outward friendliness, I realize that there are several things that I took for granted in the friendly Midwest. Here are some of the things I took for granted:
- People saying “excuse me” after they accidentally step on your foot.
- Sales people who look you in the eye, smile, and say, “Thank you for shopping at the Gap. Did anyone help you today?”
- Being greeted with a warm smile when entering a store.
- Sales people who look you in the eye in general when helping you make a transaction.
- Strangers on the street who smile and say hello.
- Any level of customer service at Starbucks.
- The “no, after you” mentality when getting on public transportation.
While outward friendliness isn’t always a strong suit of every person I’ve met on the streets of New York, I do believe that everyone is inherently friendly. Some people just don’t choose to show their friendly side. That’s why I kill everyone with kindness. I find that outward friendliness often brings out the friendliness in the other person. If it does not, than I know that the other person is truly made of stone, thus undeserving of my attention and affections. But even with these outwardly grumpy people, such as the checker at the grocery store who never makes eye contact when scanning my food items, I still can’t help but offer a smile and a “have a wonderful day.” No use in stooping to their level.
Even on the subway, when shoved into the car like sardines, I try to show a little politeness by always reaching for the highest point on the pole to make room for those who aren’t as tall as I am and need something to hold on to as the subway lurches forward. I even say “excuse me” as I push my way through the door.
I find that the majority of people are actually nice and respond well to politeness. You just have a dig a little deeper to find it in some people.