Down the Backroads By Tim Thornberry

Posted on Jul 17, 2018

 

Of all the lessons I learned from my parents, the most important was recognizing the value in being kind to others and showing common courtesy. It was unacceptable, in our house, to do otherwise.

Phrases like “Yes Sir and Yes Ma’am” were common. “Thank you” was expected when applicable, as was “May I help you with that?”

And while saying the words was one thing, showing courtesy to others through our acts was also expected; things like holding a door for someone; taking the grocery cart back to the store instead of leaving it loose in the parking lot; offering a seat to another who was standing.

All these examples may sound like “no-brainers” and simple, but learning and practicing small acts of kindness and courtesy seems to be difficult for some people these days.

As I get older, I find myself noticing the lack of common courtesy around me in public and in our digital world.

Don’t get me wrong; I know there are plenty of kind people who still exists, but unfortunately, they are often overshadowed by those who have either forgotten how to be considerate, or they never learned it.

And you don’t even have to step out of your house to see it. All you have to do is watch one of the many news programs on television when two guests with opposite opinions, on any given issue, square off in a frenzy of words and allegations with one trying to talk over another. I find myself not really understanding either point after watching one of these shouting matches.

As a young person, following the rules set forth by my mom and dad, I discovered by extending a hand in kindness or friendship, speaking that kind word, and giving that opportunity to another, it made me feel good about myself; gave me self-worth.  

In times of debate, I found I had a better chance of getting my point across or at least heard, if I offered a bit of compassion to my “opponent.”

It doesn’t cost you anything to say, “good morning” to someone on your way to work and it’s not labor intensive to offer a smile to a stranger.

I will say this, in practicing what my parents preached, now, when I come across rudeness I try to be kind in its wake. But occasionally I will find myself wanting to retaliate in some form or fashion. The older I get the more often happens.

For instance, I recently walked into my favorite sandwich shop expecting the person behind the counter to say something like, “What can I get for you today?” Instead this person just looked at me and raised his eyebrows and hands as if he were saying, “What do you want!”

“I quickly responded by leaning in and saying, “You’re supposed to say, ‘How can I help you?’”

The man behind the counter found no humor in my remark but I did manage to get my sandwich.

My point is this, I think the world would operate more efficiently if we all treated each other with respect, kindness, courtesy, and in the case of the sandwich shop man, a little common sense, even when we disagree. 

I’m certain that practicing acts of kindness still goes a long way in how other people see us, and perhaps more importantly, how we see ourselves, as we make our way down the backroads.