I stood behind two twenty-something girls at Starbucks today who were demanding and neither thanked their server nor did they leave a tip. Yes, yes, I know you hate Starbucks and why should we tip them, etc, etc. Well, I don't hate Starbucks and I have one in particular where I have been greeted kindly and personally, given wonderful service and also have had various Barista's give me free drinks without any reason to do so except I was kind. There's another Starbucks I don't visit as often where the Barista, without fail, gifts me a free drink. I ask him how he is, he tells me, he asks me about my writing, I tell him. I don't talk on my phone while I'm ordering and I nearly always leave a tip.

Back to the girls. Sunglasses and jeans were designer and very expensive. They didn't move away from the counter until they were asked. This is what I call the Me-Bubble, no one matters but me, I have no idea of what is going on in the world and I don't care. This attitude is not unique to young women. I have seen groups of mothers with crazed toddlers destroy the kids area at Starbucks with food, spilled drinks, thrown courtesy books and then walk away without taking a moment to undo the damage.  I have sat at an intersection trying to enter traffic and been shut out by middle-aged men and women. I have waved someone in front of me and received no wave in return, no awareness that someone tried to be generous. the other day I ended up holding several doors for a neighbor and her kid, we were leaving, they were coming in. She stopped to get her mail while I held the door. The kid walked through and she never said "thank-you" or suggested the kid hold the door. Evidently, I was supposed to wait on her. That kid is going to grow up thinking people are supposed to hold the door for them.

Okay, so this isn't going to stop world hunger or racism or make those rich people who refuse to pay their taxes behave better but guess what, it might make things slightly nicer if you stop being so awful. Say, please, thank-you, god bless you or whatever when someone sneezes. Get up for people who are pregnant, older, handicapped or simply look exhausted. Open the door and help people who are about to drop stuff. I had to stop a girl at Walgreens who was talking too fast and moving too fast to an elderly woman who needed help. "Listen," I said, "You need to slow down. She needs help so talk to her so she can follow what you're saying." The girl rolled her eyes. "You will be old some day," I said. "Behave!" Yes, I was a teacher and it may be easy for me to boss people around but that's no excuse. I think if you see someone standing on a corner with a map you should ask them if they're lost and offer help. The kindest people I ever lived with were New Yorkers. They talked quickly and they were brusque but I was never ignored or subtly put down.

Thank the bus driver, the mail person, your child, your husband, the waiter, the cleaning person at your gym. Make eye contact, teach your kids to do the same. Civilization needs to be consistently emphasised and renewed. Who knows about those Romans? At least they didn't have cell phones.

The other day Luke told the cat to "shut-up".
"Don't say shut-up," I said. "It's rude."
"He's a cat," he said. "
I don't care," I said. "It's mean and we don't say it." Be nice to everyone. Even the cat.


Popular Posts