Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The word is “Thank you”

I was driving into work this morning, in the usual traffic, and I came across a woman in her massive SUV trying to turn left across three lanes. Now first – why this woman was choosing to turn here was beyond me – this is the same traffic that is here every single day. You know this is a feudal attempt. You know that you really need to travel 100 more feet and turn at the light. But no – she chose to sit there, huffing and irritated because she could not cross the street. Well, I stopped, and so did the nice car to my right. We cleared the path for her to turn. She then whips across the lanes like she was the one who spotted the opening and better cut us off before her window of opportunity closes. I am sure the dramatic screech of her car was terribly unnecessary, but definitely added to the drama. Within seconds she was off in a puff of smoke like a cowboy tearing off on the range.

Was there a nod of acknowledgement?

Was there a wave of thanks?

Of course not – why should there be? Why should she snap out of the comfort of her shell and realize that not only was there a small moment to be thankful for, but that moment was due to the kindness of strangers.

Manners – what has happened to manners? What has happened to being aware of those around you? Aware of their needs or aware of the fact that they, in some small way, are trying to help you with your needs? Holding a door open, making eye contact, and God forbid, smiling?

Ironically this is one thing that I really miss about New York. Awhile ago Myth busters did a show trying to confirm the old wives’ tale about a bull in a china shop. What they discovered was that the bull was graceful and aware and not one piece of china was touched. They maneuvered their way through aisles of glass and china with the ease and grace of a dancer. New York, too, has fallen prey to an untrue old wives’ tale. There is this belief that in the hustle and bustle of the city, no one cares, no one is nice. You are a one man island amongst millions of one man islands. But that is not true. I think because you are forced into such a public situation with people, you have no choice but to be aware of them. You have to walk in pace with the energy of those around you. Otherwise nothing would get done and you would go no where.

I think a major problem that mobile urban cities have is that people are so consumed with their own energies that they have no idea what is going on around them. People are not forced to be public. People go from their home, to their car, to their parking spot, to their office. People take the same drive day after day. People have their routes timed down to the traffic light cycles. And when anything occurs to interrupt that very static cycle, the impression is that the world is out to get them.

The world is not out to get you. No one is out to get you. In fact, I believe that most people want to help. I believe that most people want to make eye contact, smile and hold the door open when your hands are full. I think most people want to connect to each other.

I know I do. And I know a lot of people around me who do – so THANK YOU. Thank you for what you have done in the past and thank you for what you for what you will do in the future.

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