We are all aware that the culture in this country is in a deplorable condition. We have become accustomed to men wearing backward baseball caps in restaurants, to high school students with either their bosoms overflowing their tops (girls) or their bare butts on display, pants falling down (boys). Some of us, from another generation may not like it, but we are used to it.
We live with the fact that old-fashioned manners have disappeared with the years, that even the columnist, Miss Manners herself .has become something of a dinosaur, and opening a door for a lady is macho and anti-feminist. We hardly notice the boorish and the vulgar.
In the last few weeks, I have had three experiences that brought me up short. It was none of the above that made me sit up and take notice. It was that my use of common courtesy astounded-- well, not astounded-- but so surprised the recipients.
I mailed a check to pay my Wellesley Club dues, and the treasurer called to thank me. Now, it was I who was really astounded. I have paid those same small dues since 1941, the year I graduated. Thank me for paying my dues? She explained that some of the older members who no longer attend meetings do not pay. I understand; there are some organizations to which I have always belonged that I now do not pay, either. Those organizations hound me year after year to re-join. This is much ado about due(s); nevertheless. It was so nice to be thanked.
Next, Temple Israel called to say they had a gift for me, and a volunteer would bring it to my door. I told her that I couldn't get to the door at that moment, but I would in a very short while. She asked if she could leave it by my door, which she did. Because I didn't get a chance to thank her in person, I sent an e mail to the Temple administrator, asking where I should direct my thanks, and did I receive the box of Purim goodies because I was 90? She said my e mail was more thanks than was expected and it wasn't really because I was 90. I could read between the lines that my acknowledgement was a surprise. Why?
And finally, I ordered a magazine for a friend on-line and the order went through but there was no place for me to pay for it. So, I called the subscription department, and they were surprised that I had
made the effort to pay them.
There is a moral to these stories, somewhere in this blog.
To be nicer. more polite people, instead of going with the flow, we could try to divert the flow from spiraling down ward and begin, like salmon, to run against the tide.
Using common sense, we might find a consensus on the rules of common decency.
It's not Jane Austen I yearn for. It's just Emily Post.