A Common Courtesy

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am a way too high-maintenance for my own good, but sometimes it’s just the little things that make me happy. And all too often it feels like people suck on purpose because they know at any given moment someone will be annoyed. So without delving too much into the racial divide that has taken over every aspect of national interest over the past month, I’d like to speak on something that is character-defining and doesn’t make a difference whether you are white, black, brown, red, green, gay, straight, lesbian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc., etc., etc.

parkIt wasn’t one particular incident that drove this feeling out of me and there’s certainly no general expectation for every last person alive to have prim and proper manners, but there’s one thing that reminds me each and every day that there are genuinely good people in the world. Have you ever been walking through your town/city/neighborhood and had someone waved and say, “Hey, how are ya doing”? Maybe you don’t need a best friend or someone to listen. Maybe you don’t want to talk and have somewhere you need to be. Maybe you weren’t even really paying attention and weren’t sure what this random stranger just said. No matter.

When someone smiles and says hello or even just says something friendly or generally positive in your direction it can make you forget about everything else you have in mind. And it’s what leaves the glimmer of hope that you might have that we aren’t doomed to continuously repeat mistakes as a society. But let’s keep this small-scale. It’s the difference between thinking a person is polite and decent and thinking a dude is a complete fucking d-bag. Even if said guy really is a dick but is nice in that moment, it’s worth assuming and looking for the best in someone.

Conversely, and it’s seen all too often, people walk through small streets with few people walking past each other and barely speak a word. Hell, I’d take a fucking head nod or some guy looking directly at me and continuing to walk. You can point to racial profiling (on either side) and you can make excuses all day, but at the end of the day these people have to live with it. Unfortunately, there aren’t many people that say “excuse me” or “thank you” or anything else that generally constitutes some form of acknowledgment and that shit is just sad.

No person that keep up a façade all day every day being nice when they are a complete Debbie-downer, but when someone greets you with pleasantries just suck it up and say it back. No one expects you to become fast friends in the middle of the street. They just expect to you to treat them like an actual equal human being. So this holiday season I’d ask that you try something for me. You don’t have to be nice any more often than usual. You can be a dick all the time for all I care. But when you’re walking down the street and you have a chance to look up and say, “Hey, how are you doing”? Make the most of your opportunity. It’s the little things.

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