I have noticed that we are often very opinionated about what other people should be doing. And on the subject of manners we are very vocal about the lack of them in other people, especially if we don’t like the way they treat us. Heaven forbid we even consider we may be at fault or there is room for improvement on our part. To imply, even unintentionally that there is a shortfall in the manners department of a person is enough to send that individual into a simmering indignation that is difficult to diffuse. But here is the secret about manners and etiquette – it only takes one person to start the ball rolling in the direction of improving the outcome of any interaction. I’ll give you an example that could have been easily overlooked if I wasn't an observer of the actions of people in relation to etiquette.
Last week as I was driving into Hamilton along Reid Street extension, I approached the junction of Reid and King Street. As usual, my mind was on deadlines and the amount of work I had to complete that day and I’m certain the expression on my face reflected that. An elderly woman stepped onto the crosswalk and began to cross the street. She had a walking stick and her progress was slow. That drew my attention directly to her instead of what was may have been happening elsewhere. When she completely passed in front of my car, she turned to look at me and said “thank you” before continuing on her way. I could not help but smile at her in return. Common courtesy. That is all it takes. She was of a generation where those types of courtesies were important and a part of daily life. It brightened my day that a person would express gratitude for something I had done even though I was required by law to do it. In other words, she didn’t have to say anything, but she did. That interaction improved my frame of mind and made me wonder what I could do for the next person I met, that would be just as nice. It only takes one person to start the ball rolling.