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Manners are important

In these times particularly we should not lose sight of being kind, considerate and continue to mind our manners and keep to social norms. We still need to stop at traffic lights, wait our turn in lines, do all the other things we expect when interacting with others in society – plus do social distancing.

While those who are on the frontlines, the essential workers, across all services, work to keep us healthy, safe, and keep our cities and communities working, these stalwart souls do not have the luxury of social distancing and yet work on tirelessly. To all of these people – thank you -thank you -thank you.

My quarrel is with those who feel it is an opportunity to be lax, to disregard social consideration, and selfishly disregard other people’s rights and safety.

For some it is cutting off pedestrians crossing the street and turning in front of them to round a corner, gaining an extra two or three second of time.  Thank you to those who do not do this or who wait for the pedestrian to indicate – please go ahead.

To be sure, those who think only of themselves probably are like this all the time and current events have not changed their behaviour.

For others, they seem to think only of their own interests, their own problems and their own convenience. Only self-absorbed individuals do not seem to realise that they take up space along pathways where people still go walking. While out on my daily walk, I came near a youngish man looking at what appeared to be his phone, and walking around taking up the width of the sidewalk.

It happened on a particularly narrow part of the sidewalk where off the walkway were marsh-like puddles preventing people from easily getting around him.  I turned and went out of my way on an alternate route because I was uncomfortable.  Others continued on by him.  But he could easily have walked another 40 steps to a wide open area where he could have walked in circles all day.

Perhaps he was just focused on his worries about paying his rent or the mortgage, or his business, or his bills.  So are millions of people.

I had to go into a drugstore to pick up my prescription, and I was waiting patiently at the pick-up desk while at the other end the pharmacist was handing over the prescriptions to the delivery man. I waited patiently when he was done but appeared to be checking on something. 

Out of the blue another man appeared and the pharmacist looked up.  The man spoke up and asked for his prescriptions and said he was dropping something off.  He was served first.  A small infraction on manners but indicative of those who feel that they should be treated special over others. I did mention to the pharmacist that I was in line first, but the processing of the man’s transaction went ahead of mine.

Some stories are about complete innocence. On one of my walks I came upon children playing in one of the few places they could on a small ice/snow mound.  I was walking by when the youngest one, around two came towards me with a big smile and a ‘hi’.  I did not want to make his father anxious, but I responded ‘hi’ and quickly continued on by.  Small things can warm the heart.

To be sure, when someone else needs help, or is limited by health, age, or some affliction we should give way. We need to remember that there are always others in a worse state than what we may be in.  And there are those who desperately need a helping hand. 

Let’s help where we can. Perhaps it is giving money to the food bank or another charity.  Perhaps it is in shopping for an elderly neighbour or shut-in.

Whatever small act of social kindness we can do, we need to remember that we are all in this together.