Delivery & Installation, Operations, V10I3

Common Courtesy: Let’s Make It Trend

(Photo courtesy of Kindel Media from Pexels)

I live in an area of the United States where all interstates should be three and four lanes wide and all secondary roads should be at least two lanes wide. 

In other words, there is a lot of traffic. This causes a lot of issues, including people following too closely and constantly piling up. Wrecks and more wrecks.

I have a road less than a mile from my house that used to be a main road before I-85 was built. When we moved here, it was a typical forgotten U.S. road. All the old motels, gas stations, and such with very little traffic.

Mornings and evenings, it would flare up a bit as people went to work and school, but not really any worse than other roads though. 

After midnight, it would almost dry up to nothing. You could drive five miles and not see a car.

Not anymore. Dozens and dozens of subdivisions with hundreds of houses in each one have changed not only the landscape, schools, churches, and stores, but also the traffic. 

This road has become a nightmare. Cars after midnight are nothing surprising. At 3 a.m., it starts all over again. 

Southbound, it’s a four-lane that just exits right of the interstate with nothing to slow it down. One mile in and you have already passed three of those huge subdivisions. But it’s still four lanes. Then, it abruptly goes to two lanes and then back to four lanes for two miles and then a two lane, again. 

Did I say nightmare? Death trap. Someone needs to turn left in the two-lane sections, and they all forget how to stop. So, the DOT decided to put a roundabout in. But that’s whole other story.

Now that we have the groundwork laid, let’s talk about what the real problem is. It’s not the traffic, and it’s not that people don’t know how to drive (well, that’s debatable). And it’s not that they don’t have common sense, they do. 

Most of these people are great people. They have jobs, great families, go to church, love Jesus, you name it. They are great citizens.

You want to know what’s missing? Common courtesy.

It’s like we don’t even know that there was such a thing. Google it. Here, I copied a couple … What is common courtesy? the basic level of politeness that you expect from someone: His communications were characterized by a lack of common courtesy. It’s only common courtesy to thank someone who has helped you. Sending out rejection letters is a matter of common courtesy.

How do you show common courtesy?

Be cordial. Greet people when you arrive, when you leave, when you pass in the hall, or when you encounter them in the elevator. A simple good morning, hello, goodbye, or goodnight will do. Look them in the eye. 

Make an effort to exchange polite conversation and shake hands when you’re introduced to someone.

Some of these are easy for me. I was taught to always open and hold doors. To say thank you and you’re welcome. Some are manners. Always stand to shake hands. There are lots of them.

I’m not going to lie. I don’t always get it right. The biggest enemy of common courtesy is being in a hurry. I tend to be there a lot, and it affects my common courtesy. 

That traffic issue? Same. No one leaves enough space anymore. You can’t. Someone else will steal it. Everyone’s in a hurry.

Then when the inevitable happens, we all are stuck. So much for being in a hurry. And some still try to weave their way through. And someone always pays. Sometimes with their lives. 

And I want to get out and ask, “Was it worth it?!” Of course not. We all know that.

You want to know where this is worse than anywhere? Yeah, you already know. Social media. The things we do and say behind our little keyboards, we would never ever dream of saying in public. Ever. 

Imagine walking up to the front door of a guy’s house who has a truck parked out front for sale. He answers the door to, “Hey buddy, are you smoking crack? That price is ridiculous! There’s one over on Sucker Road for half that money! Here, look. Here is his ad! I’ll put it on your truck for you.” 

Imagine that. It happens all the time on social media. We all know it. Traffic and social media are probably the two worst.

But are there others? Absolutely. How do you rate at work? At church? At home? Your family? Oh, now I’m meddling. Yes, I am. How do you treat your fellow workers? Your customers? Your clients? Ouch.

I’m not talking about being a doormat. Not at all.

You defend what is right. You defend your space. You defend your freedom. And sometimes that takes a little bowing up. A little pushing back.

That reminds me of a story. Here I’m going to tell on myself. It happened in traffic, and I had the Shed Geeks with me. This was a couple of years ago. Same issue: too much traffic and not enough lanes, and I was driving Bessie. Not a good combination. 

We were riding along on a packed highway just having a grand old time when I noticed this little car. You know, the little squatty car with too much wheel and way too much exhaust? Anyhow, he was weaving his way up through traffic behind me.

Sure enough, he made it up beside Bessie and made the unfortunate decision to try to squeeze in front of her. But Bessie already knew he was going to try that and was ready. The fake gap she had left for his little car disappeared instantly as she roared to life in a big cloud of black smoke. 

But she didn’t stop there. No, sir. She rode him right out of his lane and right onto the shoulder. All the while “someone” was yelling, “Oh! You wanna play, do ya?” 

It all happened pretty fast. The one Geek howled with glee. The other one was white knuckled trying to grab something, anything, to hold onto. I never did figure out who was more petrified, the little car pilot or the Geek. But the little car didn’t try to pass anyone for the next five miles.

Sigh. Sometimes I lose my temper. Then, I lose my common courtesy. Then, I lose my common sense, and it’s not good. Occasionally I still feel justified, but I probably shouldn’t.

So where are we? Do we understand common courtesy? It’s something that is so easy to do, and yet, so hard. 

Get the right customer and watch how fast it becomes hard. Get the right antagonist on social media and watch how fast it goes south. The right coworker. Boss. Employee. Church member. Family member.

It’s tough. I know. I’m blessed to have a huge platform. It’s an honor, and I don’t ever take it lightly. And I failed (and will fail) many times. I’m no better than anyone. Yet, I have to get up and go again.

My first and easiest solution? Slow down and not just while driving. 

Yes, it’s hard. I plan too much and want to get too much done. And now I’m getting old. Older I should say. More stuff hurts than it used to, and that makes me grouchy. No excuse. Have to do better. 

Put those extra blocks in. Smile. Look them in the eyes. Take a moment and thank them. Hold that door. Pick up that piece of trash. Leave a little more room. Count to 10. Whatever it takes.

What we all need is a little grace. A lot of grace. I’ll leave you with this little quote: 

There’s so much good in the worst of us, 

And so much bad in the best of us,

That it hardly behooves any of us,

To talk about the rest of us.

And yet, we do. Grace and blessings to each of you.

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