Recently I was taking a van loaded with kids, ages 11 to 16, home from a night at the movies. When I dropped them off at their respective homes, something was obviously missing as nearly every child jumped out and slammed the van door. It was mildly shocking when it first "happened," perhaps an oversight, I told myself. But as the omission turned into a pattern, it became more than shocking – it was maddening.
What was missing? Two simple words: "Thank you." Out of six guests, only one uttered the phrase. Let me quickly add, these kids are from good, decent families.
Lest you start thinking something akin to, "Honestly, these kids today! They're so spoiled and ungrateful!" allow me to share a similar story ... this time involving adults.
A few days ago, I sponsored an event where I supplied refreshments for a group of about 16 adults. Guess how many said thanks? Go ahead, guess.
Only three. That's right. Three. (And the refreshments were good, I might add!)
These two simple stories are anecdotal evidence that ours is a culture that is characterized by bad manners.
Again, lest you think I hang out with riff-raff, reflect for a moment: Ever heard of road rage? In an earlier time, courteous drivers meant fewer rude actions and reactions. Ever been in a long line at a grocery check-out stand and have a new register open up? You know what happens – carts go from 0 to 60 mph in a nano-second in a mad rush to get there first. Ever pull up at an ATM at the same time as another car? I've bet you've seen the mad dash there, too. And how many thank-you notes have you received from graduation gifts you've given in recent years?
From department store "service" counters, to 7-Eleven registers, it seems both clerks and customers lack the niceties of life that used to make life, well, so much nicer. I think it's time we encourage a little human kindness in our own spheres of influence.
I've found a fantastic resource that would make a terrific Christmas gift for the young children in your life or for the parents of young children you know. (Note: I never receive royalties, kickbacks, fees, etc. from endorsing products ... that would be in poor taste – reeking of very bad manners!)