Common courtesies go a long way today
April 27, 2013
Manners, common courtesy, respect.
We have a serious shortage of these cost-free amenities in our society.
This week I returned from a trip to Cleveland, my hometown. For the first time after flying all over the world, I felt some genuine trepidation regarding my travels. Whereas I could not exactly describe my fear I could certainly feel a frightful anticipation as I prepared to leave.
Part of my anxiety was the purpose of my travel — to visit my nearly 92-year-old Auntie who was recently put in a nursing home and is very unhappy. She was a special “Nanny” to us five children and Mother’s only sister.
Auntie Sophie was a huge help to Mother, and very interested and active in our well-being when we were growing up. I have very fond memories of her.
However, my fears en route were quickly dispelled; to calm down, I was reliving events I had known with Auntie. What helped was the unusual but very welcome attitude of all the people involved with air travel. It was the first time I felt like a person and not one of the sheep being herded through the process. I felt less stress finally and believed flying would be pleasant. It was.
Rather than hearing, “next,” it was “Miss, can I help you through the scanner,” or, “Let me carry your bag to the gate.” The experience continued throughout my airport hopping, profoundly different from the hassle that usually accompanies air travel. My flights all left and arrived on time. Each was filled to capacity but not one host or hostess was anything less than cheerful, accommodating, and easily accessible. It was an excellent flying experience going and returning. What a difference a few manners, courtesies, and sensitivity made.
Today, I think this experience is one to remember as it may be the very last time air travel is a positive, exciting venture.
I do sincerely wish our president and Congress served the American people with manners, respect, and dignity. It would be American to see these missing amenities in decisions that are making life more difficult. Politically correct is a seriously dangerous way to run a country.
My sister prepared me well for the attitude and anger Auntie Sophie expresses constantly in the nursing home. I wanted to help her accept the huge change to her life and the health issues she faces. Auntie Sophie told me to bring black clothes because I was “going to a funeral.” I was bringing green, pink, yellow, and purple things to celebrate spring and be cheerful. She told me it would be “disrespectful” to wear any of those to her funeral. I now think her greatest infirmity is her demeanor; she’s not done living.
We went to the nursing home to visit Auntie Sophie. She exhibited respect for no one at all. She seemed like a stranger to me. No celebrating of spring as the weather was cold, windy, rainy, and sometimes snowy for my visit. Television was also not an option because the Boston Explosions and devastation are nothing but depressing.
The only option was to be upbeat and excited about the smallest of things. I brought photos of my new shower and patio which she prayed would be completed on a daily basis.
While sharing the pictures with her I was as teary-eyed with happiness as I was when the project began many months before. Her comments included, “I hate showers. If you like it, fine. To tell you the truth, I was getting really tired of praying for that shower door and then the patio for months and months.”
This was going to be a tough cookie to visit and cheer! We did not quit trying. Auntie Sophie both smiled and laughed during my stay.
A genuine smile is contagious; a kind word, a helping hand are precious, “thank you” is a good practice; and laughter, ’tis true, is the best medicine.
Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.