“Mrs. Martell, I have to tell you that your daughter Emily is just so delightful. She has a permanent smile. I don’t think I have ever seen her without it.”
“What a pleasure Isabella was to have at the birthday party. What a happy, happy kid.”
“Ali, Josh is such a pleasure. He is welcome into our home at any time. He is so polite. Always smiling and offering to help. I wish my boys were like that.”
Yesterday, there was rain. I hadn’t anticipated it, so I had no umbrella with me. My ballet slippers were soaked through before I made it the long blocks to the subway. I sat in tired silence and read my bookâ€”The Night Circusâ€”on the slow, wet ride home. I got off of the subway and decided to grab a large coffee, knowing full well that when it rains, drivers forget how to drive and there would likely be a long haul ahead of me. I hadn’t been to that particular Tim Hortons location, but I got in line behind the one person in front of me, standing just to the left of the sign that instructed people to please line up here. I waited patiently for my turn to order.
A pouty-faced woman swooped in out of nowhere and stood beside me, and then a woman came and stood behind her. Confused, she looked over at me.
“Are you in line?”
“I am,” I said. I was pretty sure that had been obvious. “I am,” I repeated to pouty face.
“NO YOU ARE NOT!” shouts Pouty McGee.
“YOU ARE NOT STANDING WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. SO YOU AREN’T IN LINE.”
“Actually, I am in line. And I’m standing right beside this sign here that says this is where I should be standing.”
“NO. You are wrong.”
“YOU NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THE GLASS. THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE DONE.”
“Um, I’m justÂ followingÂ the sign. This is my first time here.”
“YOU ARE NOT IN LINE.”
“Also, you saw me standing here. You could have asked…instead of just assumed. I mean, what else would I be doing here?”
“THERE IS NO HELPING PEOPLE LIKE YOU.”
“There is no harm in being polite. Have a nice day,” I say before placing my large coffeeÂ withÂ milk and one splenda order and walking up and out into the pouring rain, umbrella-less.
It’s such an easy thing to do.
An ounce of polite.
It takes less effort than an ounce of bitter and rude.
Yet it still amazes me how many people can’t figure out how to smile.Â Or how to have some manners.
I make a lot of mistakes as a parent.Â But there’s one thing that I know I have done right.
I am raising my three children to talk to people with respect, to say please and thank you, to SMILE, even when they don’t feel much likeÂ smiling.