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Common courtesy not so common these days

I’ve noticed that there seems to be something missing in today’s world, and it costs nothing to maintain. It is the simple act of having polite courtesy for one another.

It takes only a moment to smile or say hello to those we encounter in our daily lives, and, hey, there we are face to face with them anyway. Common courtesy just doesn’t seem so common to me these days.

I recently stopped by the deli in one of our local supermarkets and requested some sliced meat and cheese, “please,” from the woman behind the counter. When I received the requested items, I promptly thanked her. She smiled and told me that I was the first person to use the words “please” and “thank you” while interacting with her all day!

Really? Really!

Just because it was this employee’s job to serve me, and she received a wage to do so, was no reason for me to forget my manners, I thought. The same is true of fast-food workers, department-store associates, gas-station attendants, etc.

While visiting a local school while working with children, I have observed that they usually respond favorably at just being noticed with a smile or a greeting. Studies have shown that it improves self-confidence, and gives them the sense that they are important enough to actually be seen as individuals by others.

School is their “job,” but it should be a positive experience. A positive experience, in turn, could inspire that student to want to do well.

I realize that we live in a busy world, but if we’d each make a conscious effort to use our smile and our manners more frequently, it could be contagious. Who knows how many people’s lives we might touch ever so slightly?

We have the power to make a small, happy difference in another human being’s day. Who knows, we may even ruin the day of a grouch or two along the way!

Colleen McDonald lives in Medford.