Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Greasing the Gears

Millie writes:

After popping the sweet rolls in the oven today (reading about Maggie's pretzel adventure has launched me into a baking binge), I took a rare “by myself” trip to our local library. I had something to drop off and something to pick up . . . as usual, I got more at the library than I bargained for.

As I was wandering through the stacks I had to pause – a little boy about 4 years old, his arms loaded with books, was beaming all over his face as he charged off to the checkout desk without looking where he was going. His mom and I exchanged understanding smiles; he didn't mean to knock into me and probably didn't even know he had, he was so excited about his new treasures! A couple of minutes later, my own new treasures tucked under my arm, I paused again. A white-haired gentleman in his early 60s, wearing faded jeans and a white tank top, was coming in as I was going out. He held the door wide for me with a gracious smile. I thanked him warmly – after all, I was raised right, too!

How can anyone object to this? How does it take away anyone's “power,” to be treated kindly and to respond in kind? Sure, men open doors for women; women also open doors for men, if the men's arms are full, and for other women, if they're nearby.

Too many people seem to think that simple politeness is tantamount to an expression of disdain. Opening a door, slowing down your car so that someone can cross a street, or serving someone else first aren't statements that you think another person is helpless; gestures like these are the grease that keeps society moving smoothly.

That nice man who held the door for me – it certainly made me feel good, and my smile and “Thank you!” made him smile, too. I didn't exchange a word with the 3-year-old's mom, but we shared an, “Ah, kids!” moment nevertheless – and she got a tiny bit of affirmation that she's still a person, which can be all too rare during those tiny-kids-at-home years.

So I got three books, social validation and a blog idea from that 15-minute library run. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.

(Oh, and according to Lance - I WIN at sweet rolls.)

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