The language of Good Manners is punctuated with simple, easy gestures of thoughtfulness. One that should come most naturally is the 'Greeting'. Whether it be at a restaurant, in church or a parking lot, the acknowledgement of another person is civility at its most primal, and purposeful. This past weekend spent in beautiful San Francisco proved a pleasant surprise on my personal greeting-meter scale, confirming that perhaps, the greeting isn't really dead afterall.
I'll never forget the first time I strolled down a South Carolina beach one sunny summer morning. "Good morning", "How y'all doing?", "Maam", one beachgoer after another said with a tip of the forehead. But like Robert DeNiro in "Taxi", this jaded Californian looked around and behind myself, certain the pleasantry was intended for someone else. I thought, "You talkin' to me?"!
In the years since, we've come to appreciate the fact that this is the norm, not the exception in the South, the cradle of civility. Fortunate to divide our time between both coasts, we have brought that basic polite exchange back with us to California. Our 'Good Mornings' and 'Good Days' aren't always returned, but it hasn't dissuaded us.
Whether someone is absorbed in their own thoughts, as Emily Post writes in her bible of good behavior, the bad habit of the slight, whether intentional or not, is rude. Much of Post's standards may be considered archaic today. But nearly a century ago, Post wrote that 'for one person to look directly at another and not acknowledge the other's bow is a breach of civility that only gravest cause can warrant. The "cut"...a direct stare of blank denial...is not only insulting to its victim but embarrassing to every witness.' 'Happily, it is practically unknown in polite society', she went on to write in the tenth edition of her tome.
Sadly, she could not have imagined then just how pervasive the "cut" would become in our society.
So the next time you find yourself out in public, don't forget to nod and greet your fellow human beings whose paths you cross. You needn't become a Walmart Greeter, bobbing your head up and down while issuing verbal notice to everyone within a mile of you. But the lovely, polite gesture will soften your demeanor, and most likely, that of your fellow man. Go out and GREET the day! Lisa