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2 Comments Simple Civility, A Lost Art Form

Article written by Boris Bozic on the 08 Dec 2011 in Personal

nice to strangersIt’s a shame that extending simple civility and courtesy is rather uncommon today.  Not sure why it’s happening but from my perspective it doesn’t occur with the frequency it used too.  Words such as thank you, please, excuse me, after you, good morning, good afternoon, good evening was common.  Today, these words are an exception and not the rule.  If you think this is a Toronto thing, a big cold impersonal city, not at all.  I travel extensively across this country and I can honestly say that other cities in this country far more impersonal when interacting with strangers.  This post isn’t about rating cities as it relates to extending simple civility and courtesy.  I was just thinking that at this time of the year the courtesy dial moves up just a bit, but it’s a shame that come January it’s back to normal.

I want to share a story with you about something that happened to me this morning.  As a point of background, I like to freak one stranger out a day.  It’s a game that I play.  Here’s what I do, I pick someone out by an elevator, going up an escalator or elevator or someone standing behind me at the coffee shop.  These people are totally unsuspecting, lost in their own thoughts and they try to avoid eye contact.  The problem for them is that they can feel I’m looking at them, and for a split second they make eye contact with me.  That’s when the game begins.  The moment eye contact is made…I put on the widest smile I can…turn up the charm factor as high as it will go…and say something to the effect of…”and how are you this fine morning?”   This is where the fun for me begins.  Most people are taken aback by it because they’re not used to hearing that from strangers.  I can literally see them doing their mental calculations.  I suspect they’re thinking to themselves, “well, he’s too well-dressed to be homeless so what the hell does he want?”  When they realize that I’m not asking for anything they’ll extend a disjointed courtesy back my way.  I giggle to myself as they fumble along looking for the right words and wondering who this crazy man is.

So here’s what happened this morning.  It’s 7:30am and I’m waiting for the elevator at work.  A man who also works in the building walks up to the elevator bank and stands a good 10 feet away from me.  He has a briefcase in one hand, a shopping bag in the other and he looks miserable.    Let the games begin.  I walk a couple feet closer, he senses that, and we make eye contact, and that’s when I let him have it.  “Good morning, and how are you this fine morning?”  He goes through his mental gymnastics, and says, “fine, but it’s still early and there’s plenty of time in my day for it to get worse”.  Buddy, really?  Do you really think I give a @%*&?  Anyway, I chuckle and say “I’m sure your day will be just fine”.  A few moments later the elevator door opens and we both enter.  Because we’re at work early we both have to swipe our security pass or the elevator won’t go up.  I swipe mine first and press 5th floor.  Remember Mr. Grumpiness hands are full… he tries to swipe his security pass…and as god is my witness… he drops his pass and on the fly it drops between the elevator track and the floor…hurtling towards the basement.  He just stood there and stared in disbelief at this three inch opening.   I’m doing everything I can not to burst out laughing.  He finally realized this really did happen and walked out.  And as the doors were closing, I couldn’t help myself, I said out loud, “I guess you were right”.

Until next time



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Gord McCallum @gordmccallum Website Reply

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

David Bourgeois @Twitter ID Website Reply

I couldn’t agree more. Civility should be the rule. People’s personal space is also an interesting barrier to play with. More amusing as they physically reaction. Ha

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