The Simple Words That Change Distance into Substance

Ink on watercolor paper – Words: Emily Post

I was raised to have good manners. We were taught as children to say, “Yes Ma’am” and “No, Ma’am”, “Yes Sir” and “No Sir”, not only to our parents but to people in public spaces as a sign of respect. Words like, “Thank You”, “You’re Welcome”. “Please” and “Pardon Me” were all part of our vocabulary. If we did not use them properly our parents did not respond. This may sound old fashioned and yet I believe it has helped me greatly understand how to better get long with people, work with people, and show how much I value and appreciate their skills and service.

I was in a drive through ordering breakfast, and I said “Thank You” into the microphone then drove around. The woman at the window commented on my manners. She told me she rarely hears anyone say “Thank You” after she gives them their total. She thanked me for making her morning better. It was at that moment that I knew this Emily Post quote had to go with this story.

I ordered another thing and picked it up at the window, other people were standing around waiting for their thing. When my name was called the woman walked over and handed me the bag, I said “Thank You”. She smiled a big smile and went back to work. As I had waited for my item I noticed that she didn’t smile to anyone before me, and maybe not many people after me. My guess is very few people said those magic words, hence no smile.

Manners are an awareness, a way of showing kindness and appreciation for the people we encounter. Be it family, friends or strangers, having the same kindness for all people shows a respect and value to everyone who passes through your day. It’s not about having good manners or bad manners, it is about having the same manners towards all mankind no matter their station, job or position. It costs us nothing and can change the thought process and disposition of anyone. It tells them what they do matters, that we appreciate their service or efforts AND reminds them that they are important to someone who noticed them. In a global pandemic with Delta variants and prolonged separation a couple words have the power to change distance into substance, fear into thankfulness, and it may even remind those around us that ALL lives matter no matter where or how we encounter them.

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