This morning the family and I went to Starbucks. I was not looking my best: the events of the past few days had caught up with me. My hair was not neat, and at the best of times I am nothing special to look at. I was wearing an older shirt (all my nice clothes were being laundered after our trip East so that I could turn around and go back for Jack’s funeral) and while I did not look disreputable I was certainly no fashion plate. And, quite frankly, I didn’t care.
As I left, a casually but nicely dressed woman came to the door pushing a stroller. (I wished I had looked that put together when I had small children.) As I always do, I held the door open for her. I hold doors open for people, regardless of gender, and have taught my kids to do likewise. I think it is simple good manners, and treating people like I would like to be treated.
She looked me over, compressed her lips, and without a word swept (there is really no other word for it) through the door, not even looking back. It has been a while since anyone treated me that rudely, especially when I was doing her a service.
After her trailed a small girl in a plaid coat. She was about five and immaculately dressed. Before she went through the door she turned, looked me straight in the eyes, and quietly and respectfully said “Thank you.” “You’re very welcome,” I responded.
Somewhere along the way, that child learned manners. I only hope that the woman was not her mother, and that whomever she is she does not manage to destroy that child’s behavior. My kids may not have been the pinnacle of appearances, but they have always been polite.*
*My favorite polite kid story: when Railfan was about twelve, we were entering Starbucks (Saturday morning coffee is a family tradition). A couple who looked in their early twenties pulled up. The young man got out of the car, slamming his door behind him, and sauntered into the building. Railfan walked over, and opened the car door for his girlfriend, and then opened the door to the Starbucks and stepped back so she could enter before him. She walked up to her boyfriend and said “There’s a kid who will know how to treat his girlfriend when he grows up.” The guy glared at Railfan, but, really, he had been shown up by a twelve-year-old. (Railfan is also the person who stays behind to keep people at the back company (usually me, as I walk slower than everyone in the family), and asks others to wait up.)