I noticed a little sign in my town the other day that had a big message: “Politeness has now become so rare, some people mistake it for flirtation.”
Those of us of AARP age get that. If you’re under AARP age, chances are you may not. Here’s the secret to the plot. In a time when civility has been trumped by cool, traditional courtesies like opening a door, offering someone your seat, or striking up a conversation often seem intrusive. You can almost read their faces: “Hey, old man, what’s your problem…!”
I speak from experience as I shop our local supermarkets and retail stores. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve lived in Park Ridge 45 years, this being my only real complaint. A complaint I fear pretty much fits any town or any city these days. What guys like me call civility, busy shoppers and burdened mothers may look at as “getting too friendly,” “crowding my space,” or “endangering my child.”
OK, I get it! You’ve got good reason to be cautious, to be guarded, and for some of you second amendmenters to pack a gun. But come on folks, a smile doesn’t have to be a snare, and a compliment needn’t be a come-on. As a former educator I understand perfectly well why teachers can no longer hug a kid, and as a man I can no longer pass a flattering remark about what you’re wearing…
…but dammit, Park Ridge isn’t Kabul and not every guy with a beard is a terrorist. So lets get a grip here, and try to remember there really is some innocence still left in the world.
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