A trashcan at a food court in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The more I think about our kind, I see the complexity of our being. This morning for example, I went for my early walk, and saw this complexity unfolding. I am a hello, good morning person, so when I am walking and happen to see another of my species, I usually say the words. Many times, I get some kind of response – a smile, a gesture of a head tilted sideways with a subtle up movement, a hello or a good morning. Other times, I get nothing, a stern look, or a head down, avoiding eye contact. This has puzzled me for so long – why do people do this? Even animals, acknowledge other species, and theirs. This morning, I said Good Morning to a woman who was cutting some flowers, and who politely answered with a short and quick good morning, the kind with the absence of a smile. Later on, I said good morning to a man who had come out of his home and was ready to collect his garbage cans. He looked at me, as if I had just insulted him, and said nothing. As I walked further, I spotted a crossing guard who was walking to reach her morning post. I smiled, but instead met with the quick head down to avoid eye contact. Later on, I encountered two neighbors driving to their destination flashing smiles and waving. Thank God I’d just reached home and that was the last image I had on my mind – my happy neighbors – because I was beginning to feel a bit uninspired and yes, puzzled, about why people behave that way so early in the morning. I understand when people have had a rotten day, but so early?
It is true that we are living in a fast technologically “challenged?” society, and that we seem to “need more hours” to keep up the pace. However, we seem to have forgotten good manners while we spend the 24 hours we have. It seems to me that two very important words/phrases are almost nonexistent these days – GOOD MORNING (or Hello) and THANK YOU.
It may be my perception, but I seem to hear them less these days. It was very important to say Thank You or Good Morning, not too long ago, although it may seem another century, or as if these words have been relegated to retail pleasantries status. It puzzles me when a door is held or opened for someone, something is given, or someone takes the time or effort to do something for someone, even for a stranger, and these words are never said. As if the person at the other end was a ghost.
What has happened to us? Why are these words less important today than a few decades ago? I am not sure if the speed we live our lives has to do anything with it, or is it that our values have changed, and good manners are not important any more? Sometimes I get more thank you’s from automated systems/services or machinery than from human beings. It is not that I want to be thanked all the time, but more of a concern about “where is our kind headed.” A world where everything is taken for granted? One without gratitude? One where machines seem to have better manners than humans? Or are we there?
We all have our slip-offs and moments of “zombie awareness,” but when our hurried steps/lives become more significant than the generous acts of others (who happen to have the same 24 hours that we have), maybe it is time to stop the purposeless frenzy and think about how long has it been since we said the Ghost Words. By the way, Thank You for reading this.