Single File, Please


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Dear Reader,

It’s a very simple request. You are an adult, now, albeit a college student and/or jogger. When, upon walking or running two or more abreast on the sidewalk, and being approached by a fellow pedestrian, please fall into single file to pass one another.

And a friendly nod and murmur of “Good Morning. Excuse me. Thank you,” wouldn’t be remiss, either.

How have we come to this? We’ve begun to forget the most basic things taught to us in grammar school. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Good morning. How do you do?

I believe it is because we are no longer looked upon with approbation when we remember our manners. There is no smile of thanks. In fact, the recipient of the kind gesture is more often than not (at least in my experience) a little shocked.

Try it. Say “good morning” while passing someone on the sidewalk. Or hold open a door to let the woman in back of you enter into the coffee shop before you. Hats are back in fashion. Do you know when to tip or even doff yours? You may be surprised at the reaction you receive in response.

If we have no positive reinforcement for good behaviour, neither are we subject to scorn or ridicule for forgetting the same. We’re all too busy to care. And frankly, how can we engage the person in front of us when we are in deep conversation on our cell phones? We are collectively retreating into the self-absorbed anonymity of the electronic and motorized world.

Please reengage with society.

Elegance begins with small gestures, performed automatically with no thought of material gain. Elegance begins with making a conscious choice. It can begin with a smile and a “good morning.” It certainly begins when you allow others to pass by on the sidewalk without forcing them to step into a tree well since you won’t step aside.

Thus endeth the screed.

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