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You know, my upbringing is something I probably often take for granted but there are always these little things which blow me away that remind me how lucky I’ve been and how much better I was raised than even people double my age, let alone my fellow 20 somethings.

What I’m talking about here is Please and Thank Yous. Namely, in the scope of the food service and customer service industry. Just because someone is standing behind the counter does not revoke their right to common courtesy.

It blows my mind when I’m waiting in line and someone comes up to the counter and says something like, “gimmie a bagel” or “I want a muffin”… and I stand there waiting, not only in line, but just waiting for a… “please”, saying it to myself.

Depending on the situation, I’ll glance at them with somewhat a questioning or disgust ridden look and say “please?” but unfortunately doing that seems to be pretty dickly and I don’t feel like ostracizing myself in addition to the fact that calling someone out like that (unless you’re training them, see below), I think overrides the courtesy in itself- they missed their chance to be nice and were a dick, but that’s no reason you should use it as an opportunity for you to be a dick (of course their are exceptions).

The whole time this is going on I hear in my mind my mom, my aunts or dad repeating the word for an eternity in my past as kid. Recounting every time I made a request without it. Whoever I was with would stare me down and say in a firm tone, “please.” And I would then, shamed and guilty, look at the person who I just ordered from and repeat, typically with a frail, embarrassed tongue, “please”.

Just like you teach a puppy not to bite, you teach a child his please and thank yous. It’s elementary and standard. No one likes a dog that bites, so who would like a person that didn’t have those standard social building blocks?

It kills me sometimes. It’s interesting too. Because typically I dislike the person who lacks the etiquette than feel bad for their lack of training. I think even if you missed the boat at home, by the time you’re in college you probably should have picked that up. Then, I really don’t like adults who miss out on the words, sometimes sensing a disproportional and unjust sense of entitlement in their face and air. You do know the person you are talking to is human. You remember the golden rule right? Do onto others…

Another excuse that doesn’t fly with this lapse is not being in a good mood. I heard this from someone once, I don’t know from who, but I know I heard this- something along the lines of, Taking out your bad mood on other people shows a lack of character- or to translate to a positive. It takes a strong, solid character to not take out your misery on others. E.g. You are having a terrible day and then getting short with the cashier at your local Dunkin Donuts. = Poor Character Maybe they got your order wrong? Ok, people make mistakes. Deal with it in a respectable manner and get over yourself. If you need to look at it in another way- no one is important enough to ruin your mood.

Another thing that this kind of tales towards is my theory behind food service (and customer service, but mostly food). It’s echoed a bit in the movie Waiting… ha, but none the less, here are some basic principles briefly outlined.

1. People who serve food or work are just as human as you are. = People are people too.
2. Never fuck with anyone who handles your food.

Using those two principles you should never have any problems, spit in your food, over priced meals or extra waiting time. Gathered there is the occasional rotten apple on the other side of the fence- meaning people with crappy courtesy serving you. But honestly, in my experience, that’s rare. People like that typically don’t find themselves in, or at least don’t last long in, the service industry.

Don’t be a dick
Start a conversation
Say please and thank you
Ask how they’re doing
Use common freaking courtesy… just think

And although you shouldn’t expect anything in return, because you should be nice regardless. Who knows, keep that up and you could end up with free meals, an extra scoop of ice cream or a new friend.

So, thanks mom and dad and aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins from brining me up right.

(I see my up bringing as a kind of communal experience with a medium size family as I have (3 older cousins, 3 aunts, 3 uncles, 4 grandparents, 2 parents) This whole talk about training also brings back those memories of the white stucco house and the steep back staircase going up into my Grandma’s house, it was so easy to run up the stairs in excitement and leave that now far away door open, just to be greeted by Zaidy, or aunt or cousin who would then ask me- “Hey, do you live in a barn?”)

Unless noted otherwise, all media and content copyright 2014 Adam Dexter. All rights reserved.