Saturday, October 15, 2011

Courtesy is a Very Good Thing

UPDATE: Now includes Home Improvement audio clip!
UDPATE: In trying to add said audio clip, this post got re-published with a new date. I don't know how to fix that. Sorry. I don't even know what date I originally published it.

This is a dung beetle. You don't really want to be a dung beetle, do you?
Source: Wikipedia
Last week I was staying in a hotel. I was also miserably sick (remember the plague I mentioned?) and decided to slip into my ratty pyjamas (hey, I was staying alone) and order room service rather than sharing my toxic self with all the other diners. I called down to the restaurant, ordered and said that I would like to charge the meal to my room. Simple, right?

Oh, you naive sweet things who hold out hope for humanity ...

They asked if I had "the green slip." [Insert "Home Improvement" Wha-UH? tune.]

Apparently, the front desk was supposed to have given me a little slip of paper indicating that I had a credit card on file for incidentals. I don't think I have EVER registered at a hotel without putting a credit card on file. (I mean, except that one time we were only staying by the hour, but this was not that kind of hotel, so I was confused.) [Update: Just kidding. I've never stayed at a by-the-hour hotel.]

I explained that I was in my pyjamas already, and she could tell by my barely audible voice that I was sick, so she agreed to contact the front desk herself to confirm that the guest in room 313 [Hmmm. Just noticed the unlucky room number. Could that explain the catastrophic health repercussions for both me and my computer?] sorry - to confirm that the guest in room 313 had a valid credit card on file. It was a courteous thing for her to do and I was grateful.

Disappointingly, I was not feeling any better the next night, but I had forgotten to stop at the front desk for the valuable green slip - I was in such a rush to collapse onto my bed. After a nap, I ordered room service again, forcing gasping words through my constricted throat, but this time the Dining Room Nazi refused to make any concessions for me. I ended up calling the front desk and gasping my request, who then delivered the coveted chit to my room. I called the dining room again and raspily [Blogger says "raspily" is not a word. Wha-UH?] confirmed that I was eligible to bill the meal to my room.

Then I hacked up a lung and collapsed into a puddle on the floor by the door, waiting for the food. I ate my meal when it came and determined that I would not stay at that hotel again as their customer focus was not up to snuff. (I had also been punted off an elevator earlier at this hotel, by a staff member.)

All of this is not to whine (well not JUST to whine), but to illustrate why I'm such a big believer in courtesy - being nice to each other. I think it is the sweetener in civilization. Things like:
  • Leaving a little extra room between your car and the one in front of you so other drivers can merge in.
  • Holding the door open for the person behind you or holding the elevator for someone who's racing to catch it.
  • Passing the sugar bowl to the person who just received his cup of coffee - without being asked.
  • Wiping the bathroom counter.
  • Stepping to the side so others can pass.
  • Anything listed on the list of 25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9
These little courtesies make such a big difference!  They take almost no effort to give, cost nothing most of the time and can affect someone's mood - and consequently the mood of the next person they encounter. I know, it's trite. It's the old "pay it forward" meme, but evidently some people haven't heard it yet.

The flip side, of course, is that I really hope karma (in the colloquial sense, not the real Hindu sense necessarily) is real. People who do the following things should come back as dung beetles:
  • Drivers who cut off other drivers or zoom ahead and cut in when there is a long line waiting.
  • People who refuse to walk single-file on narrow sidewalks when there are oncoming pedestrians.
  • People who don't clean up after their pets or children.
  • People who commit the offenses referred to in this post.
  • People who intentionally hurt other people.
So, go forth into the world and be nice to each other lest you pass your next life as a dung beetle.

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