I wrote to the Gleaner Editor yesterday, and they published it as Letter of the Day today. They edited out a suggestion I made in the original submission, so I will reproduce what they printed here and then add my suggestion after.
The Editor, Sir:
It seems that we have started to devalue the small gestures and acts of kindness that separate us from the animals. I was at the cashier in a major supermarket in Kingston last week Saturday. I noticed that the cashier made an error while ringing me up. She cashed three of an item when I had only one of that item.
I calmly questioned it. She did her due diligence, discovered the error and merely corrected it with nary an apology or a simple acknowledgement of her mistake.
We see regular displays of boorish behaviour in parking lots, where drivers deliberately swoop down on just-vacated parking spaces despite seeing a fellow motorist waiting for the same space. Think about your experiences in school parking lots. Parents stop where it is convenient for them to drop off and pick up despite the pleas of school administrations to adhere to strict zoning in this regard in order to preserve order, maintain a smooth flow of traffic and to ensure the safety off all using the space.
erosion of simple courtesies
Gone are the days when we would step into a waiting room and acknowledge those already there with a greeting. Why is it so hard to say ‘thank you’ to the security guard handing you a parking pass? Why do customer-service personnel feel that a smile while serving should never be part of the deal? The erosion of these simple courtesies is akin to running a motor vehicle without oil. The noise of metal against metal and the eventual decimation of the engine are inevitable results.
I personally resolve to be polite to those I come in contact with throughout the day and encourage everyone to do the same. We can do it. How wonderful it would be if Jamaica became known as ‘that island with the really courteous people!’
Furthermore, I would like to propose a national campaign, similar to ones of yesteryear such as “Don’t harrass the tourist”, “Kingston…Clean as a Whistle” and “Two is Better than Too Many”. This campaign could be sponsored by the private sector, complete with billboards, print and electronic media presence and of course, social media. Picture it: “JUST BE NICE”. We can do this.