Summer is gone. Fall is here. And that means it’s time to clean up the garden and my email inbox. Both are overflowing. Readers often send me thought provoking and fun stuff that I keep until I find time to pass them on. Lately, my inbox has been full of reminders of the practice of old fashioned manners. Lucky you! Here are some to ponder…
“First impressions make lasting impressions” was drilled into me as a child. I was taught that a first face-to-face introduction spoke volumes. Today, impressions are also made by what you say online in emails or Facebook. Yes, it’s still important to dress well and be polite... but how far will that get you when people only know you by what you say on the Internet? That’s a whole different set of manners that we’ll talk about another time.
Those of us of a certain age often wonder what happened to the “Yes, Sir” and “No Ma’am,” environment that we were raised in. Using those titles (without sarcasm!) is still a sign of respect and that hasn’t changed. It is always best to address others respectfully at that first introduction. Military personnel set a good example for us all. I must admit that some of my friends think it is too formal and old-fashioned thereby betraying their ages. That doesn’t bother me.
“Thank you” or “You’re Welcome” are never out of style. We were raised in the same generation if you have ever been annoyed by a sales clerk’s attitude who hands you your change from a transaction and says, “Here you go!” At some point in the last few years, the phrases “Yep,” or “No Problem” also started. Where did they come from? They suggest that your business was no big deal. The phrases thank you and you’re welcome allow customers to feel like their business is appreciated.
“Here’s what’s happening.” I like this form of communication. It can be used not only at work but within families, friends and neighbors. It is a meaningful exchange of information. It means you’re not being left out of the loop or having to rely on rumors to guess what is going on. It is true communication. It shows respect and consideration without being condescending.
“How can I help?” Again, this is a respectful form of communication. People don’t like to ask for help. But if we see that someone has a need, we can be proactive and suggest that we are ready, willing and able to help them through a rough patch without dictating what we think they need.
“I’ll find out.” Sometimes we have questions that we cannot answer alone. Knowing that someone is going to go out of his or her way to team up with us, relieves tension and warms our hearts.
But enough of manners. On the lighter side, a number of people send me interesting questionnaires that I can never answer. The questions usually begin with “WHY?” Here are some for you to ponder. The answers follow.
Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called passing the buck?
Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?
1. This comes from the French word m'aidez (meaning 'help me’) and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.'
2. Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
3. In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.
4. Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the Centre of attention.
Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called ‘pygg.’ When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' An English potter misunderstood the word. He made a container that resembled a pig.
Thanks to all who contributed to today’s column. Now we all have been reminded of our manners and why we have piggy banks! Oink. Oink.