Politeness: Warmth and Wax

“Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax,” or so says German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

It is a German proverb, and for me, epitomizes the emotion I feel when someone is polite toward me. To be shocked by politeness means that you don’t come across it too often.  Little things like, “Please.” or “Thank you,” or holding a door open, letting a woman walk before you into a room, or something as small as waiting for me to catch up, I’m short, this stuff matters, all melt me into a blob of submission. Not really, but close enough.

By jove she's got it! Is politeness a thing of the past? Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady had to learn good manners.

By Jove she’s got it! Is politeness a thing of the past? Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady had to learn good manners.

Is politeness so rare that it truly shocks us when we experience it in everyday life? Is politeness really a thing of the past? Is politeness known amongst the elderly only and not amongst the young?The answers to all of the above is, kind of, no and absolutely not!

I am shocked when I experience someone who is innately polite. It is part of their nature and is not fake, put on, or motivated by anything but kindness and consideration.

The people who I find to be most polite come from all ages and spectrums of life. Politeness is not a “class” extract; the upper classes are not more polite than the middle or lower classes. It isn’t something exclusively for those with money, those who are older or those who think they are better than everyone else. In fact, the majority of my experiences have come from younger people.

How to be polite

How to be polite

I am not a wilting violet. I am not one to get flustered over someone not holding a door open, letting me walk through first, but when it does happen, it is nice. What really impresses me is when people don’t shout down your opinions and respect your ideas. That’s the big winner for me.

Listening is also a skill that I believe is a huge part of being polite. Letting others finish their sentence before you jump in and interrupt is also a winner. Small things, but I watch for them and remember the people who display such acts of kindness, because that is what politeness is, an act of kindness.

When people say that the younger generation are impolite, it irks me. The most polite and delightfully open-minded and non-judgemental people are all younger than me. They respect each others’ opinions, remain open-minded about topics that they may disagree with and accept odd ball behavior with good humor. A nice trait because we are all a bit odd ball in one way or another; ok, me more so than you.

That sense of humor is helpful in keeping the mind open and not loosing your cool when someone is impolite to you. It happens, and from people you’d least expect to be rude. And now for my tale of woe about someone being impolite to me. Read on, you will be shocked.

Ahhhhhhh!!! Fresh air!

Ahhhhhhh!!! Fresh air!

It was a gorgeous day in early May. My son and I were driving out of the exit only area of our local grocery store’s parking lot. Remember now that there is a big sign saying “EXIT ONLY.” Our windows were all the way down to let the beautiful 75 degree air waft throughout my car.

As I steered my shoe box sized Mini-Cooper through the exit I had to pull all the way over to the right to avoid collision with a HUGE early 90’s Cadillac. The windows of that car were all the way down too. Behind the wheel was a small, shrunken and withered little old man, barely visible above the steering wheel. I was concerned that he was going to get hit, or that he would hit someone with his huge yacht of a car.

"You're welcome!"

“You’re welcome!”

“Sir,” I called through my open window, “This is an exit only Sir! It says exit only.”

The response: “Fnck you!”

Well don’t mention it and you’re welcome!

 How to Be Polite
 How to be polite to everyone

9 thoughts on “Politeness: Warmth and Wax

  1. You are absolutely right Lon! But, what do you do when it’s in your nature to want to bite back when someone is clearly rude/unpleasant???!!

    • It’s hard Trish, but what’s the reward when you do bite back, especially if it someone who is just an acquaintance? If it someone who is so close that you have daily interactions, chose your words carefully I suppose and let them know you are not a doormat. If it is complete stranger, move on, laugh it off. Sometimes the result is so much work, fighting etc, it just isn’t worth the effort, so just move on. Thanks for reading it all the way in Oz. xx Sean and I just lost it laughing at that old guy driving into the parking lot the wrong way last May. We looked at each other in complete shock and then just burst out laughing.

      • Yes, I’m learning with age and experience not to take bad manners/attitude personally! Not that I have many altercations with people/strangers..

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