Thursday, June 05, 2008

Good Manners Thursday...

On of my favorite etiquette books, Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm, is a really fun read because some of it is a little out-dated. It was written originally in 1938 and there are passages about proper dress and hygiene that sound funny in a day when women wear pants and often shower at least once a day if not more. However, some rules of grace are timeless. The book makes the point that it is nearly impossible to be charming if you are wearing uncomfortable, pinchy shoes. True. No?
It also talks about Gratitude without which there can be no grace or charm..
"There is scarcely an hour that passes in which someone doesn't do something for you. It may be the grocery boy. It may be the mailman. Most of all, it will be the people with whom you work and live. Do you stop to realize the humanity of these givers of good things that make your life comfortable? ... Are they mere scenery, something you paid for and so needn't be aware of? You can't afford to think so. Your attitude toward those who serve you reflects your attitude toward everyone else."
I think this is why Princess Diana was so beloved. She was not a perfect person, but she was a person of great social station who was famous for treating everyone beautifully. She comforted the sick, held the hands of aids patients and was famous for gratitude. Her thank yous always arrived the next day.
When I was little, I would watch how my dad treated waiters at restaurants and gas station attendants and the people who worked at the garden centers. Often they remembered his name because he treated them with such grace and respect for which he was rewarded with exceptional service.
One time my husband needed a car inspection done post haste. The car was borderline and we needed the car to last for six more months until we could purchase a new one. C took a box of donuts down to the guys at the garage and explained his situation. The car passed inspection just in time. He could have yelled and had a temper tantrum. That does work for some people, but why sell your grace so cheaply and burn bridges.
"'Thank-you' is a tribute, a recognition that we live by mutual aid and mutual consideration. Once you get this fundamental feeling that each of us lives by the grace of God and our fellowman, you will detect a new note in your thank-you. It ceases to be just a phrase. You stop wondering whether it is necessary to say it. It turns into graciousness and reflects itself in your every human contact."
Just a few weeks ago, I went to a new restaurant with some old friends. The waiter was new and quite enthusiastic, but very awkward for such a nice place. I was a little embarrassed for him. He kind of went on and on although he didn't quite seem to have his lines down. I was just a little bit uncomfortable. But, my friends all treated him as though he were the best waiter ever and what could have been uncomfortable in other company was a lovely evening. When I went home that evening, I was thinking how lucky I am... my friends are a lot like Princess Diana. :)