Though disability is in this post, this post is not about disability. Sometimes when 'disability' is in the story, it takes control of the plot and can demand more attention than its due. There, that's done, now on with the post.
I want to present three short scenarios of my day out today. I want you to think about the people I describe. Note the words you use to describe them in your mind. Here are the three things that happened:
We decided to go over to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Beethoven exhibit, which Joe and I decided we weren't either bright enough or cultured enough to truly understand, but the drawings were, this will seem like damning with faint praise but it's not meant to, nice.
We were waiting for the elevator and the door opened, it was full of a very large family. They poured out, all talking excitedly about dinosaurs. The father was the last one out, he stepped out, stopped, turned, and held the door open for both Joe and I to enter. We said, 'Thanks!' He said, "I'm glad to do it."
On our way to the grocery store, Joe went up a few steps towards the door as I headed to the ramp. We always do this. I was heading east and a couple, a young man and a young woman, noticed, at the same time I did, that we were heading for a crash. I slowed up to let them pass, she smiled broadly and said, "Thanks," she hurried her boyfriend across my path and turned to wave another quick acknowledgement of my giving way.
In the grocery store, I was heading to pick up some tomatoes, I spied them and when I turned towards them I found that the store had moved a display over a few inches and I couldn't pass. A clerk walking by saw me begin to back up. She called out, "Hold up a minute!" She grabbed the display and showed what hours of working in the produce department did for strength, heaved the display back into place. As she moved it she said, "It must have been shifted when they cleaned last night, sorry." I thanked her, she accepted my thanks saying, "No, really, it's not a problem."
OK, now think of the words that came to mind when reading about these three people. I wonder if you used words like I did when these things happened.
"What a nice guy!" I thought about the dad.
"What an extremely pleasant young woman!" I thought about the girlfriend.
"What a great attitude!" I thought about the clerk.
But then I thought. "Hold up, here, wait a minute." Has it come to pass that simple civility is so noteworthy, so exceptional to be raised into characteristics to be lauded? Has it come to pass that common decency in interactions is so rare that it is treated as exceptional? Aren't we all SUPPOSED to behave that way to each other, showing courtesy and consideration? Isn't there a kind of social contract that we all have with each other that ensures that we all treat each other as if we all matter?
These things aren't KINDNESS and the people who did them aren't KIND, and their behaviours aren't NICE ... and they are only considered to be because the bar has dropped so low that anyone who shows even a teensy weensy bit of sociability and good manners is considered to be worthy of sainthood.
I liked running into people who remembered how to be people with other people.
I just don't want to accept that this is exceptional because, by doing so, I am giving up on the belief in a society built on something more that selfishness and greed. And, though sometimes I am ready to throw in the towel, I have days, like today, where I'm reminded that there are those who remember the fine art of civility.
The 'test' was to see if A) you thought these people extraordinary like I did and B) if you think that's sad.