Hats Off—Antlers too!

Civility is all about how we can live in community together, treating one another with respect and courtesy.  As the population density of our planet increases, civility becomes an even more essential component to our getting along.  While we’re sometimes tempted to ignore the madding crowds, our awareness and consideration of those in our midst can make life a lot more enjoyable.

When we think of densely populated areas, cities frequently come to mind, with high-rise apartment dwellers and sidewalks teeming with pedestrian traffic.  However, consider a stadium, concert auditorium, or movie theatre; compactly seated, side-by-side in outstretched rows, we find ourselves in pretty tight quarters, whether the venue is in New York, or Montana.

Last week, for example, I attended a lecture, a concert, and a movie.  At the first event, a woman seated in front of me had gorgeous puffy silver hair, which I might have admired, had it not been for the large red hat that she wore off to one side, in effect, doubling the size of her head.  By the end of the lecture, my neck ached from craning to peer around it, which is why, two days later, I avoided sitting behind a patron wearing festive reindeer ears at a holiday concert.  (Even branches are distracting!)  And although I was not seated in close proximity to another attendee sporting a hat the size of a small hassock, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on inside that person’s head, given what rested on top of it.

I finished the week by going to a much-anticipated movie where, once again, a lack of consideration for others was evident.  Fortunately, most of us heed management’s request to turn off cell phones, cease texting and e-mailing, and to not talk during a performance so that others might hear.  (It would also be nice to hear “excuse me” and “thank you” when viewers climb over my seat in order to get to theirs.)  What frosted the cake on this particular occasion, however, was the latecomer who stood directly in front of me, blocking my view of the movie, for more than a minute while he “settled in.”  Although I kindly asked him to sit down, he took his time doing so.  As soon as the closing credits began to roll, he did the same thing.

Our regard and consideration for others can often be expressed in very small gestures; those small acts, however, can make a very big difference.




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