Newspaper Page Text
THE SUN, SUNDAY, AlPRIL 28, 1912.
141 IS COURTESY Complaints of Rudeness at the Telephone and From People You Meet in Business or the Streets A Society for the Propagation of Plain Politeness Declared to Be a Growing Present Day Need "I 'M t hinking of starting a society for the propagation of plain polite new," wild n lawyer who was born nnd bred In Now York nnd has lecn practising hero for fifteen years. "I'll bet more thnn I over earned or over hope to earn that If I could got my society started It would do riioio to facilitate business than tho effort' of nil tho so-called Indus trial experts put together. "I'm not down on llio experts, either. They're doing wonders. Hut If you want lo got. a shock just nmilyw your own oiperienoo and see how much of your m time and, worse still, your energy and spirit are wasted just bucking against the unnecessary disagrocablo things of everyday llfo. "If you were running u lot of compli cated machinery you would lubricate it with oil, wouldn't you? You wouldn't use sand or brass filings or tucks, would you? But that's about what is done here In New York in running tho complicated machinery of dally llfo. "Kvorybody Is concerned in this ma chinery. But how many folks put a llttlo politeness In to make It go smoothly? On the other hand, how many are Inter fering by a thousand little and big acts that Irritate and discourage and dis gruntle everybody concernod? Why, hero's an example right In my morning's work. "I had occasion an hour ago to tele phone a man in connootlon with a case I am preparing. The girl at central took the number civilly nnd promptly. I'll make her an honorary member of my Hociety. Thoy'ro not all liko her but never mind ubout that, "In tho courso of time I heard over the wire nn inarticulate grant which proved to lio soirio sort of voenl oxorclso on tho part of the office boy of the man I wanted. I ii.-l;el for tho man. . "'Who's talkiu'?' demanded the boy. "I save ray namo. ' Vha' Jo want to speak about?' Well thero were several things I felt n burning desire to speak about at that minute, but I controlled myself nnd in t. mated that I had business with the em- ilorer of this nlensant youth. I was told . . 'lift .rii .....i t. ,i hVrdm other gru. t. Th s was", the office boy kind, but tho managerial fnrMd ,1,CUtrlnf wyi g quite plainly. I m a great big wonderful, howling piiuwcki u on luMivi.iiiai, i nui. ahu ii you want to do business with Mo you'll have to look lively nnd now whnt do you want.' "That makes you feel renl pleasant by way of a starter. But 1 asked my question nnd got another grunt by way of answer 1 couldn't make nut mote than a word or nro. so 1 asked again This time h" snapped bae'f at me that ho bail answered tll.lt quest inn nneo hereupon I re marked with niv last gasp of politeness that I hadn't e.iulit Ins reply Old li rcp''.it it mti Ihttiblv? Not on your life! He lo.ired it ill! I the iioni so that tlie receiver fulrly duueed, "Well, to make a long and painful atory short, we ended by cordially cussing eaoh other at great length nnd I slammed tho phone i nek on tho hook after wanting flf teen minutes of t Imo nnd enoiish energy to havo done half n day's plain work. Plain, common courtesy would havo mado that little business transaction go off amoothly In leas time than 1 wanted over It nnd both of uh would hnve been In good humor for tho next thing that came along. Chips on Their Shoulders. They talk about the high price of lumber. Why, If tho chips that Now Yorkers carry around on their shoulders wero tho real artlclo they couldn't cut off tho forests fast enough to keep up the supply. 1 spoko Just now of common courtesy. Common! We'll havo to chnngc that name. Courtesy Is getting to bo tho ran-st quality there Is in men or women either. If things keep on this way (Kjliteness will bo ns uncommon In Now York crowds as flowers blossoming on New York pavements. "Perhaps that Is pretty strong. I'm still In a slamming humor. But hon estly I am surprised by tho number of men that seem to havo no idea of living up to tho standards of ordinary good breeding. A stranger comes Into my office, for instance, and does not sen tit to remove his hat. Probably he Is dressed by a good tailor and tho hat to which he clings so persistently may corno from one of the best places. But by that one little omission he labels himself, nnd my attitude toward him is influenced In spite of mo. ".Some people would say that's n mighty small mailer, ur course It is, it s a grain of sand Instead of a drop of oil In tho machinery of everyday llfo. Tak ing off ono's hut la one of the things that havo made up what wo call common courtesy; and I don't caro who or whnt the man is. ho can't help running a llttlo more smoothly, other things being otpm!, when ho meets with polito treatment: i tho unobtrusive, instinctive politeness Uhlchisorusodtobensnaturnliis breath- Ing to n well bred man. Seriously , cour- tosv is on the wnno in vw V.irU nn,l ' wo nio navinc n cood rouiitl tir!i fnr 1 "oin wl,h"l,t ' t , i n- , . ' " 7 J' ' Plenty of other people seem ready to Join in n chorus Imwnlling the tendency relerred to y the lawyer. .Men nro not so teady to talk of it. partly beeaus.. they llll Hot, nnalJVH tlimr llllprehSHHIS ns women do. 'I hey don't have time tor it They accept n rough and ready existence more or l"ss ivirel-nlv. A good many of them even like a low. Oii" inun told ol Ins p.irMifr who, after having a verbal light with home on.. in Hi. morning, always felt ns lively ns a K.tiiii'i'ui'k ilm lest of tile dav I'm fnituuattly Hi" dillfleill stll(T in for th" light 1 i.it tner was in-.. In ol II" generally had lo Ii" hough anil he ilt-rlared Mllll ll IIUCIII"-. !!) y u is u r- liu'iu half what it would huso bu.u if uu had REALLY WANING IN NEW been associated with a man of good breeding and klndllneM. Other men besides the lawyer above 'I noted made the point that a great deal of the rudeness complained of to puzzling becaumi It Ik poor business. One man said that If a telephone attachment could bo invented by which a man at one end of tho wiro could knock down a man at the other end there would be a reform In one direction nnyway. "A cowardly boor take advantage of the fact that you can't reach him," this man declared. "I wish I knew Just Mara mm mm '0&STR UCT10SS&, I j , i whnt the wear and tear Is on telephone i that nro slammed on tho hooks, because ' ii... f . . 1 . 1 . , r . . ( " " um, u can veni, wiemseivcs. ii i couiu iiuvu in a bunch before mo tho smart offlco boj """' '" i""." the telephone I'd bo a regular Herod and order them slaughtered without a pang of remorse. "And then there's the box offlre boor, no's another man that takes advantage of his Impregnable position. Does he act as If ho was thero to serve the publio? I know certain box offices in this town that could Im recommended to rellovo tem porarily at least the worst case of retarded circulation that ever was. My blood bolls every time I have to deal with the fellow behind the window. "'11m other day I heard a woman In front of me stop a moment after she had bought her tickets at a certain theatre and say: 'I'd liko to thank you for your courtesy and attention. Both aro so rare nt bo offices that they are doubly appre ciated when one does receive them.' I I sow another woman at another window tnkn up ID siio had laid down for three seats nnd walk out after saying: 'You seem to bo under the Impression that you are conferring a favor in allowing mo to buy seats here. You aro very much mistaken. ' Courtesy Spells Success. The same morning I was In a shoo store ' w,1,'n two wo'nen camo in. One or them ,ol(1 V(lr' rly Just what she wanted. r,,'rk wi,h " supercilious air brought her H pair of shoes which oven 1 could ' see were no, what sho had asked for. I, 'T'1'11', 'Mu" a"ln 1 ?u ""T' "J'1 .V" "'T 'n 1 ' Xlny ',n- , ,, , UU manner became more , offensive, At last she said: 'You do not , K m,wiw. else.' Tim hw. "started seem to no for customers hero. I will . I..r ll,., ,!,., i,,,,l llw njil.umm rnmiirlir.,1 ,,, perf.vtlv nudiblo lone: "Hint's right; t uo ;,(. i you suppose tho women will ever go into thnt store again? Not i jr ,l(iy t MrPrIMt as an alter- ; native," woman who is earning her own living 1 nnd meets all kinds of neonle in the course of her work bad un interesting mirv to I ll "I have the most surprising experi ence,. " she nnd 'Courtesy isn't dead in Nrw c,rk by any mean but it i un cuuuuun enough to make it htaud out V t'tr THE" HAT THAT WOHT COME OFF pretty conspicuously when you do en counter it. I can generally tell the minute I go into an office what kind of men are at the head. The office boy is a pretty good gauge of tho manager. If the latter is a gentleman the whole atmos phere shows it. If ho isn't you will tind that his ill breeding has filtered down through the whole force. "It would seem curious If It wero not so logical that almost Invariably one meets with moro courtesy in tho big successful places than in the others. The fact is that courtesy makes for success more. I firmly believe, than utmost any other one factor in business. Nino out of tun per sons will respond to polite treatment. iThey will loosen up their pocketbooks, 'they will forgive mistakes, they will nd- vertlso you, they will become your devoted customer for llfo if you treat them with consideration and respect "Just take my own case. I sometimes have to encounter men who haven't sense enough or breeding enough to be polite to me. Well, they probably think they are playing tho big mogul to perfect ior.l and I can see them taking satisfaction in showing their power. But naturally I am an enemy from that moment and while I don't sit up nights thinking of n way ' to got even with them I generally am presented by un all wise Providence with an opportunity sooner or later. 1 am only one of probably dozens of persons who are in precisely tho same attitude toward them. Tuke Us nil together, we can do them a good many ill turns. And it isn't In human nature to expect that wo won't. Jn the Streets and Shops. -Thero are days when I don't seem to meet with anything but gratuitous dis courtesy from morning till night. Iuck lly idotrt get it in my homo. hich happen ..., .n ., ,.' ...i '., where the value of politeness is appreciated. It's an example of what 1 Kiid about the nttltudo of the management affecting tho whole staff. Everybody about tho place is at any rate courteous, and the con-r-equenco Is tnnt all sorts of other things aro forgiven and tho house i.s (Wed year after year by tho same people. "But I start out after breakfast feeling good humored and nt peace with every body! only to enter upon n series of irrita tions, most of them small, but nil together turning mo from a happy and friendly person wishing tho whole, world well Into a regular animated grouch. "I try to take a car. The motorman runs by about thirty feet and I think he Wn't uoinc to stop at all. I hen I sen that he has stopped, so I run after tho car. Tho conductor with his eye upon mo rings the boll to go ahead and exchanges a pleasantry with two or three men on tho platform apropos of my unavailing sprint "It Is suoh uncalled for, gratuitous rudeness that I can't help being angry. And whilo other experiences that come later may not be quite so direct thy all have their effect. "I am pretty-expert at threading street crowds, but I am constantly being jobtled and held up by men who try lo pas in front of me when it would bo juct as cniy for them to pass behind me. Th other day an elderly man drew back to let mo mako it u point after this to go to that pass, and the experience was so unusual particular place, In fact I think I'll find thnt I was tempted to stop and mako him out th" girl's namo and write to tho man a littlo speech of appreciation. I ilid 'iger about her. thank him, but that didn't seem adequate "Tim soda water counter, by the way, I fur a courtesy which, shuht ns it is, has . become uncommon in New ork (-treots, "As for th women, words fail me. I am not one of the is-ople ln talk about woman inhumanity to woman never seen muen oi mat. nut in ill" thousand little w.ivs in which they could show I'oiiilesy end cniisiilcnitinii to one another I think thoy nie F"iS M-mllly fiom had to v.ie. "I lint" wilh a consuimng hulled to go shopping, rot-h-ps ii m my Initios training but 1 e.inrish th idea th ii lht coin" should I o lit scrwd ll doe. n't M.eiulol.it.i popul.'l notion Th iiuiiil'cr of my ibter that dh up to a couulor TH- BOX. OFFCG BFAR. 4s. S ,ok VOCrDt and break right in ahead of the patient waiting ones Is amazing. "Sometimes they nr flatly snublcd by tho young persons Milnd tho counter and then 'my heart with rapture thrills. I rellect greedily on this as un evidence that at least tho saleswomen havo a dense of justice Not at nil! The next time the situation arises the intruder gets tho attention of the girl behind tho counter and I realize that unless I assert my rights I may remain indefinitely among those who only stand and wait. So I say politely: "'I log your pardon, 1 believe 1 was here first.' "Does It do any good' Mighty seldom. Occasionally the woman really didn't know sho was usurping any one's rights and she asks my pardon and waits her turn. Generally both she and the sales girl give me a withering look und expect me to shrivel. I appeal to tho floorwalker. Ho thinks I am a crank and tho salesgirl Is confirmed in her theory that tho woman shopper's one thought Is to mako trouble. Fifth Atenue Rudeness. "As far as I am concerned it seems to me I am pathetically eager to return cour tesy for courtesy, I went in to get an ice cream soda the other day and was served by a girl who was so pleasant and polito that I looked nt her in amazement nnd whe she handed me tho glass I said: 'That looks liko very good soda, but if it was quinine and vinegar I think I should enjoy it beci'ise your courtesy is so raro and so welcome.' Hlv laughed and I laughed, and I'm sure both of us felt in Iwtter spirits for tho littlo experience. Ami how it does pay! hv, 1 shall i the place to see whether women ore .well bred or not Most of them havo I no more Ide i of inking their turn if they eiin gel ahead of Hume one else than they I'wijhaui of treating the whole line. And , tne way liiov neirav tueir lacK ol lireeding la astonishing. They have children with them, fir Instance, whom they admonish continually to b careful not to drop imy - thing on lh"lr owuelothes.whilethey ullow .the- young liosfuls to llouri.ih spoon - fuls of chocolate sod i over your raiment without a wonl of i-iiutioii. - don't know what is t the root of It all, but I'm afi.iid l'ie trouble, goes right lack to the home. Mothers and fathers have grown careless about their own manners and tho children that are growing up aren't oven getting uny manners to bo careless about. Tin acts of courtesy I do meet are generally from older men Half crown boy and girls aro about as far along in that respect ns healthy young bear cubs. I do lovo a lear cub and I dollcht In boys and girls. But their manners are very much alike. "Take Fifth avenuo at tho promenade hour, or any other hour for that matter. These young folks parade up and down with a sublimo disregard for any one else's rights to even a modest fraction of the sidewalk. I've been bunted aside by young men and women of half my age and received not a word or apology, noi even a deprecatory glance. My father would have stepped into the street if necessary before he would have jostled women aside as I see young men doing every day. "And it isn't because they are under the necessity of doing it in order to meet some important engagement. They aro simply doing the avenue. They have all tho time there is. Out there is one thing thoy r9k 1 haven't, and that Is the faintest' glimmer ing of what courtesy Is. The girls aro as bad or worse, "The worst thing about it is this. Tho re.illy well bred man or woman doesn't do these littlo courteous nets to show off his or hor brooding; or oven, primarily, for the sako of othor peoplo. Thoy do it becauso thoy owo it to themselves. It Isn't what somo one olse Is going to think of you that makes you a gentleman. It is what your own self-respect demands of y.ou. The Test of Little Things. It Is probably true that there are mon and women who moot big tests all right nnd yot have no standards about small things. They don't think thoy aro worth making a fuss about. But when half tho pleasure of everyday living is spoiled by contempt for the small things it Is about as big a consideration after all as there Is." "Is murtesv ilrlnp rait In V Vnrlr?" auothor woman was asked. "Oh," she said, "I don't know that It's dying out. The troublo with New York is that thousands of peoplo havo blown In here from the four quarters of the globo who have nover had any training in man ners; at least not what you mean by m in- A QUAINT DUTCH CUSTOM Of the many quaint nnd curious cus toms, traditions nnd privileges prevail ing In Holland none In moro extraordi nary than u ctrtuln privilege that has been enjoyed by the boys of Amsterdam for nearly thres hundred years. At a fixed time each summer these boys gather by the hundreds In tho great square called the Dam, slttmtcd In tho centre of tho city. Kach boy has a drum slung over his shoulder. Facing this square In the Stock I'Jx- change, and, on the occasion In ques tion, lust ns soon ns the day's bmlncsu 1 1 ocr, ns many of the tioyn as can crowa into mo uiiiiuuig. Tliey pro- , ceed to the lloor of the exchnnKc, where pursuant to this odd custom they are 1 permitted In march about, singing nnd IbeHling upon their drums. ' Tho origin of this custom, It Is said, In as fnllowr: one nfteinuon In the enr 1S"2 a crowd of boys playing In the Dam lost ,. ball In the cunal that In thone days ektrted one side of the square. One of YORK?, new Courtesy Isn't dylnpfout with thra t hasn't been bon, that's nil. It just People coma to Now ork ntid'mak. a lot or money; or miiyiw they m.iU u first nnd then como. Thoy lire iii. . horse that feels Its ruts. The? ilnr'il know a fonco when they sen one. u,,,,! simply cavort gayly all over tI:oir lot! and yours and mine, mid run niu In the flower gardens of couvnitlmnli!. nnd traditions till they mako thing look like a county fair on tho tiny n fter Seriously, thow people think tliev -ir showing whnt erand folks tlinv r.. man that keeps his expensive hnt otih' I i .. . n: . . . ii.. , uo suu iiivw mi wti-wti nMiiy onltnvpa mat, no is advertising nis lmp:rtinm Of courso ho is advertising the f.irt ih-,i he never had a grandfather. If he rii,i why, that respected relative piokiblyj was of the kind that woro his hut at thf dinner tabic and didn't wear his cn.it "lou eco we re making some pi"Kteiw anrwuy. I ho present descend.iiit of said grandfather nt least keep.s h (.cut on oven If ho doesn't take his hat off ln time he will doubtless reach tlm ,nr neieni oi poinoncss oi nomg iioth, "You'll find that most of the penr; who mike the breaks are not, doln? It deliberately. You can trace It ImcW to their rnrly customs. There's th tmn who brings a stain stub of n eleir Into n car. Ocnorally he's a well dresf! man: looks prosperous nnd nil that lint I uppos ho was poor us Job not so very long ago nnd a cigar was a luxury not to be lightly regarded. He can't get orf the habit of economy he formed tbn So he victimizes everybody nrinm Mm by cherishing the ktub. t Smiles When Snubbed. That sort of thing runs nil throuch one's experience. Oh, yesl I get em voked plenty of limes but I, have sows compensation. It makes mo e hi superior when I havo lioen courteous tn somebody and havo been Miuhhed lor my pains. I've developed a system ol rrt.ili.t- j tlon that doesn't hurt any one and thit affords mo amusement. Tor inst.nire I havo a habit of saying 'Thank yoii' to a saleswoman when she gives nm my parcel and change. I simply do it un consciously. Occasionally the e,irl hrrwlf says 'Thank you' nnd then nil is well. "But I confess that it pretty generally happens that I, who am paying my money and am supposnd to be tho ono who is conferring patronag", am a solo per former on tho 'Thank you' stop, Th.-n I hesitate and look expectantly nt tin girl. Sho is puzzled; perhaps nsks ir my 'chango ain't right' or if that 'ain't my parcel.' I say 'Oh, yesl' but continue to look expectant. "If she asks me what I am wait ins for I smile to myself and say indulgently: 'For something which you do not hive ' Then I turn away, leaving her to worry i over it. Even if it doesn't come to mv" making that llttlo speech I retiro with a lingering look of smiling pity, which I can see is most diostrous to the youn1; ( person's self-satisfaction. "You've no idea how tho Fchemo work. Why, car conductors that wero ns un pleasant to mo as a hyena when I got on havo become so tamed that they would have eaten out of my hand by the tim I got off. And tho beauty of It is I don't liavo to do anything but smilo nnd loo'.; pleasantly superior1. I lovo to do both, so that is tho role for nw, "It's splendid too in case of people who talk loud in publio placos. Tho people are not really discourteous to th- v other folks around. (. f course It's dis turbing and ono hates to be in that at mosphere, but it isn't anything you can actively resent. But if you can let them discover you to bo amused, pityingly amused, they quito collapse." j "But what," demanded tho reporter, "what can you do when people are rude to you on the street? You can't hold up traffic while you upply the pitying smil treatment." "No," sighed the woman. "It won't work thon. And if you drivo me to tho wall I will admit that thero are other times when It is a broken reed. I've tried it on hotel clerks with such con sistent lack of succors that 1 believii they must havo been Inoculated againi-t It. Do you know 1 expect to livo to a good old age, but if I should last a hun dred years I should nevertheless carry some unsolved mysteries with mo to my timelv uruvo. Ono of them is why h manv hotel clerks act as if they wero in a I pest house anil wero nobly trying to dis j courage you from staying around th uwful place. ' "Another Is why n box offlco man thinks j it a sign of insanity, idiocy or crankinc-n in a woman when sho wants to know whether tho seats ho fs soiling her ar-i j in A or Why do nil stout women make an urm rest of you when you sit next thein in tho theatre? Why do men read tho newspaper in crowded cars with out folding it, so that their arras won't spread out like windmills? "Why do peoplo who bring their wet umbrellas into cars hold them ngains-t your clothes iustead of against their own? Why docs no one ever step to tha back of nn elevator except when it i empty? Why but what's tho use? "Perhaps if I do livo to be a hundred tho common courtesy that I say hasn't been born yet among thousands of Niw Yorkers will havo como Into existence, and all theso problems will cease to be. I I'm worrvine about iust ono thing. in afraid that in tho tneantimo 'Thank you and 'Excuso mo' and 'If you please' will become entirely obsolete. I can just hv.ir my great-grandchildren wioutnig my Oi)-year-old ears: 'Say, gram, wlut wub it you used to say when you wan'"d anything and when you got it V " the lads, while climbing In r.nin:r; ' f plies on which tho building stoou i' 1 Instead of hio ball n boat muor 'il i i dark corner nnd loaded With bov " gunpowder. This nhowed clearly t i'-n what wuh f.ftcnvnrd nuceiinlmil ' certainty, the Intention of the Span "!' jonsplratotH to blow up the h'ineU !' chance while It wns crowded, ns It w.il ever day, wltli the leadlirj clllz1 iis f tho city. Tim boy who stumbled upon the ev.-i- powder nt onto hurried to the authorities with bis newii. TIP' load of explosives was quietly sunk the c.iual nnd the Spanish plot ll1 frustrated. When the burgesses nskrd the 1 what rewind be desired for tlii f r lie hud rendered tho town he 11 "1 that so long ns there was n Stm' 1 i biiuit" In Amsterdam the bn s t t w town would like to be permit!) I loie)k tlie floor of tho exchange tte' I ground during a cumin par' ,,f ? year. The requist was smiled ati'l the curtuin kurtlvva. I i