grace (n) disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy or clemency.
Today’s lesson, boys and girls will be all about grace–good manners.
Once upon a time, there were manners classes–etiquette if you will. But now, there are no standards and many of society’s most ignorant boors simply make things up and proceed as if all of society has agreed with the things that are typically only in the minds of one or of a small group.
Where customer service was once the goal of every business, tipping customer servants has gone off kilter with it. Some of us tip well even when the service is poor, while some of us tip poorly or not at all, even if the service is great.
The age old stereotype is that African Americans are among the worst tippers, and whatever the case may be, we need not enforce the stereotype by showing poor social graces when dining out or otherwise receiving service in public. If there is a problem with service, let the person providing the service know, or inform the management. Otherwise, a decent tip should be added to the bill if the service is good.
I realize that some of us refuse to tip because we are opposed to shelling out extra money in addition to paying for the service provided. But even if you don’t agree with the concept, you must understand that refusing to tip will only make it difficult for social venues to be interested in hosting African American-oriented events.
Tipping is a gracious way of letting the establishment providing service know that you appreciate good service. We need to consistently send the message that African Americans appreciate good service too.
You see, if we socialize and claim to be civilized, showing grace helps to keep up from reverting to chaos and anarchy.
For example, why would anyone expect to attend an event and eat for free, drink for free and not show some kind of appreciation? No one is obligated to wine and dine you for no reason. Therefore, if you are invited to a friend’s home for dinner and show up without even a bottle of wine, or if you are invited to a birthday party and show up with no gift, you should not be hurt when the invitations stop.
It’s not ass-kissing to take a small gift to the boss’s home when invited for holiday dinners or a minimum of flowers for the in-laws when meeting at their home for the first time.
In a perfect world, people who sneak into wedding receptions would be beaten and tossed out. The families are already burdened with enormous expenses without having the added financial burden of last minute meals for people who either didn’t RSVP or worse, weren’t even invited.
And, ladies, how much sense does it make to go out for a night on the town with expectations that men will buy you drinks? Such an expectation is one thing, but to ask men, or even demand that they buy drinks for you, or worse, for your friends as well is just poor social behavior.
Let’s say it together: Nothing in life is free.
Some of us are confused on the concept of supporting our friends who are in business. Your presence is not always enough. A business is shooting for profit, therefore, stop asking your friends if you can get in the club for free, if you can read a “spare” copy of a book, bring a few friends to eat for free at your friend’s restaurant or otherwise mooching instead of showing support.
If my friend or family member is in business, it is my esteemed pleasure to show up early and pay the full price. It is also good grace to invite others who will do the same.
While some may argue that chivalry is dead, few want to admit that the lack of two simple words have ushered chivalry into its current ill state: “Thank you.” From city to city, I have conducted a simple social experiment which I urge any of you to conduct or to observe–I hold the door for ten or more women and examine how many say “thank you,” or even bother to acknowledge the courtesy. I also observe how many men bother to hold doors–the numbers in both categories are few.
You see, part of courtesy is having the good graces to acknowledge a courtesy delivered to you and, really, how many times do we forget to say “please” and “thank you,” or “you’re welcome?”
Emerging technology has brought with it emerging offenses against good social graces.
Many of us have been using email for at least ten years, so one would think that most of us would know that including someone in a mass email without their permission and/or without a way for them to get off of the list is in poor taste. So is attaching huge files to one hundred people you don’t even know.
It is also bad manners to send your religious views to people who didn’t ask, don’t want to hear it, and who can’t avoid it, because you won’t stop sending them.
And of course, you knew I would mention the assholes who email writers to tell them how wrong they are, disrespecting them while trampling on their privacy rights and expecting them to do anything but retaliate. It’s one thing to disagree, but it’s poor etiquette to disagree with insults and attacks, while still expecting the person to be gracious.
A group of hostile angry wenches on GirlHome@GoogleGroups.com disagreed with what I wrote about men in drag (“Diary Of A Mad Black Man”). A failing in social grace gave these idiotic heifers the idea that they could send me stupid, loopy dissents rife with illogical expressions and redundancies, insults and asininities, and still have the nerve to expect politeness and respect in return.
The debacle with them began when one anonymous cranky wretch using email@example.com called me a self-hating Negro and a slave with an unstable identity for my views on Tyler Perry’s dress-up gig, and then acted shocked and appalled when I blasted her. “What did you expect,” I asked her, “for me to invite you to tea and cookies?” She then sent my response to her gang of ignoramuses, who all began to email me furiously with their rancor over blasting her, until I reported them to Googlegroups.com. I have also reported them to the authorities because their actions are now criminal in addition to just plain ill-mannered.
Drivers won’t let each other pass and they fail to thank each other; people go straight to assumption and insult before understanding; people curse at others while expecting that everyone else will take the high road; and everyone wants something without giving up anything in return. Many of us spend our time demanding that others act with grace toward us without understanding that the person may be acting without grace because they saw no grace to begin with.
The bottom line is that in order for us to have more peace and understanding, we must first have more grace.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at firstname.lastname@example.org.