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Mommy Musings Rediscovering Pleasantries
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When did it become okay for us all to be so rude to one another? This is a question I found myself asking after a stop in a convenience store for a simple bottle of water. With my son in tow I approached the refrigeration section only to be greeted by the backside of a woman dutifully lining up all the water bottles. This was her job; she was making a delivery and checking her inventory. After a short glance over her shoulder at my son and I patiently waiting for her to move, she continued what she was doing.

After a few moments I offered an 'excuse me' and pushed past, explaining that I just wanted to grab a bottle of water. The woman sighed and appeared annoyed by my aggressive nature, I also like to think of as ... shopping. Remember us? The customer, the person who comes in to buy the water, which gives you a reason to restock it.

These were the words, which filled my head and tickled my tongue as I found myself resisting the urge to school this person on how we should treat one another.

As I sat in my car and journeyed toward town to deliver my son to school, this account played again and again in my head. Where did we go wrong, I thought. Has technology taken us so far that we now have no common sense and courtesy when faced by another human being?

As I traveled and thought - all while trying to stay engaged with my four-year-old who just wanted a snack - something profound occurred to me.

Perhaps before I start cleaning the homes of others, I should look at my own. I realized during this moment of reflection, that I had behaved the same way with a co-worker. Someone patiently waiting to use a computer I was on, or the copy machine I utilized. Thoughts in my head at the time of 'they can wait, I have stuff to do.' As I finish this sentence I am embarrassed and ashamed, what has happened to us.

When did we all decide it was just easier to be short, curt and rude - than kind, patient and polite? This question plagued me for what was the better part of the morning, sort of like the annoying fly that circles your head and you can't seem to catch.

Then in the middle of nowhere, somehow I learned a valuable lesson.

The actions of that woman I cannot change. The person who cuts me off on the road, or drives around me dangerously as I try to leave a parking space, also actions I cannot change. I can, however, change my actions and reactions.

Greeting people when I first see them in the morning or throughout the day. Once upon a time, it was considered proper manners to greet someone when they first entered a room. Now, we barely nod and then lead right into a statement of what we need or want from them. I'm guilty of this. Caught up in my agenda and to do list and absent of my manners - this is not okay.

At the end of the day it is really all basic stuff we all learned as children, yet somehow lose sight of as we become busy 'important' grown-ups. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

One simple sentence, which somehow so many of us get too busy to remember. Sometimes it seems doing the wrong thing, behaving in the wrong way is so much easier than taking the time to be the better person.

This of course brings it all back to that four-year-old I had in tow on that morning in the convenience store. My son, the person who watches my every move and absorbs my every word (whether I realize it or not). At this pivotal and important time in his life I am his role model. My actions, reactions and behaviors will ultimately affect and help form who he is.

It is this thought, this reality and this tremendous responsibility, which now has me 'cleaning my own house' and working hard toward being more kind, patient and ultimately pleasant.

Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.