Saturday, January 15, 2011

All I want is the wave

Walking down Elmwood today was not a treat. At about 11 a.m. the wind was howling, the snow was swirling and the slush under my boots made it treacherous to walk. I was picking my way carefully across the street because I'm still scared that I"ll slip and re-injure my Achilles tendon.

As I made my way down the sidewalk a woman in a station wagon was trying to pull into a parking garage. She wanted to pull in front of me so I stopped and gave her the signal to go ahead. OK, so you get the picture: Me standing in the cold and snow, her in the warm station wagon. She completed her turn. Do you know she didn't even LOOK at me, let alone give me the little wave I was expecting. She just kept driving. I mumbled under my breath as I trudged along. 

A few years ago at work we started a campaign called "Courtesy Counts".  I work in Human Resources so this is the kind of thing we do.  The idea was to reward behaviors that were courteous. Simple things like replacing the toilet paper, making a pot of coffee when the pot was low, not walking away when the printer was out of ink. It was an attempt to make our co-workers understand that we're all in this together so let's try to make work as pleasant as possible. Today there is still a sign in the cafeteria that says "Your mother doesn't work here - clean up your own mess". 

As I walked along I wondered why the little wave was so important to me. What did it really signify? It's not just 'thanks' - it's more a recognition that we are in this together and that your needs are no more important than mine. It's also a reassurance that the 'giver' is not regarded as the 'maid'. When I don't get the wave, I feel like the hired help.

My son reminded me of this the other day when he was praising his father's cooking. He's been away at school and may have missed some of the delectable dishes that Bill concocts. I had, once again, taken his culinary skills for granted.  " All he wants is a little thanks, mum. It's so easy to do".

Yes, it is.

1 comment:

  1. Liz, I think about this a lot -- these waves are in kind of short supply. Today on Kenmore Avenue I was in my car, but I stopped to let a driver make a turn, and the oik turns ahead of me and never waves. As if it's his right. This happens all the time. It's too bad. Fie on the lot of them. Fie!