With all of the tragedy and depressing news lately, I find that writing my column has become difficult. I try to recall past events of my childhood but I find myself drawn back into melancholy. But then my husband reminded me of why I do this column. We were both raised with “It takes a village” mentality. We were taught manners and etiquette at home and were expected to use those skills when we were in public. If we chose not to conduct ourselves with said behaviors, friends, family or complete strangers were more than happy to step in by proxy and provide the needed discipline. We also learned fairly quickly not to report such incidents to our parents because we would be punished again for being disrespectful in the first place. These lessons have been ingrained into our nature.
When my husband was about six he was running around Safeway being anything but well mannered. An employee at the time, Ernie Lemons, finally had enough. He grabbed up Bruce by one arm and selected a spatula off the store shelf and proceeded to wail the tar out of the little hellion. Bruce never said a word. But he maintained a certain decorum while in the store after that. Especially when Mr. Lemon’s was working. Years later Ernie was applying for a city position to fill his golden years. Bruce noticed that Ernie acted reserved around him. Finally, Bruce asked Ernie if there was an issue to which Ernie replied, “Are we ok?” Bruce was confused. “Of course”. Ernie thought that his impromptu correction would cause issues with their work relationship. Bruce told Ernie that the punishment was deserved, which it was, but Bruce kept a watchful eye out for spatulas.
Even after all of these years, those lessons continue to hold true. My husband posted a meme on social media. Perhaps it was a tad on the questionable side, but he found humor in it. A childhood friend’s mother was not amused and proceeded to let him know about it. All he could muster was, “Sorry Mrs. Walters”.
I too have been the recipient of adulthood reprimands. My mother always told me that if you use bad language, it becomes a habit. And that habit will manifest itself in the most inopportune times. I was picking up my parent’s lunch and stopped to visit for a moment. During the conversation, I slipped. Well to be honest I fell face first by dropping the ultimate, mother of all swear words. And at first, I didn’t even realize that I had done it. That was until Mrs. Geisinger abruptly scolded me. My hand flew to cover my remorseful mouth. “Please don’t tell my mom”, I stammered. Her disapproval was clear as she looked over the top of her glasses. “Sorry Mrs. Geisinger”. I guess the lesson learned is that good manners never go out of style. Even at my age.