Un-Common Courtesy

A curious comparison between people in New York and people in Texas.

One of the things I encountered over and over again during my nearly fifteen years on Long Island, was inconsiderate behavior in the grocery store.

Time and time again, I would make my way down the aisle of one of my local grocery stores, and I would encounter someone taking up the middle of the aisle where I couldn’t pass. (Of course, that’s not the inconsiderate part.) When I got closer and closer, the person blocking access did nothing. Not even an acknowledgment of the situation. Just a callous lack of consideration.

Having been raised in Texas where one hardly ever encounters such a lack of consideration, it would always get my attention.

This summer, having moved back to Texas, I experienced behavior that brought this curious comparison into bold relief.

My son and I were in a fireworks store in Weatherford, Texas. It was July 3 and the place was crowded! In such circumstances, you might excuse people for being rude and exhibiting an “I’m getting mine” mentality. But no excuse was necessary. No matter where I went in that store, pushing my basket (which tells you right away I’m in a different place. A basket in the fireworks store?), people were kind, aware of my need to pass, and proactive about making room for me—and doing it in a way that showed it was pure courtesy and consideration for other people at the heart of the action.

This for me is what is called common courtesy. It is actually far from common in a lot of places. But where I grew up, it’s just what you do.



Categories: How to Live

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12 replies

  1. I would agree, except it is more a Long Island thing, than NYS as a whole. My daughter lives “up state” and she tells me that even Road Courtesy is something she had not experienced “down state”, whereas by her it is the norm. It seems the farther away you are from the 5 boroughs, the nicer NY’ers seem to become.

  2. Yes, Scott. I agree. This difference is appalling when I come back to LI from upstate NY.
    It’s not even because of faith. Upstate is a spiritual desert! Like you said: common courtesy!

  3. Hummm as a native Long Islander I don’t wait for anyone to be courteous. I step and wait for that person to finish their shopping moment and then move on. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t. But each time I feel like I engaged in a real moment of courtesy. Thanks

    • Well, that’s ok. But you’ve missed the point. Good on you that you handle it in that way. It is doubtful that a selfish person who doesn’t care to make room for others will perceive that in some way you were courteous by allowing them to be selfish.

  4. You’re making me jealous! I wish I weren’t here in New York! Hope you and the family are well.

  5. Hi Pastor Scott! Hope this comment finds you, Penny and Grayson all well! I am happy that the folks in Texas are so polite! When you come back to visit, I will make every effort NOT to cut in front of you at the checkout line-haha!
    Love in Christ, your sister, Sharon

  6. Pastor Scott
    I miss you, your teaching and your humor. I was born,raised up in the Bronx, NYC,&I agree with your comments regarding courtesy in NY. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t relate my background in the FAMILY. Being polite and courteous was a given, that was just expected.
    As always, it begins in the home…..

    • You know what Kathleen, your point is well-taken. The other thing I say about. New Yorkers is that they can be surprisingly kind and helpful. It is a given that there are always exceptions to the rule and plenty of discourteous people in Texas!

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