When I was younger I worked for a year at a financial publishing house in Blackfriars, London. I did not have a high-powered job, I was the day receptionist. It was my duty to know who worked in each department, to keep track of the leavers and the starters, to answer the busy switchboard often ringing off the hook with international calls for harassed editors, to book appointments for the various meeting rooms and so on. One aspect of my job was to greet all the company visitors, have them sign in to the Visitors book and to let the right offices know their guests or clients had arrived.
It was a busy, fun place to work, occasionally Television crews would call in seeking interviews from Editors or Marketing staff over financial issues of the day. We also had “resting ” actors who would come in from time to time to work in different departments when they were between jobs.
Some of the staff were lovely and appreciative and treated me well but others well ….. you can see where this is going I am sure.
I apologise if I’ve mentioned this before but one area of responsibility I had sole charge of was the electronic door entry system. Every member of staff had an electronic tag or cotag as they were known. These they used to gain access to the building and were supposed to carry on their person at all working times. These cotags were set with certain times and access so in theory people could only go where they worked ie if you worked in the Books department you had access to the ground floor, the books office itself and bathrooms etc. It was meant to keep the building safe and to be able to keep track of staff in case of fire alarms.
Invariably people would forget their passes so I would have to manually buzz them into the building which is ok in the scheme of things unless you are frantically busy on the switchboard or in the reception area. Most people were grateful and would say thankyou but there were some repeat offenders who never remembered their cotags and would never say thanks even though you buzzed them in several times a day.
Some of this I put down to embarrassment but there were others who I felt looked down on me because I was only the receptionist, I wasn’t worthy of their attention or politeness, like the head of an aircraft magazine who stole into a meeting room reserved for someone doing interviews and then got shirty with me when I mentioned they had put someone else out.
Before you begin to think I was a little oversensitive, in my defence I would say all this went on over a long period of time and for a very long time I said nothing and took the blame for others rudeness.
However after a while when I became more settled I would( unprofessionally) shout Thankyou sometimes as these people I had buzzed in ran past me up the foyer stairs with no word of thanks or acknowledgement or if I was feeling particularly harassed and stressed I might shout after them “You’re welcome”.
I know. Bad hey? I’m not proud of my behaviour looking back but I do think its understandable. I was brought up to be polite and courteous to others and I mistakenly thought others would be the same. Boy was working in the city a shock and eye opener.
So inspired by today’s Daily Prompt my machine is a Politeness tunnel.
This tunnel would be at the entrance to every office and Supermarket and people would have to go through it to gain access to where they wanted to go. Those people with manners and courtesy would have no effect from the tunnel other than a feeling of serenity and pleasantness but those others, those ill-mannered, rude, obnoxious people who look down on other people and have no regard for the ones on the rungs of the ladder beneath them would forcefully be manipulated somehow by the tunnel into people of grace and thankfulness and manners.
Slightly silly I know but the point is politeness costs nothing. How hard is it to say Thank you when someone does something for you or excuse me when someone is in your path?
Manners matter tremendously because without them we are saying we are all more important than someone else and this simply isn’t true.
Thanks for reading!