I was plumping up my pillows and smoothing out the creases in the covers of my Sydney hotel room bed this AM when it got me reminiscing.

When I was 18, my pals and I went through a stint of hotel parties (usually SkyCity or so); i.e, booking a hotel room for a night, inviting all and sundry to come cram in the smallish space and proceeding to down bevvys and boom out Dubstep before heading out for a rager. It was always Pulse-fuelled antics complete with a couple of noise complaint calls, irritated glares at the eons of peps catching the elevator up and uninvited persons raiding our minibar (thank above for the ability to trot off to Fix and replace the bulk of the missing consumables before it got charged on Anne the Abstinean cat breeder’s cred card). 

The morning after said shenanigans I’d set my alarm for a hour before check out to potter around the numerous comatose bodies to hang up used towels, collect up empty cans (now tank-empty Pulses) and wipe up spills. My friends would curse me and the consquetional racket, questioning, “WHY!!”. That was for the cleaners to do, they’d assert. Paid workers whose job it ’twas to tidy up after it. There was no, absolutely no need for me to dive in and make the beds back up to pristine states – including proper placement of deco pillows – as soon as they themselves vacated them at two minutes to 10am. 

But it was courtesy, right? Courtesy, plain and simple. 

Such tendencies continue to this day. No matter where in the world I am, what star the place of stay or even if the staff have been rather rude, I always find myself straightening sheets, collecting up used cups and cavorting open curtains. 

It extends to hospo havens also. I always proffer my plate to the waitstaff at the ready to make it far more of an easy exercise for them. Perhaps a result of my many many many years boomeranging back to being a waitress, I know the pain that is felt when diners sit there ignoring your presence and don’t make an effort to lean to the left and out of the way so you can inch in. Even though often some peoples’ aid can be more of a hindrance than a help, it always warmed my heart that they were courteous to try. 

But courtesy doesn’t necessarily have to extend the almost irrationally gallantry that I often take it to. Common courtesy is smiling as you pass a stranger on the street in acknowledgement. It’s thanking the shop assistant who takes your payment even though it is their paid role. It’s standing back to let someone else pass through the door first. Everyone does it, right? Right? 

Nope. Absolutely not. 

Today I made a point of observing how others interacted and whether courtesy was present in said communication (or lack of). 

I was astounded. 

I sat on a bench and watched as people walked by. Out of thirty odd sets of crossings in my vicinity, only a mere four addressed passersby, usually as the result of a cordial canine facilitating connections. 

If I’m waltzing down a walkway or floating down a footpath (I tend to sometimes get lost in Pop world and get a touch dreamy) I always feel a sharp pang of hurt should a stranger not meet my eye or give me a nod of hand in hi. To see that cognisance was only happening at a rate of 2/15 had me woebegone (fantastic word). And it didn’t stop there. 

A businessman snatched his takeaway half-a-sugar-three-quarters-full-dash-of-hot-milk-make-sure-it’s-not-cold-milk long black from a barista and strode off without a backwards glance nor thank you. Youth remained firmly planted on their seats, as not-exactly-elderly-but-definitely-making-headway-over-the-hill passengers clung to standing bars on the train. And the jostling in human traffic crossing the busy road? Not a single sorry for rogue elbows or cutting off. At all. 

I tried telling myself it’s because I’m in Aussie. Kiwis would never behave in such a manner! (Or lack thereof). But being truthful and thinking over scenarios I’ve been in over the last few days, I know it’s not at all the case. Courtesy seems to be lacking in both bits of Down Under. 

Take a post just last week on the local Grapevine Facebook page. A  man had taken to his keyboard in frustration – and no doubt a truckload of emotional bruising – at how whenever he slows down for horseriders on an open country road, said bare backers and saddle seaters never ever raise their hand in thanks or  give even a slight grin of gratitude. It’s just ignore, ignore, ignore, and the ranter was sick of no acknowledgement. A horserider bit back that it was the driver’s responsibility to slow down; it was the way of the road, so why should he receive recognition? Rightly so in surface respects, but a wave out wouldn’t hurt, would it? Surely no more than the hurt feelings of not? 

How hard is it to slot in a “please” when asking the teller to once again replace your Eftpos card? To give the poor young mum trying to console her tantrum-throwing toddler a sympathetic smile saying,  We’ve all been there (even if the closest you’ve been is a brief bout of babysitting)? To make idle chit chat with the old dear in front of you in the queue at the Post Office? To throw out ” thank you”‘s and “how’s it going”‘s and “hi there”‘s and “nice/terrible/what wet weather we’re having”‘s?
Granted, I know I can go the other way. It wouldn’t surprise me if supermarket shoppers see me trotting along with my trolley and think, “Cripes! It’s that always-in-active-wear girl with the pink crotchet headband and weird Indian wishing bells around her ankle. I better bury myself in a magazine before she lines up behind me  and starts yarning away.” But I’d rather be too in your face than turning my face away. 
I’m not saying everyone needs to tidy their accomodation facilities for the cleaners because it’s an act of courtesy. But giving the staff a small smile or nod when passing them in the hall? That’s courtesy, plain and simple. 

Whether you make the bed or not, you’ve got to lie in it. 
(Thanks for reading). 

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