Ps&Qs:Renew the Social Contract

At a party one night, I was chatting with a woman about one of the larger ideas behind GHG, the belief that we’re all guests here, so we should strive to be more thoughtful and respectful everywhere, be it someone’s home or on the subway.  It resonated with her, because she thinks that we’re losing sight of our social contract––the basic rules of courtesy, conduct and human interaction. The woman’s brother and his girlfriend, who both work at a coffee shop, jumped in and added that many people have just flat out forgotten their manners.

At the risk of sounding prissy (and old), I agree. The couple went through a list of behavior that they observe every day at their job: customers yapping on their phone while ordering; nary a please or thank you; and blatant-I’m-more-important-than-you line jumping, to name a few. Part of the problem is that in our increasingly electronic, virtual, blinking-screen world we tend to treat humans as just another automated service too. I admit, I’ve been guilty of the phone thing. In a reflex reaction I took a call while standing on line at the pharmacy, and I still wasn’t off the call when I reached the counter. I felt like a complete jerk.

It doesn’t take much to renew this social contract either.  A courteous hello, thank you or even a smile––you know, the basics. So, until we are all replaced by robots, put your call on hold, take a minute to acknowledge the human on the other side of the counter, in the toll booth at the ticket counter and be grateful that we are man and not machine (yet).



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