Us Canadians are notorious for our good manners. We say 'please' even when cussing you out. This happens to be one of those stereotypes that actually rings true and something I never realized until I travelled beyond the frozen tundra of my home and native land. Did you catch my cheekiness with the 'frozen tundra' comment? I mean, I live on the West Coast and it snows three times a year here, mostly only in January. I think it might surprise most of the world how mild the weather is here. That being said, I feel sorry for those suckers on the East Coast, poor sods.
I didn't come to talk about snowflakes and frosty noses, though. We are discussing human decency, or what others call manners.
Whenever I travel, be it overseas or simply beyond the border, I am pegged as a Canadian straight away. It isn't because I say out and about funny, either. It's because I often say 'please' and 'thank you', sometimes in excess, and this draws attention. A lot of it.
To be honest, I have no freakin' clue! It boggles my mind that people are surprised by a bit off gratefulness. I can only surmise the rest of the world is ruder than Canada, maybe due to lack of space? All this extra room and lush fresh mountain air has messed with our heads. Or maybe it's the way we are raised. Perhaps people in other countries are raised to believe waitresses, bus drivers, postal workers and garbage men are paid to do a job and they don't need thanks in return, maybe their wage is supped to be thank you enough. It's not, though. Not really. Even when it is someone's job to serve and help, they still deserve appreciation.
When someone does something for me, I thank them, regardless of who it is or what they are doing. If it's a friend, coworker, a waitress, or the grocery clerk, I ask with kindness and follow with respect. Those are the emotions behind good manners. Everyone is deserving of a little gratitude and it takes no extra time for me to tack a 'thank you' onto an interaction.
My mother taught me to mind my manners. She drilled it into me since I first learned to speak to always say 'please' and 'thank you', to chew with my mouth closed, not interrupt others when speaking, and keep my elbows off the table. I was taught to be kind. To not take anything for granted - not the sunshine, rain, the girl bringing me a water at a restaurant, or the man who waves me to go first at a four way stop. It worries me that as the generations pass, good manners are falling to wayside. In this day and age, we could use a little more graciousness, for without it our civilizations will grow less civil and our days more unpleasant.
Yes, I say thank you and please. I apologize for my actions, the actions of others, and anything I deem worthy of an 'I'm sorry'. Canadians are known for being 'nice' but I think that's better than having a reputation of being mean or rude.
So, I will continue to mind my manners. Not because I am Canadian and it's in my blood, but because I understand how hard it is to exist on this planet at times. I know how important it is to feel appreciated. And I think a little kindness goes a long way.