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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bringing Home the Golden Rule

A few years back I was asked if I would transfer to El Paso, TX to help develop my employer’s training team there.My wife was raised in East Bridgewater, had lived there all of her life, and rarely had traveled outside of New England.I, on the other hand, had lived in four states and about ten homes by the time I was twenty.

Marlene was unsure about moving to Texas. She wondered what the people and the weather would be like, and how she would get along so far from what she knew. We decided to go for a two-week trip to that area for vacation. We went in late August so that we would know about the heat of summer. After all, El Paso is in the desert.

We flew into El Paso International Airport on a Thursday afternoon and went to pick up our rental car and luggage. Knowing how long it can take to get luggage off a plane and into the terminal, we opted to get the car first. The baggage claim was, after all, directly across from the car rental area.

Our reservation was ready, and the clerk had our information on her screen waiting for us when we walked up. After the usual, “would you like an upgrade, insurance, blah, blah, blah,” we had a map of the terminal, the airport, and the city with our route to our hotel highlighted in yellow; it was free and with a smile! By this time, about 10-12 minutes, our luggage was circling the carousel behind us. We grabbed our bag and headed outside.

Once outside we stopped to get our bearings. A gentleman asked if we needed help or directions. We said we were enjoying the air and looking for our rental car. My wife asked what the smell was and he said, “Oh, it rained about an hour ago but it had passed by and we had to wait till tomorrow to see if we would get anymore. So enjoy, it doesn’t last.” I had forgotten the sweet aroma of summer rain. He then helped us find our car and told us to “have a great vacation,” and walked off.

We drove off into the El Paso rush hour traffic.We came to our first merge; we were in the left lane and had to go right. Marlene put on her directional and the person approaching for our right rear slowed down and waved her across in front of him.He gave a five finger wave.When we got to the yield on the highway, the other drivers let us in to the flow.We had seen the people in front of us doing it, but it was very foreign to us, and it scared Marlene.

The hotel staff were pleasant and helpful, the restaurant staff cheerful and polite and served us endless chips, salsa, and ice tea, and my company’s people gave us a tour of the facility and had a big luncheon for us just to say hello.

When you go into a store, any store, and you get to the counter they ask you if you found everything okay. If you say no, they send someone to get it. And they smile and say stuff like, “I’m glad I could help.”

What kind of drugs are in the water there?

On Friday we set out for Big Bend National Park.The Park is about 350 miles, give or take thirty, from El Paso. The roads were long and lonely; we could go five or fifteen minutes before seeing another car. This brought us to our last straw; every driver and passenger that passed us going the other direction waved – again with a five finger wave!Who the heck are these people?Why are they waving to us?

We pulled over to check that our car was okay.

The next day we were to go on a raft ride down the Rio Grande. My credit card declined.They let us go on the trip and said “we’ll work it out when you get back.” When we got back the nice lady said she had gotten it worked out with the credit card company for us. She called them and told them who she was and what we were doing and worked it out!What?

Am I missing something?Does this happen here in MA?I know there are a lot more cars on the road up here, and that if we took our hand off the wheel to wave to everyone we would crash because the other hand is on our phone. I know there are a lot more people here who would consider scamming you for a $300 raft ride (not that they would). You could get away more readily here then in La Jeitas, TX.La Jeitas has one road that goes through it, and getting away would be difficult. In MA, there’s lots of roads if you can get on one.

So why tell you all of this?To help people, including myself, remember that common courtesy is not dead.

The other day I was walking down a stairwell in the Campus Center. I witnessed a person doing something cool. They stopped at the door and waited about ten seconds to hold the door for another person who was still on the stairs. That person had every right to just keep going. What’s the rule anyway: if someone is behind you push hard on the door and keep walking, maybe it will stay open long enough for them to catch it, or is it don’t even think about it- just keep walking.What if it was: if a person is right behind you open the door and let them pass through before you. If they are a few steps back, hold the door till they have it.I’m not sure that’s a tough one.

Let’s make a new rule: do to others what you want done to you! And I’m not speaking in slang- I’ll get you before you get me. I’m speaking about the “Golden Rule.” That’s right, it’s out there already.

Please, thank you, you are welcome, excuse me, may I help you with that. Did you know that the MBTA had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to put up signs that reminded riders that the elderly and handicapped are permitted preferred seating?So they spent money to make the signs then they used space they could have rented out to other advertisers to put them up.Just so you and I would remember to let people off before we pushed our way onto the train. I actually prefer to stand on the trains and buses you get more room than those little seats.

I know someone who carries a $5.00 coffee card with them at all times and when he sees someone go out of there way to help someone else he gives it to them. He gives out about two a month, 10 bucks.What would it cost you to do a good deed, to pay it forward, to do a random act of kindness?

Here is my suggestion for this week.Go beyond what is required! Let the car merge with a wave, and use all your fingers, not just one.Open the door and let a person behind you through, take the door from the person who got stuck holding it for everyone.Make eye contact and smile. Go help one of the Student Centers with a project. Hell, write a column telling people like me to shut up and stop whining.

Most of you that are reading this are part of the University community. You are here to get an education or to help others get an education.Let’s teach common courtesy to each other. Here is a thought: there are about 12,000 students at UMB. If each one of us did one unexpected nice thing to someone else everyday, that would be 4,380,000 unexpected nice things a year.We could make a difference!Hell we might even begin to expect nice things.

What would we do then?