From courtesy to contempt


This past week I was the recipient of a very kind courtesy. I had breakfast at a local restaurant and was sitting with a bunch of retired guys and some farmers. 

We solved the world’s problems and complained about the local and national political scene. A typical male rite of passage with the first liar standing no chance. 

I went to leave and pay my bill. The waitress told me that my ticket had been covered. I immediately thought of the group I was with and wondered who had bought my breakfast. 

The group I was with are decent guys, but not normally inclined to pick up another’s tab. I asked the waitress who paid my bill. She said a married couple that was sitting near the door had covered my tab. 

I asked who the couple was and the waitress informed me she did not know their names. She stated they come into the restaurant occasionally and often simply pick up the tab of someone in the restaurant. The waitress then said, “Today, that’s you.” 

I admit to being taken aback a little. Then a smile crossed my face. I had just received a gift, a courtesy, from a stranger. It felt pretty good and my whole day was uplifted by a gift from a stranger. 

I cannot thank someone I don’t know, but if by chance they read this column, “Thanks” What I can do is play the courtesy forward. That couple made my day and I had a smile all day. I will hopefully put a similar smile on some strangers as I play the courtesy forward. A smile is a much better way to live life. Thank-you to whoever was my benefactor.

Physics teaches us that for every action there is an equal reaction. The above courtesy was counter balanced by the contempt the public must be having for our esteemed leaders in Washington. Don’t’ know who has the biggest ego in Washington, Speaker Pelosi or President Trump. Kids on the playground soon learn that if you take away the ball nobody gets to play. Nancy disinvites Donald from the House Chambers for his State of the Union address. Donald then pulls Nancy’s military airplane for her flight to Europe and the Middle East. Meanwhile the federal government is shut down over a border wall that, five years ago, almost everyone was for. 

Mrs. Onken, my first grade teacher, would have made all of us sit at our desks during recess if we acted as selfishly as Donald and Nancy. Notice I said both respective leaders. Mrs. Onken would hold the ball until one of us informed her that we could all play nicely with each other and would stop our childish bickering. America doesn’t need more partisan politicians in Washington. America needs more first grade teachers who can simply take the ball away and cancel recess for our contemptuous politicians.

Let us not forget the Covington Catholic High School Boy who attended the March for Life in Washington earlier this month. This is a classic case of jumping to conclusions before all the facts are known. 

The boys attended the march and were waiting with their chaperones to get on the buses and leave Washington. The media sound and film bytes showed what appeared to be a smirking teenage boy standing in front of an elderly native American blocking his way. The media went into a frenzy about the Catholic boy’s showing great disrespect for a native American while wearing Trump’s make America Great Again hats. 

The boys were thrown under the bus so hard that their school essentially disavowed the boys and threatened discipline against the students and the Catholic Church leadership also voiced disapproval of the boys actions. If all you watched was the 30 seconds of the boy in front of the native American, I can understand your outrage. But as Paul Harvey would say, what is the rest of the story.

Fortunately, someone videotaped a much longer version of the incident. That tape clearly shows the boys were non-aggressive. The protesters walked into the space occupied by the boys. That look on the teenage boy as a smirk can easily be described as a shocked reaction to being in the middle of a hostile protest and having no idea what to do.  The plus side of this incident is that it reminds all of us to not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.

Lastly, I am writing this on a Wednesday, and it’s cold outside. Eighteen below is not my idea of a fun day. Stay warm, it may even be your meal that I buy. If so, smile and pass it on.