Can there be too much politeness?

28 Mar

We often hear stories about the demise of a polite society as we are rush to achieve our life goals at the expense of others so this post might seem a little out of place but bear with me here.

To put it in context I catch a Sydney Ferry to work and for those people that haven’t experienced this delight let me tell you it’s near on THE best way to go to work. The humdrum of work is a distant thought in the morning and forgotten on the way home. Passengers are nice while waiting for the ferry as they orderly line up and allow bicyclist and older people on/off first. There’s polite quiet as people contemplate the view down Sydney Harbour. And they are even nice as they climb aboard the connecting bus. I have seen a number of things that have made me smile such as the ferry ticket collector drumming up support for the school kids to sell their charity chocolates (the kid had completely sold out before even getting to school) and has been echoed by a bus driver. In that case the driver got up before we departed and announced that she loves that route because everyone is so friendly and it makes a great start to her day.

So it’s better than the soulless bus or train I hear you say, so what? Stop rubbing it in. But is it possible that too much politeness actually becomes tedious and embarrassing? I’d like to think not but as I disembark in the afternoon almost every single passenger thanks the talented crew member who rarely fails to throw the rope around the bollard. It’s almost as if that single act has ensured that work is left behind and we are now “home”. The crew member politley says “thank you”, “have a nice day”, “see you later” etc and I often wonder that after 200 odd people have left the ferry all the way up the river he’s probably over being polite.

I certainly hope not and sincerely hope they get home themselves with a big smile on their face knowing they’ve helped so many people get home!


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