Appreciating Notre Dame manners
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, August 25, 2017
They’re phrases you hear all the time on campus. But over the summer, it seemed that those are phrases that simply disappeared from the collective vocabulary of everyone taking the Q72 LaGuardia Link bus on my commute home from work every day.
Growing up in the heart of New York City, I’m used to throwing some elbows to get around efficiently. I understand why New Yorkers get a bad reputation for being rude and aggressive, but it’s only that we walk with purpose. We’re still polite people.
The people on the bus, however, were of a whole different caliber. On the really crowded days, there was shoving, yelling and an occasional wailing child. The constant pre-recorded loop of a monotonous male voice saying “Please step away from the door” essentially became comic relief for the daily commuters mixed in inside the moving sardine can with the tourists and their massive 49-pound suitcases and carry-ons that definitely did not fit in carry-on sizer at the gate.
When the bus arrived at the subway stop, where nearly everyone disembarked, it was a mad rush for the door, and, once again, people started shoving and swinging luggage, trying to beat everyone off the bus. And somehow, those simple words were gone from their minds. No “Excuse me” as they shoved their way through the crowd to the doors, and no “Thank you” as they passed the bus driver, who had endured the stop-start traffic of one of the worst airports in the country at rush hour — as well as all the ridiculousness that goes along with transporting people who do not know where they are — and had safely delivered them from point A to point B.
That’s what drove me crazy about my commute more than anything. The length, the crowds and the unpredictability of it, I could handle; but the lack of basic manners rubbed me the wrong way.
It is not difficult to say “Thank you” or “Have a good day” as you get off the bus. It doesn’t take any time or slow anyone down behind you. But it might improve someone else’s day. Being appreciated or even, in the state of chaos that was the Q72 bus at rush hour, acknowledged can make it all feel worthwhile.
After just a few days of being back on campus, of being back in the non-airport reality, my fear that “Thank you” has been lost from the global vocabulary has been quelled. Obviously, the politeness, or even over-politeness, that characterizes so many in the Notre Dame community has remained intact since May, but my commuting experience over the summer has made appreciate it so much more. It has reminded me that it’s the little things every day that matter. It’s the “Have a great day” as you leave the dining hall and the “Thanks so much” for the person who held the door from an awkwardly long distance away that can set an interaction apart, and that is what is important.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.