I had to make an emergency trip to Walmart this evening. I wasn't in a huge hurry, but I sure didn't want to stand in a long line at the checkout. I found the shortest line (Aisle 18) and prepared myself for a long wait, and to pass the time looking at the weird As Seen on TV junk that Walmart loves to cram in their checkout lanes.
Out of the blue, the man in front of me turned around and said, "Miss, you can go in front of me, I have a ton of stuff and you just have that one item." I took a good look at the guy. There's no way for me to be politically correct about this, so I'll just come out and say it - he looked like a person of ill repute. And it was the most courteous interaction I'd had all day. I thanked him graciously, paid for my one item and left.
On my way home, I thought about what happened in the checkout line. That man didn't have to give up his spot for me. 99 times out of 100, the person with a bursting-at-the-seams shopping cart wouldn't have let me go ahead of them.
There are times when I'm probably more rude or uncaring than I should be. I've cut people off at the gas pump, I've talked on my cell phone in a restaurant, I've forgotten to send birthday cards. But I do try to be courteous, or at least pleasant. When a cashier asks me how my day is going, I ask them about their day. I hold the badge-activated exterior door open for co-workers in the morning. I help other people with their dogs at busy dog shows.
I don't really know where I'm going with this. I think what I'm trying to say is... give courtesy a try once in awhile. If you see an opportunity where you can do something small to make someone else's day a bit brighter, don't be lazy - do it! Smile at your waitress. Tip your garbage man. Give up your place in line at Walmart to some poor schmuck that only has one or two items to buy.
(This was my one item - a box of Advantage.)