February 21, 2008

Chivalry Is Not Dead

Late last night, while leaving a long senate meeting, I was walking down the steps in the Nebraska Union. I pulled my hat out of my coat pocket and out with it came my coin purse, which promptly hit the landing and spilled coins everywhere. Without hesitation, two people came to help me pick up the change. One young man even put down his cell phone and ran half way up the stairs to help gather what couldn't have been more than two dollars in pennies, nickles, and quarters. It made me so absurdly happy.

We hold the doors for each other. People even wait several seconds for the person behind them to catch up so the door doesn't slam in their face. Men, young and old, will hold the door open and step aside to let ladies enter first. Just to be fair, I try to do the same for anyone else, male of female. Entryways see the exchange of many thank you's and you're welcome's.

When my car was plowed in two weeks ago, the guys who shovel the walk at the State Capitol came and helped push me out. They said they had been told not to by their bosses (sometimes I think liability insurance agents are out to ruin the world). One guys said he would help anyway and the other said he would help just because he was told not to. They had me out in under five minutes. I never even got their names. I've seen others do the same and done it myself. When someone is stuck spinning their tires, three or four other motorists will stop, get out and push, and then go on their way again. It's just what you do.

People offer rides to their classmates without prompting on cold winter nights. Lisa will offer one to me on Tuesdays, Keith on Thursdays, and I'll offer a ride to Corina on Wednesdays.

"Studio Culture" is much debated at the architecture college. For all it's downsides, it does build a sense of solidarity. Anyone can borrow anything from anybody at anytime. Sharpies, rulers, staplers, drafting tape, knives, scales, glue, anything at all. When things seem to wander off, nobody fusses, they just reach over and borrow from their neighbor. Eventually it all comes back around. We lean over each other's shoulders, help with projects, teach new computer skills, and edit term papers.

We wait for each other in traffic. The other day, while trying to pull out of a parking space along busy 10th street during rush hour, a nice gentleman stopped his car (and everyone behind him) to waive me out.

If you drop something, someone will pick it up and run after you. I've lost my wallet twice in my life and had it returned both times with all the cash and credit cards intact.

A complete stranger once changed my flat tire on a busy street corner in Omaha.

When we pass someone on the street and make eye contact, we smile, sometimes nod, sometimes say hello - even if we don't know them. I've been told by visitors that this is odd.

We smile, say please, thank you, and your welcome to the TSA agents at the airport. They return the favor. I've noticed this isn't the case at other airports.

I love Nebraska.


Jorge Mejía said...

I just needed this. Today has been a hard day indeed, full of shitty people everywhere, and this entry has just made me smile, remembering all those times in my life when people have been good to me also. In spanish, you call kind people who help you "amable", which literally stands for "lovable". That's what you say: "eres muy amable" - "you are lovable". It's a way of saying thank you. By writing this, you are picking up my fallen coins today. Thank you - eres muy amable...

Monica said...

Amable, loveable, I like that. Makes me sound like a fuzzy teddy bear. Sounds like "amiable" in English. It's a synonym for "friendly" and "kind."

I guess they are all really words for metta (in Pali) or maitri (in Sanskrit) - loving-kindness. Love without attachment; love without asking for anything in return; love without want.

Metta to you, Jorge!

Tor Hershman said...

No past lives, no future lives, just guaranteed oblivion
who could ask for less?

Stay on groovin' safari,

EdaMommy said...

Great post, and what Jorge said! ^_^ Interesting and encouraging stuff!