The week that my Dad died, I remember sitting down on the bottom step of the stairs at my home, and calling an old friend, one who knew my Dad during our childhood. She was someone I kept in touch with for decades, and we knew each others families growing up. I believed that she would want to know my Dad died. I still think she would have wanted to know. But from the time she answered the phone, until the time that she ended our call because she had to get back to what she was doing when I phoned her, I listened. I listened to her tell me all about what was going on in her life, how the kids were, how her career was progressing, her marriage, and everything in between. Then she very kindly thanked me for calling, and we hung up. I never got to tell her that my Dad died. And I remember sitting on that bottom step and crying, because the boys were not home, and I had the opportunity to just ball my brains out all by myself without making them sadder than they already were. So I did. I also remembered thinking that I absolutely had to make darn sure that I never, ever did that to anyone. Ever.
But I’m certain I have. And I’m certain in these technology-flooded days, the above scenario is becoming all too normal.
Nowadays, you could exchange a “How are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you?” with a cashier at Meijers ten times before you realize you have already robotically answered that question over and over already. You might then share a chuckle, but likely not. People don’t engage much anymore. My Dad would sure be disappointed. He talked to everyone. His favorite Meijer cashier was Colleen. She played the piano, and my Dad loved talking with her about pianos and music. I wanna be like my Dad.
I can go through fast food drive-through to buy coffee and literally, never receive eye contact from the person handing me my coffee. I think Santa Claus could drive through Tim Horton’s with his sleigh and all of his reindeer, and nobody would see any of it.
Event invitations are digital and a robot texts you with a reminder not to forget to RSVP on the appropriate APP. Check in at the gym on an APP. Order your groceries on an APP. Check in at the physician’s office on an APP. Order lunch on an APP. Oh, now I can even punch in to work on an APP! The list goes on.
I get it. I get it. I got it. I need to conform.
I have actually recently googled generational names, and etiquette specific to each group. Guess what I found. I found a program I could pay big money for in order to get a certificate in becoming an etiquette consultant. Seriously? (Seriously, I want that job!)
Listen. I’m a Baby Boomer. So here’s my Baby Boomer pledge:
I am going to continue sending thank you cards. I’ll handwrite (that means in cursive) my name and address in the corner by myself. I don’t even need those little sticky return address labels, even if they ARE cute. I took a class on how to address an envelope and handwrite a letter, so I consider myself already “certified” in letter-writing etiquette.
I’m going to continue walking in banks until they close them for good, chatting with the cashier instead of using self check-out at the grocery store, and I’m going to ask how people are and listen to their response. And I’m going to listen, not just yack. I will NOT check into the physician’s office no matter how many times you text me, but I will drop off donuts and look you in the eyes at the window when I sign in.
I will call to check on you (like Lori & Mary), offer to bring dinner (like Edna), listen, and recommend a ride on a 4-wheeler out in nature (like my Pood), and tell you if you’re walking crooked (like Sarah & Ruth). I will call to make sure you got home safely, share tomatoes and cucumbers with you, cut coupons I won’t use but I know that you will, and I will pray for you.
And. I will always, always, always leave two spaces after a period because… it’s a Baby Boomer thang 😉
I won’t conform. You can’t make me.