(Our shop sells a variety of desserts. The lady who owns the shop loves small kids, and insists that we add small extras for them. She often doesn’t even charge polite children. It’s a busy day when a woman and her young son approach the counter. The son can’t be older than 4. He looks terribly excited and is clutching a coin as though his life depends on it.)
Young Son: “Could I please have a…single chocolate ice cream?”
Mother: “You shouldn’t say ‘please’ to her. Only to people you know.”
Young Son: *sadly* “Oh…I’m sorry, Missus Ice Cream Lady. Am I still allowed a single chocolate ice cream?”
Mother: “No, don’t apologise, either! Just say what you want and don’t talk to her. You’ll waste good manners otherwise.”
Young Son: “Oh, okay…I would please like a single chocolate ice cream and nothing else.”
Mother: “No, you said please again! Look, it’s not that hard! Your manners are terrible!”
(As this goes on, I start making the ice cream. The boy’s eyes slowly move from his mother’s weird demands to the ice cream as I make it bigger and bigger, adding extra cream, berries, sprinkles, and anything I can think of. His face goes from confusion to a grin to a dropped jaw of awe. The final product is almost as big as his head.)
Me: “Here you go, young man! You’re the politest customer I’ve had today, and polite customers always get rewarded! If there were more customers like you, wouldn’t the world be a nicer place?”
Mother: “Ugh! He’s not supposed to be polite to people on minimum wage!”
Me: *ignores her* “Thank you, young man, for battling the forces of rudeness and for making the world a better place!”
(I refuse payment, because apparently the coin the boy is the boy’s ‘life savings’. The mother storms off berating him, although her son is oblivious due to his enormous ice cream. The next day, he and all his friends come for ice cream. All are super polite, so they all got extra-large ones at half price.)
Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused.
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