(Previously published in the Franklin Township Informer) This week I want to tell you about a rather nasty conversation that I had on the phone the other day with an office manager. I am not going to tell you though. It came near on to ruining my day so I don’t see any reason to ruin yours by telling you about it. After the conversation, I decided that I was not going to let her misery ruin my good mood. It did not and I am not going to inflict the story upon you.
Instead, I want to tell you about a few rules I learned from my mama when I was a little boy. Mama told me that “if you can’t say something nice about or to somebody, you ought not to say anything at all.” It took me a long time to learn that lesson but, by and by, I did. Course, if we all took this idea to heart, the gossips and busybodies would be out of business. Come to think about it, so would the politicians. That’s food for thought.
My mama also said that if I laughed the world would laugh with me but, if I cried, I would cry alone. There’s a lot of truth in that. Here’s another one that‘s close: “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with manure.” I have never conducted a literal test of that theory myself but I’m sure Mama was right (she almost always was). Mama’s point was being friendly and all in appearance and behavior sure could make things easier for everybody.
In my day job, I come across all manner of folks. Most of the time, people are easy to get along with. It’s the ornery ones that challenge us, isn’t it? They obviously did not take mama’s advice. Such was the case with the aforementioned office manager. I felt kind of sorry for her, you know. All that meanness and nowhere to take it but to somebody she doesn’t even know.
Mama used to tell me that meanness is learned and it can be unlearned. Mean folks are not any fun at all she would say. Being around them can make anybody ornery unless you decide you aren’t going to put up with. I made a decision to heed mama’s advice and I was as nice as I could be on the phone that day. There’s a fellow from long time ago what said if you hang around ornery people you’ll become ornery yourself. Mama thought that too.