A renaissance of common courtesy

everyday charactersI was in the market for a maid. But he so cheerfully languished in the back of the shop, I just had to ask.

“If he wasn’t self-cleaning, he’d ‘ve gathered dust by now,” said the shopkeep. “But he’ll do light sort of chores. Vacuum. Dishes. Windows. Maybe some weeding. That might be a stretch, though. He’s mainly a greeter, for your aristocratic types. Narrow market for that. Poor thing.”

And greet me he did, with a gracious bow, and a flourish of his right arm.

The truth is, I felt sorry for him. I know he’s just a machine. But I watched my brother’s VW Bug rot behind my parents’ garage when he moved to Colorado and I felt sorry for it too.

So I took him home. Shopkeep threw in the Windsor spindle-back chair and, while Reginald sits out on our front porch and charms passersby – joggers, dog-walkers, police officers, real estate agents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, repairmen, campaigners, solicitors, salesmen, my neighbors and my neighbor’s kids – I do my own chores.

Turns out the energy spent mustering daily pleasantries for Cynthia Tate and her prize-winning rain garden far exceeds the energy required to sweep the landing.

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