RAISING ‘EXCUSE ME’ CHILDREN IN AN ‘EXCUSE YOU’ WORLD:
Cultivating a spirit of gratitude and generosity all year long by Garrick D. Conner
everal years ago, my wife, Michelle, and I had the opportunity to visit New York City for an extended weekend getaway. I had long desired to experience the buzz of the Big Apple, with its honking taxis, street vendors and glistening skyscrapers. For a Southern guy, the “city that never sleeps” was a real change of scenery, a sharp contrast from the more sprawling and laid-back Dallas-Fort Worth area that had been home for several years.
ARKANSAS CHRISTIAN PARENT // FALL • WINTER 2013
Indeed, New York City tickled the senses with its sights, sounds and smells (not all of which were pleasant, by the way). However, I found one thing in strikingly short supply: hospitality. New Yorkers are a different breed, to be sure. It didn’t take long for my wife and me to notice that our smiles, nods
and pleasantries were almost always ignored. Was this a by-product of busyness or merely an outward manifestation of a prevailing “each man for himself” mentality? Perhaps nowhere was the sense of unconcern for others more evident than at the subway stations. And woe to those who dared to try to walk against the mob of people exiting the station at each stop! Michelle and I commented to each other that the most frequently used greeting was not much of a greeting at all. As our shoulders brushed against a seemingly endless sea of people, person after person grimaced and snapped, “Excuse you.” That’s right. One of the kindest and most common expressions – at least in the South – had been corrupted and turned into a belittling battle cry that seemed to say, “You don’t belong here. Get out of my way.” Now, in fairness, I feel compelled to acknowledge that this prevailing attitude of “me first” was by no means universal. There were moments of kindness and courtesy, although most of them, as I recall, seemed to come from other visitors to the city – people who, no doubt, knew all too well the feeling of being lost in a place where no one knows your name.