I grew up with the following truisms daily ringing in my ears: The truth shall set you free. Honesty is the best policy. Patience is a virtue. Add to that the regular warnings that I should never be disrespectful of our elders, regardless of their idiosyncrasies that often are laughable.
I understood “respect for your elders” to mean I should always offer them a helping hand as they got off a bus; I should keep my mouth shut whatever they might say to me; that they should always be addressed as “Mister” or “Miss”. My parents still ask me, at 22, whether I prefaced a conversation with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”.
This week I gave up my airy, comfortable seat at the back of a bus so that four kids could sit together with their mother. Oh, but such misbehaved kids. The two boys and two girls were so noisy, our driver had to keep telling them to keep their hands inside the bus, never mind that their guardian was right there. Halfway through the trip, the driver stopped to pick up an elderly gentleman. The poor man had such a hard time getting aboard that when finally he made it, he lacked the strength to get to the only available seat. At one point he slipped and a young girl, not older than four, let out the usual “Eeesalop!” The other three young passengers offered their own local cuss words, some laughing their heads off as if an old man falling were the funniest thing they’d ever seen. Even the mother with her little demons in the back seat could not contain herself!
Thank goodness for the Good Samaritan who restored my faith in today’s humanity. He got up and helped the old gentleman settle in his seat. A deathly silence followed. Was it brought on by embarrassment on the part of the mindless fellow passengers? Maybe a lesson was learned; I hope so, anyway. However, I’m still wondering what it was about the scene just described that prompted one young girl to disturb the silence with her loud rendition of The Dennery Segment’s “Split In De Middle!”—accompanied by several of the sub-teen commuters!