It may be an old wives’ tale (as compared to what young wives would say), or maybe it’s an urban legend, or maybe it’s just not really so, but the old saying that “it takes more muscles to frown than to smile” does have a big element of truth to it.
That element of truth is the same one found in what my mama used to tell me and my brothers when we would venture out of the house to roam the neighborhood, “You boys play pretty.” (If I have to tell you what that means, one thing it does mean is you aren’t from around here.)
That element has also been around not just with my mama, but also for centuries found in what folks call the “Golden Rule,” you know, the one the Book says so much about. And in case you’re wondering, the Golden Rule for today is not “He who has the gold makes the rules,” but rather what it’s always been. As King James says, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” If you want to translate that to Southern English, it says “Treat other folks the same way you want to be treated” and it’s okay to say it that way.
However, the main thing isn’t to say it, anyway, but to do it.
I say all that to note something that seems to be more and more a common practice today — namely that folks aren’t following that notion. That failure, it seems, is especially common when folks get behind the wheel.
My daddy used to quote quite often something the late, great Bill Jackson of WPTF radio fame years ago was fond of noting. He often pointed out that the folks who would hold the door for you or perform some other random act of kindness were the same folks who would run over you 10 minutes later if you got in their way on the roadway.
It was a few days ago I noticed such an event and just shook my head at the unfolding of the details. I was in a short line of traffic coming through my hometown when a few feet ahead the driver of a parked car backed out of his space. Initially there was plenty of time to perform the move until suddenly the car immediately in front of me, which was also the car behind the backing-out vehicle, decided to play his trump card.
Rather than use the brake, the middle driver opted for the accelerator, got very close to the backing vehicle and then proceeded to display another piece of his own vehicle’s equipment, namely the horn. The thought immediately went through my mind that, I assumed, it was much easier and apparently more satisfying not to give a second or two to help a fellow traveler along life’s road, but rather to cuss him instead.
What’s the moral of this little story? It’s that courtesy, much like common sense, is most uncommon today.
And it’s a good thing for the horn-blowing driver that my mama wasn’t around because he definitely wasn’t playing pretty.
Don’t let that be you. Play pretty. It’s much nicer.
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.
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