If you are familiar with the brilliant television series, “The West Wing”, you have a sense of the way in which I flew out of my office not fifteen minutes earlier. Rapid-fire dialogue with colleagues as I delegated responsibilities, confirmed priorities, and sorted schedules while tugging on my coat, slinging my supplies over my shoulder and heading for the door. The energy did not subside as I hit the sidewalk. With each stride I continued to organize the cluttered desk I had left behind and strategize a way to recover the time I would lose in the studio that afternoon.
I was impatient and completely preoccupied when a young voice interrupted my internal department meeting.
I looked up to find a row of middle-school kids, clinging to their schoolyard fence ahead of me. A blue dodge-ball bounced to a stop against the curb across the street from me.
“Hey, Mister! Could you please get our ball for us?”
I pointed at the blue ball.
I gave a thumbs-up and crossed the street to retrieve the ball.
As I walked towards the schoolyard, ball in hand, a chorus of “Throw it here!” “Me! Throw it at me!” and “Over here! Over here!” grew louder.
I walked up to the fence, and reached over, handing the ball to the boy who had first called out to me. “I think it should go to the polite kid who asked for my help”, I said.
The kid took the ball, thanked me, and then immediately turned to his buddies and said, “See! Manners do matter!”
I walked on. …at a more moderate pace. In his eagerness to recover a dodge-ball, a kid remembered his manners. In my frenetic dash out of the office, had I remembered mine?