NO FLUORESCENT LIGHTING

August 13, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

     Fluorescent lights never fit cafes where a small corner table has a lady sitting without fidget, staring a bit into space, her hands holding tight a hot cup of tea. A moment of reflection? Simply a shopping break? Waiting for someone? Has a romance ended? Did it fail to start? Or is it just a coldish day, and the stronger Irish tea available at this place suits a relative non-moment? Whatever the story, garish lighting will not do, in the cafe, in life.

     Ambiance is vital, a must, if there is to be purring, if the day can coast without hills, without downshifting, without gunning it. Special atmosphere is rare enough, and it can never come in a place with fluorescent lighting or the metaphor of that.

     Maybe a walk on a trail will do the trick, or some old-fashioned motoring,  conversation with another or with silence that is not uncomfortable, far from it, reassuring actually.

     It may be that a fire on a chilly night, tea at hand, maybe a small drink, something to read, alone but immersed in imagination. No fluorescent lighting.

    You’ve met up with a former colleague, from the days when daily output on the job, in the career, was steady, coming from a well-oiled machine, together. Recalling that mutual success brings calm, its own purring.

     The family is grown, moved away, even if just a few miles. You have done your job, they are good, giving people. Warming your hands around a cup of Barry’s tea is your reward. It’s more than enough.

     These are turbulent times, as has always been, though the present angst seems overwhelming, as if we have all been herded into a large holding area under harsh fluorescent lights.

     But teatime comes, you know. As the Irish proverb goes, “Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it.”

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. Contact: ahgunther@yahoo.com

IMPOLITENESS, INCIVILITY

August 6, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

ahgunther@hotmail.com

Impoliteness and incivility are what they are these days, which generally means watered-down manners, some to the point of not being recognizable social behavior. It’s as if no one taught some clowns how to act toward others. And this is from someone who has been a clown himself, though not so much recently.

In my parts, north of New York City in the burbs, some public meetings become shouting matches and physical altercations as if town hall were the place for a street rumble. And there is always the incivility of the street, with impatient drivers, including myself.

But the lack of manners, the impoliteness most distressing is in communication, or the absence of it. Too many people, “important” ones, too, fail to answer letters and e-mails, even when they solicit same. I have written or emailed (on required forms) to the governor, to Ford Motors headquarters, to Ford engineers, to Dunkin’ Donuts and to others. All these business and people pay big bucks to solicit your opinion and some have flashy websites announcing just how “valuable” your view is. Yet write a constructive, balanced criticism with helpful suggestions, and not only do you not get a form-letter reply when you should receive at least a considered, individual response, but you receive a reply at all. None of my letters or emails in the past few years have been acknowledged. That is bad manners, and it is not polite.

The individual writer may have a harebrained idea, but if he or she presents it in a non-shouting, well-considered, non-offensive way, it should get a reply.

If people do not listen, do not pay attention to others, there is no communication, and that is sloppy for society, especially today when emotions, not clear-headedness, often rules.

Adding to this social incivility are some tradesmen. I recently considered having construction work done in my home and requested quotes from three businesses, all local. Two never replied, though they run ads shouting for trade. One firm sent a fellow who never got back to me, despite several calls to his office.

The bottom line is that my project is probably too small for their effort — the companies could use their staff on bigger jobs, with more profit. Not polite behavior, though. Bad business, too, as I won’t speak well of these outfits.

When some of us went to school, we were taught to write personal and business letters. We also penned replies. The point was not only to learn how to compose such missives but to reinforce the standard that in a civil society, communication — the back and forth of it —  is necessary and expected. (Tweets don’t count.)

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com. This essay is adapted from an earlier version.