Two-Minute Manners

A thirty-second radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) caught my attention recently. In the audio version, a dad is talking with his son about the importance of good manners … though the actual intent of the ad is to encourage children to develop good oral health care habits. The website ( provides entertaining videos to encourage children about brushing their teeth for two minutes twice daily. The radio PSA differs just slightly from the video below.

In both audio and video versions, Dad gives his son a run-down of all the mannerly qualities he wants his son to emulate in anticipation of becoming a grown-up gentleman. Essentially, the list goes:

 1.  Say yes, please.
 2.  Always say:  please, thank you, you’re welcome and excuse me.
 3.  Sit up straight; hold doors open for ladies.
 4.  If a door is shut, knock first.
 5.  Don’t:  burp, swear, stare, use foul language, reach across people’s plates.
 6.  Do:  keep your elbows off the table, share your toys, play nice.
 7.  Don’t:  speak with your mouth full, interrupt, call people names.
 8.  Do:  remember people’s names, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
 9.  On the bus, give up your seat to anyone who has trouble standing.
10.  Summary:  Treat others the way you want to be treated.

There’s one final admonition the audio covers but the video omits, for obvious reasons:  Stop picking your nose. It’s a cute ad, possibly because it has such universal identification. Hasn’t every parent (at one time or another) verbally tossed out a list of dos and don’ts to remind a kid what’s acceptable behavior? Continue reading “Two-Minute Manners”

Ask What You Can Do

There’s a common misconception that 21st century Americans have come to believe. Let’s call this misconception the Myth of the Expert (ME). As I’ve considered this myth, I’ve observed at least two aspects:  (1) an expert is the only one qualified to perform a task, and (2) only the expert knows how to get the job done right.ask_an_expert_logo-1

First aspect relates to qualifications. In general, when you’re looking for expertise, you consult an expert, someone who really knows. Whether you need a physician to diagnose your ailment or a roofer to re-shingle your home, you want someone whose credentials confirm their expertise and competence. Under normal circumstances, you’re not going to seek a medical opinion from your roofer.

There’s this fuzzy, unwritten rule in our culture that mysteriously freezes our ability and/or inclination to lend a hand to any endeavor where our credentials are either non-existent or lacking. This is standard operating procedure, right? We depend on our mechanics, plumbers, technicians, doctors and psychiatrists to diagnose (and presumably, fix) all problems … because they’re the experts! Continue reading “Ask What You Can Do”