On the invitation was a request for some words of wisdom for the graduate.
This got me thinking: If someone asked me for some words of wisdom for a young person about to set out into the world, what would I offer them?
After thinking about it for a while, Here's what I came up with:
I'd offer them a brief course in Courtesy 201.
I call it Courtesy 201 because it deals with issues of good manners that are a stratum above the 101- level basics such as saying "please" and "thank you", holding the door, and covering your face when you cough or sneeze.
This next level of courtesy has to do with polite behavior in social situations and its tenets are not as ubiquitously taught as are the better-known and more basic good manners.
Anyway, here, for starters, are ten rules of Courtesy 201 that it would probably do well for every youngster to hear at least once before they set off from home. So feel free to share, or to add to, these:
Ten Rules of Courtesy 201:
1. If you are out in a public place, such as a restaurant, the mall, the park, or even just out on the street, with another person and someone you know comes up to you to say hello, immediately introduce this person to the person you are with, even if you only plan on talking to the new arrival for a minute or two, so as not to make the person you're with feel left out while you're talking to someone they don't know. Don't carry on a long conversation with the new arrival unless you can include the person you're with in the conversation.
2. If you pull out a chair to sit at a table in a public place such as a restaurant or library, when you get up to leave be sure and push the chair back to the table so it isn't in people's way.
3. When you hand a cashier, or anybody, one or more dollar bills, make sure the bills are straight, not folded or crumpled, and have the face side up, which makes the denomination clearer to see and is the way the cashiers are required to set bills into their drawer.
4. If you're a guest a someone's place and buffet-style refreshments are served, don't start digging in until your host invites you to.
5. If you invite a group of people over to your place and serve buffet-style refreshments, as people with good manners don't dig in until until invited to, be sure and let people know when it's time to eat and direct them to help themselves to the food and drink.
6. If you are a guest at someone's place for a sit-down meal or snack, it's good manners to wait until your host starts eating before you dig in.
7. If you are hosting people for a sit-down meal or snack, as soon as grace is said and everyone is served, begin eating as a signal to your guests that they, too, should start eating.
8. Rule of thumb: Whether sit-down or buffet, the well-bred host indicates to the polite guest by word or gesture when it's time to start eating. Following this rule avoids uncertainty and allows everyone feel more at ease.
9. If you ever bring an offering of food to someone's place, whether for a dinner party or pot luck, always leave the left-overs for your host; do not take home left-overs of something you brought unless requested to do so by your host.
10. When in doubt, think about doing unto others as you'd like them to do unto you you - it's the height of good manners.