I’ve been a regular guest on Caro radio station Mix 92.1 FM every Thursday morning for about a year and a half or so to promote the newspaper on the Northstar Bank Morning Drive-By. I usually get there about 8:30 or 9 a.m. and we talk until quarter after 10 or so. It’s pretty fun, actually, I just sit and chat with program director/on-air personality Derek Bosley.
Being on the radio is pretty cool, I have to admit. I was a little nervous at first about saying the wrong thing, but I’ve had good luck so far (knock on formica).
A lot of people probably look at being a journalist as a pretty fun job the same way I look at being a radio DJ, but if you talk to any reporter they’ll explain how we editors turn it into a lot of work. Derek explained to me that for every minute he spends on the air, there are probably five minutes he spends doing paperwork and the other tedious type of things it takes to run a business.
Usually we start out talking about the news of the week, sometimes we get into talking pro sports, and then usually in the last segment we talk about what’s coming up in Saturday’s Advertiser and what’s in the paper that’s on the newsstand from the day before. We have fun talking and we tend to run long most mornings.
Sometimes we talk about things people do that annoy us. Last week, Derek said, “Hey, I’ve got a column for you. Just rework it however you want and slap your name on it.”
While I like the idea of having a pre-written column all set to go, I also hesitate to just go throw my name on something without careful consideration.
So I read through Derek’s column Wednesday evening. In it, he writes that most things in the world change, but that some things shouldn’t — like manners and courtesy. Twice in the past month, Derek said he’s held the door open for someone who has then walked through the door — but didn’t bother to say thank you.
I was mulling over ways to incorporate Derek’s ideas and my ideas on the way people should behave in public when the same thing happened to me two times in the same minute.
It’s a little odd for me as a former short-order cook to have a door opened for me at times, although it happens more frequently as people invite me places as a guest. I’m used to being the one extending the hospitality and the courtesy, not the other way around. But I know that when someone opens a door for me, it’s polite to let someone hold the door for you — and as Mom used to ask “What do you say?” — you say “Thank you” as you walk by and perhaps grab the next door and hold it in return.
Thursday after our interview I had some business to attend to in a public building which is equipped with two sets of double doors at the entrance. I wrapped up my errands and on my way out a young lady of about 18 or so followed me. I held the first door for her to grab. No reply. I held the second door for her. Again, not a word.
Derek would be fuming by now, I thought. He had written: “The easiest way to acknowledge this is with, as mentioned above, a simple ‘thank you.’ (Previously, Derek estimated that it would take two to three seconds of someone’s time to extend some courtesy). Most — if not all — would be happy with a ‘thanks,’ ‘thanks man,’ ‘thanks bro’ or ‘brah’ and, if time allows, a complete ‘thank you.’ If for some reason you are experiencing voice issues from seasonal allergies, laryngitis or the common cold — offer up a head nod or smile. On a good day, I’ll even accept a wink.”
I’d be a little wary of a wink from the wrong person, personally, and as I read Derek’s column, in my head I could hear the voice of late 60 Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney. I could see that unmistakeable white-haired head framed in the television, his runaway eyebrows working furiously on a furrowed forehead.
“The thing is, you are not entitled to the door being held for you, and in most cases in present society, we are dealing with doors being slammed shut in our faces,” Derek seethed. “It should be a sense of relief or happiness that someone did you a solid and asked for only a word or two to even the score.”
Derek is two years older than me, and it seems he’s just ahead of me on that path to “Grumpy Old Man” status. Perhaps by next fall we’ll be broadcasting every Thursday from a breakfast nook, stirring Folgers crystals into cups of microwaved water and smoking the cheapest, most offensive-smelling little cigars we can find. During the commercial breaks we can work on our crossword scratch-offs or large print search-a-word books. Come to think of it, now that I’ve bought these new pants I’ve been hiking them up farther and farther. Maybe if I bought a size larger I wouldn’t need to wear a shirt, just pants to my armpits and suspenders.
I sent Derek a text message telling him I was going to work his column into my column, and the headline would be “Grumpy old men.”
He responded that he loved the idea, but had dibs on being Walter Matthau. I guess that makes me the other guy, Chet Lemon. Or was it Meadowlark? The memory fails me.
Anyway you rotten kids, if someone holds the door open for you, you darn well better say ‘thank you’ because if I catch you I’m going to paint your back porch red, and if I can find my cane you better run because I can still swing it. And another thing, if someone says “hello” or “good morning” to you, you say “hello” or “good morning” back, don’t just stand there gaping back at me like a lake trout. It’s darn rude, and you should know better.
Now get off my lawn.
Bill Petzold is the editor of the Tuscola County Advertiser.