The people of Boston have a well-deserved reputation as aloof, unfriendly and too often ornery; they are short on their please and thank you and when it comes to driving courtesy, they are are downright miserable. But a few days ago I found the center of good manners in Boston, in a most unexpected place.
My wife and I, along with members of our church, volunteer once a month at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter, where we serve the evening meal. This month the meal was a special Christmas feast of ham, carrots and potatoes along with some sweets. We served over 300 men in one hour, men who are not only down on their luck but often suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, various emotional and psychological disorders and of course poverty.
I can say without reservation that well over 75% of these guys went through the line, got their meal and immediately said either “Thank you,” “God Bless You”, “I Appreciate Your Kindness”, “This is Just Wonderful” or simply “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. Some even sang Christmas carols and laughed their way through the line.
On the way home the church members talked about the outpouring of appreciation from these homeless men and compared it to the silence and rudeness that they face everyday in their jobs; too often they see the unmannered Bostonians. Most were astounded that these men, who have next to nothing and will sleep on a cot or worse yet in a doorway, had the good sense and good upbringing to offer words of thanks for an act of kindness.
It was uplifting to serve these homeless men and to see that despite their misfortune, they haven’t forgotten to say thank you. We Bostonians can all learn a lesson in manners and gratitude from the homeless men at the Pine Street Inn.