Uncommon Courtesy

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Andy Sauer

Andy Sauer

In the early morning of December 24, circumstances involving a sick child sent me to a 24-hour pharmacy in Enfield. The crunch of the last shopping day before Christmas was still a few hours away, and the scene was eerily quiet.

On the way back to Suffield, my son and I stopped at Starbucks to pick-up holiday-themed beverages for family members just waking up. As we were leaving, our hands holding trays of lattes and our bodies contorting to hold a door open with our backsides, a random person mercifully held the door open for us. We thanked him, and holiday greetings were exchanged.

My son observed that life was so much easier when people chose to be polite. “A little manners go a long way.” Too true. Manners used to be the norm; now it’s exceptional.

On cue, an older man carrying a newspaper and swiftly cutting through the parking lot, looked at us and warmly wished Merry Christmas. We smiled and responded in kind.

He took several steps forward, stopped and pointed to the Red Sox magnet on my car.

“Are you a fan?”


“Then you know me.”

Who are you?

“1975 Red Sox — Jim Rice in left, Dwight Evans in right. Who’s in center?”

That’s easy, Fred Lynn.

“Who am I?”

Fred Lynn? No….

As I stood there, mouth agape, comparing the individual in front of me with the poster of the player taped to the bedroom wall of my 11-year-old self, the man tucked the paper under his arm, smiled and walked away triumphantly.

I asked my son if the man just said he was Fred Lynn.

“Yeah. Who’s Fred Lynn?”

Among other things, the 1975 Most Valuable Player, the 1975 Rookie of the Year, a nine-time All Star, and – oh, yeah – my childhood hero.

Before you start to speculate on the many reasons why Fred Lynn may or may not have been in Enfield on Christmas Eve, let’s review: Fresh off a random act of kindness, my son and I exchanged holiday greetings with an older gentleman walking in a parking lot, and simple courtesy was rewarded.

How many times have you suspiciously assessed someone who greeted you? How many times have you looked the other way when someone approached you?

Wouldn’t you be glad that on the rare occasion you bump into a childhood hero you don’t recognize that you were a little warmer?

Think about that the next time you choose the colder path.

My new friend and I would say a little manners go a long way.

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