By Denise Kavuma, Uganda:

“Civility costs nothing and buys everything” a British writer once wrote to some long dead countess and oh, how I wish I could have come up with that. For one reason or the other, people in this age all seem too busy to be polite. It seems good enough for us to make all manner of appointments but always be late and never think to inform the other party. I am never more frustrated than when I am seated in the café, waiting for a late date. This person is not just late, no; they didn't even bother to inform you that they will be caught up and actually wait for you to call them 15 minutes past the appointed time, only for them to tell you that they're almost there, only to reach about 2 hours later. Friends and family will agree with me when I say that I turn into some sort of monster in times like these.

But civility is not all about punctuality. The commonest courtesy will get you to very many places. Making appointments before you show up at someone's place of residence or work and not just expecting that they're somehow doing nothing and so your visit will take priority over everything else would go a long way. Or perhaps sometimes just being honest about not wanting to go on a date with that badly dressed fella instead of lying to the poor dude and standing him up. It's simple really, if you're a waitress and I am paying your restaurant to give me the best service, then give to Caesar what belongs to him and you'd better do it with a smile on your face too.

It leave my ears ringing when somebody dials my number wrongly and hangs up immediately I inform them that I am not the person they're looking for without saying so much as a 'sorry;' doesn't take that much airtime does it? Then of course there are all these individuals who shovel past you, hit you with their flying hands or step on you without so much as an apologetic glance. And don't we all hate that dude in his large car who just can't seem to stay away from the water puddles or drive slowly through them and so gives you a second unwelcome shower that morning.

Is it so much to ask that someone simply confronts you before going around and saying all manner of unflattering things about you? Ah, yes, I understand that in this day and age, nobody cares and we are all far too busy making things happen in our lives that the age of etiquette is gone but come on! If we walk around claiming how well educated we are and yet not showing even the very basics of our learning by uttering our pleases and thank-yous, then I am afraid that civilization is far from us. Hold yourself to a standard and carry out these small acts that make life easier for many.

It is pleasing that with time, people have learned to be punctual when it comes to appointments with me, for a date or not, past 30 minutes of delay, I move on. I afford them the same courtesy of course and if I am to be late, I always let them know before the appointed time reaches. Say thank you whenever I so much as buy a soda from a shop and smile at the waitress who is serving my dinner (I don't want to end up drinking spit after all.) It doesn't cost anything at all to simply be nice…oh but it could get you into almost every place you want. It is said after all, that if you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

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