Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why I hope Judge Judy Never Retires

Those who know me know I'm one of the biggest fans of The Honorable Judge Judith Scheindlin. Her tenacity, self-confidence, and fearless approach on the bench create an atmosphere of  respect which I find incredibly refreshing. Although I do cringe a bit when she verbally spanks an unsuspecting plaintiff, or tells a defendant, "You're an idiot," I must admit that I admire her boldness to tell it like it is.

More than her boldness, however, is the way she upholds the banner for good grammar, proper vocabulary, and decent dress. "Where did you think you were coming today?" she asks, eyeing their outfit of choice. "Would you wear ripped jeans to a job interview or a funeral?" One poor guy made the mistake of saying yes. Her response: "You're an idiot."

A young woman appeared as a witness for the plaintiff wearing an outfit that showed way too much skin. Within five minutes Her Honor ordered the witness out of the courtroom to "find a shawl" and return more modestly covered. The girl had a puzzled look on her face as she made a hasty exit. She was either thinking "What's wrong with my top? I always dress like this." Or she was trying to figure out What in the world is a shawl?

Judge Judy keeps strict parameters in her courtroom. If someone gets into drama or tries to malign the other person, she strikes with her gavel and says, "Save that for another program." (Too bad we couldn't do some gavel-striking on Facebook.) If someone challenges or disagrees with her decision, she retorts, "They don't keep me here 'cause I'm gorgeous. They keep me here 'cause I'm smart!"

Her premarital counseling is off the charts. Sometimes she'll look at a female witness for the defendant and ask, "Who are you?" "I'm his fiancee," is often the response. Judge Judy has no problem saying, "You better think twice before you marry him. And if you do marry him, don't have kids." I wonder how many divorces she's prevented.

Judge Judy seems to be one of the last people to publicly uphold good manners, grammar, and respect. In a day and age when folks speak with sloppy abbreviations and wear ill-fitting clothes that don't leave much to the imagination, she's a lone but refreshing voice in the wilderness calling people back to decency and good old-fashioned manners.

I think our country will benefit from a lot more smart and a lot less gorgeous. What do you think?

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Common Sense of Friendliness

My husband and I enjoy eating at a certain restaurant--the one where you can eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. The food is fresh, but the greeting process is a bit canned. Their routine is so practiced that I could probably start working there today without any orientation.

The first time we ate there, our waitstaff escorted us to a table and, on the way, called over her shoulder, "So, have you eaten here before?" I thought it was a really nice touch and was moved she would even care that we were newbies. On ensuing visits I noticed the same question was asked at the exact same spot in the middle of the restaurant. It soon became obvious the entire staff had attended a training workshop where they were taught how to engage a customer in conversation by using this effective question.

I don't mean to criticize these hard-working people who are just trying to earn a living by serving fabulous food. But, I think the reality is that the staff probably don't even care whether or not we've been there before. They're just following orders.

Would you believe that another company actually pays its employees $1 more an hour just be friendly to the customers?

When did we have to be trained--or paid--to be sociable? I thought friendliness was common sense. Apparently not. Like the meeting I attended as a newcomer. The few people who were "trained" to be cordial did their job well. They shook my hand at the door, made sure I received the necessary handouts, and even sought me out after the meeting to see if I would come again. However, as I sat at a table by myself, dozens and dozens of people apparently not trained in the art of friendliness walked by me as if I was invisible. I left the meeting feeling like the courtesy shown when I entered was artificial and the members of the organization aloof. No, I did not "come again."

A wise person once told me that if something irritates us about other people, it's probably a flaw in our own lives. Touche. I can recall numerous times when I've walked right by people and haven't said a word either because I'm in a hurry or distracted--or disinterested. What about the times I feigned friendliness because it was my job. I wonder how many times people have considered me artificial or, worse, unfriendly. How many have chosen not to "come again." 

Common sense can speak pretty loud. Maybe it's time we listened.