Andrew Dys

A Hope and prayer for a world with manners

Betty Hope at age 65, after cleaning people's houses and helping rear their kids to make money to raise her own family, knows a thing or two about manners.

She's lived in Rock Hill all her life, and sure knows when somebody doesn't have any manners, either.

A recent day started out bad and got worse. Her 1984 pickup truck that she bought 10 years ago for $700 and still drives was overheating. So she had to stop and wait, then fill the radiator every time it got too hot. One of her four daughters had an unexpected trip to the emergency room, and Hope had to get medication from the pharmacy. Then, Hope had to be home by 2:30 to get her grandson off the school bus because both of his parents work, like in so many families.

Somehow, like this lady who is widowed always has, she found a way. She had that grandson in that overheating truck, and he wanted something to eat.

When you're retired and on a fixed income of about $900 a month -- that must be stretched to include the rent and light bill and that old truck that might need to be fixed -- a stop for lunch requires careful thought.

Hope pulled off at a fast-food joint.

"Figured I could afford it, make it a treat for my grandson," she said.

Inside, she waited.

A man, "In his 30s, probably, maybe his 40s, a big husky man who should know better," jumped in front of her in the line.

"I figured OK, just let him go, he must be in a hurry," Hope said. "My grandson kept asking when is our turn. I just told him to be patient."

The man dawdled in the line, looking over his shoulder and flashing a grin at Hope.

"He was smirking, that's exactly what he was doing," Hope said. "He was doing it just to be rude."

Another lady waited behind Hope. Both waited. Finally, both ladies left.

"I got outside, and this lady had a vanful of hungry kids, and my grandson sure was hungry, too," Hope said. "I decided to go back in."

She got her grandson something to eat and went home.

Then, Betty Hope prayed about what happened. She prayed about what used to be a world where men held doors for ladies her age, gave up a place in line and never would think about breaking in the line. People who asked, "How are you doing today?" and meant it. The days when nobody in the line at the bank or in a theater talked on a cell phone.

"And I prayed and I prayed for that man," Hope said. "I prayed because I was mad, but then I knew it wasn't in me to be mad. The Lord told me to leave it to Him, that He would take care of it."

Later on, Hope told one of her daughters, Benita Durham, a mother and recently a grandmother herself.

"Sure sounds like that man was just rude for no reason," Durham said.

I asked Benita what her mother had taught her, and her three sisters and her brother, and so many more, about manners.

"From the time I can remember, I can remember her saying, 'Always say thank you, and please,'" Durham said. "Be appreciative for what you receive. Be humble. Give to somebody if they ask, and sometimes, even if they don't ask. Try and help somebody have a better day after they saw you."

Jonathan McCorkle, Hope's son, said his mother was, "Always quiet, but firm. She was nice to people. She demanded the same from us."

Hope has no idea who that husky man was that day at the restaurant. She hasn't seen him since. But she has prayed for him.

I hope that guy hears those prayers, finds a tiny little older lady with the last name of Hope and lets her in front of him in line.