The Bridge: Home Training

By Darryl James

There was once a time when we freely and openly talked about who had home training and who did not.

We held those conversations because most of us had home training.

Unfortunately, today, many of us do not.

Home training would make it clear to us that when someone does something for us that they did not have to do, a simple “thank you” is in order.

And, home training would make it clear to us that

But home training would also make it clear that there are certain ways to behave in public and certain things that are simply appropriate public decorum.

For example, where customer service was once the goal of every business, tipping customer servants has gone off kilter with it. Some of us tip well even when the service is poor, while some of us tip poorly or not at all, even if the service is great.

The age old stereotype is that African Americans are among the worst tippers, and whatever the case may be, we need not enforce the stereotype by showing poor social graces when dining out or otherwise receiving service in public. If there is a problem with service, let the person providing the service know, or inform the management.  Otherwise, a decent tip should be added to the bill if the service is good.

I realize that some of us refuse to tip because we are opposed to shelling out extra money in addition to paying for the service provided. But even if you don’t agree with the concept, you must understand that refusing to tip will only make it difficult for social venues to be interested in hosting African American-oriented events.

Tipping is a gracious way of letting the establishment providing service know that you appreciate good service.  We need to consistently send the message that African Americans appreciate good service too.

Good home training would take care of this issue.

You see, good old fashioned home training helps to keep up from reverting to chaos and anarchy.

For example, why would anyone expect to attend an event and eat for free, drink for free and not show some kind of appreciation?  No one is obligated to wine and dine you for no reason.  Therefore, if you are invited to a friend’s home for dinner and show up without even a bottle of wine, or if you are invited to a birthday party and show up with no gift, you should not be hurt when the invitations stop.

It’s not ass-kissing to take a small gift to the boss’s home when invited for holiday dinners or a minimum of flowers for the in-laws when meeting at their home for the first time. It’s good home training.

In a perfect world, people who sneak into wedding receptions would be beaten and tossed out. The families are already burdened with enormous expenses without having the added financial burden of last minute meals for people who either didn’t RSVP or worse, weren’t even invited.

And, ladies, how much sense does it make to go out for a night on the town with expectations that men will buy you drinks?  Such an expectation is one thing, but to ask men, or even demand that they buy drinks for you, or worse, for your friends as well is just poor social behavior.

Let’s say it together:  Nothing in life is free.

Some of us are confused on the concept of supporting our friends who are in business.  Your presence is not always enough. A business is shooting for profit, therefore, stop asking your friends if you can get in the club for free, if you can read a “spare” copy of a book, bring a few friends to eat for free at your friend’s restaurant or otherwise mooching instead of showing support.

If my friend or family member is in business, it is my esteemed pleasure to show up early and pay the full price.  It is also good grace to invite others who will do the same.

While some may argue that chivalry is dead, few want to admit that the lack of two simple words have ushered chivalry into its current ill state:  “Thank you.” From city to city, I have conducted a simple social experiment which I urge any of you to conduct or to observe–I hold the door for ten or more women and examine how many say “thank you,” or even bother to acknowledge the courtesy. I also observe how many men bother to hold doors–the numbers in both categories are few.

Drivers won’t let each other pass and they fail to thank each other; people go straight to assumption and insult before understanding; people curse at others while expecting that everyone else will take the high road; and everyone wants something without giving up anything in return.

Honestly, it’s not that complicated.

Some good old fashioned home training would make the world work a lot better.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles in 2011 and will be running throughout 2012. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at


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