I had a friend in elementary school by the name of Russell Druce. I don’t remember much about him now except that he had red hair and class. I was playing at his house one day when I inadvertently broke something. When Russell’s mother discovered the broken item, she immediately asked Russell what had happened to it. His quick response was “I’m sorry. I was showing it to Keith and I dropped it.”
Now, I was a shy one at that age—afraid of my own shadow. Russell’s taking the blame for me was completely unexpected. I don’t think I would have done the same for him; in fact, I don’t think it would have even occurred to me. At that age I think I would have quickly placed the blame squarely on him in order to protect my shy little self. At any rate I was impressed and the incident has stayed in my memory all these years.
In his book, “Winners Manual for the Game of Life” Jim Tressell defined class:
“Class is respect for others. It is a deep and genuine respect for every human being, regardless of his status in life.
“Class is having manners. It is saying, ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’ It is complementing people for any and every task done well.
“Class is treating every other person as you would want him or her to treat you in a similar situation.
“Class never makes excuses for one’s own shortcomings, but it always helps others bounce back from their mistakes.
“Class never brags or boasts about one’s own accomplishments and it never tears down or diminishes the achievements of another person.
“Class does not depend on money, status, success, or ancestry. The wealthy aristocrat may not even know the meaning of the word, yet the poorest man in town may radiate class in everything he does.
“If you have class, everyone will know it, and you will have self-respect. If you are without class—good luck, because no matter what you accomplish, it will never have meaning.”
I remember reading a story from an unknown source entitled “Her Name was Dorothy.”
It goes something like this: “During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: ‘What is the name of the lady who cleans the school?’ Surely, this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired, and in her fifties, but how would I know her name?
“I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, ‘Hello.’
“I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
Ann Landers said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
Good manners are a measure of class. Dame Freya Madeleine Stark (1893-1993) said, “Manners are like the zero in arithmetic; they may not be much in themselves, but they are capable of adding a great deal to the value of everything else.”