Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Hotel Clerks and Others.
    Most excellent gentlemen, I do but voice the
sentiments of thousands of individuals when
I assert that you fail to treat the public with that
consideration and courtesy which it has a right to
expect from your relation to it.
    There are a few facts concerning the world and
the people composing it which it would be well for
you to realize more fully than you seem now to do.
    Your attitude indicates that you feel you have
attained a position which renders it unnecessary for
you to be affable or gracious to your fellows; that
a haughty demeanor, a cold indifference, or a proud
reserve will impress the public with the fact that
you are personages to be approached with caution
and addressed with humility.  You seem to have
the impression that the public is an ill-bred bore,
whom you can tolerate only for brief moments of
time, and from whom you have nothing to hope or
    You forget that in a republic there is no such
thing possible as absolute independence.  We talk
about it, but it does not exist.  The President is a
bondsman, obliged constantly to be conciliatory
toward people who annoy him.  All public officials
are servants of those whom they feel to be their
    The rich merchant cultivates an agreeable
demeanor toward his patrons.  The famous actor is
obliged to win the favor of his audiences.  In fact,
every man is a servant of the devil.
    If you would remember these facts, it might
become an easier matter for you to unbend from
your high callings and lean down to us common
mortals with a little more graciousness in your
demeanor, and a little more interest in your expres-
sion when we ask you if we can obtain a room at
your hotel or a seat in your theater.  Yes, your
hotel and your theater.  Even were we to gaze upon
the legal documents which proved those buildings
to be the property of other parties, we should know
they still belonged to you, after one encounter with
    You cannot imagine the feeling of gratitude which
you would inspire if you were to merely look at us
instead of beyond us, when we ask you a civil ques-
tion--a question which you are employed to answer.
That you do answer us, and therefore perform your
duty, you will assert, no doubt, but we object to the
manner of your reply.
    Condescension, indifference, curtness, and even
incivility, in atmosphere if not in words, are what
we too frequently encounter, where you might just
as well bestow a little courtesy, a little air of sym-
pathy, and a seeming interest in our needs.
    I assure you, we would remain even more fully
impressed with the grand magnitude of the success-
ful institutions which you represent, if you gave us
to understand that you regretted being unable to
supply us with what we wished, instead of sending
us away with a sense of having taken a vulgar
liberty in addressing you.
    If you will make an effort to come down to our
level and to show us a little attention, we promise
faithfully not to presume upon your good nature
with any effort at further acquaintance.  We realize
your position and our own.  What we ask of you is
to realize it also.
    In closing this appeal to the austere majority, we
append our sincere appreciation of the delightful
minority, who do not need its counsels, and who are
entitled to our grateful thanks.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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