The GBSS Hostel had only one written rule: ‘A breach of common sense is a breach of Hostel Rules”. There were other rules but they were spoken rules, warnings and adages both from Boys and from Hostel Masters. We frequently heard this from one Hostel Master: “Please and Thank you cost you nothing”.  In time one understood the implicit subtlety that we should be saying “Please” and “Thank You” as a matter of course. And in time we developed a repertoire of ‘common courtesies’, including ‘Good Morning’; Hello; etc, and a certain consciousness of what they mean. All of this has stayed with me and comprise a toolkit for what I call ‘honoring people’.

I am a people-person, and I feel good about greeting and being generally open to people. I recall having returned to Grenada in 1986, and while walking the Carenage with my daughter, I was greeting all who passed our way. My daughter’s half-comment, half-question was: “Daddy, you know everybody”. Well, the truth was that I did not know any of the persons I greeted. But I recognized the opportunity for a human contact, and to honor them with a greeting. And I considered their responses to be a return of the compliment, completing between us a circle towards creating a creative consciousness. If everyone you met told you that it was a good morning, it will be a good morning. But  I have to admit also a selfish but practical motive in being nice to people. I realized this in my advice to my children to be nice to everyone; the person you snub may be the one who comes to ‘repair your roof” or to save your life.

I loved those parts in the movie “Avatar” in which the actors look into each other’s eyes and say “I see you”. And I was especially taken by the advice to see, not with your eyes, but with your heart – recognizing the spirit in each other. This to me is the ultimate greeting – expressing oneness and interdependence; even though in transporting its use back to my Hostel days, I can hear some boy responding “Doing what?” and laughing at his frustrating attempt at separation.

I am sure that every GBSS Hostel Boy, armed with these common courtesies, would advance these courtesies generously, with whatever personal twist they might attach. If you are passing me by, I am 99% likely to seek to honor you with a “Hello” or “Good Morning”. But on your part, I have an expectation. When I address you with these words, and you reciprocate, I actualize you as a human being. Eye contact is a necessary condition, and combined with a greeting, is sufficient. If you avert your eyes or head or simply pass by, I say nothing and you remain to me only an idea, passing through un-actualized and easily forgotten.  I therefore place a ‘reservation price’ on executing the process. Not only is this good economics, it is also good common sense not to try to sell what people do not want.

Parents, Grandparents and Guardians have a responsibility to instill these courtesies at an early age, since at some time in life they would have to be expressed. I meet a lot of youngsters these days who seem unwilling or unable to do what is essentially simple, creative and rewarding. Maybe there is a feeling that there is only a limited amount of these to extend and they will run out (the cost). The truth is that courtesies are in fact part of our abundant creative power.

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2 Responses to MY HOSTEL LEGACY

  1. GJ Mc Guire says:

    Good manners maketh the man. This was deeply engrained in all generations of GBSS students. It is not surprising that Bobby has continued to express this theme in his writings, and to lament the apparent waning of warm personal greetings and courteous exchanges. His “Please and thank you cost you nothing” resonate from the lips of KIM,or the Mouth of HD Baptiste or even his favourite PG,all great Master teachers whose indelible messages at morning assembles enlivened the indomitable GBSS spirit.

    • bobby says:

      Though these words came to Hostel Boys from Mr. Paul Scoon – Hotel Boy, Hostel Master, and ex-Governor–General of Grenada – McGuire is right. They could have come as well from the lips of others of our teachers, including Mr. H.D. McGuire, his father. On reflection we would find that although some of the comments to us as students wounded our yet weak sensitivities, most of them carried lessons which not many of us appreciated until later in life. Many of us at this point in our lives, however, would like to say “Thanks”.

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