“Didn’t your mother teach you any manners, young man? Get your feet off the seat of that bench!”
“You talking to me, Pops?”
“Of course I’m talking to you. Is there something wrong with you that you don’t understand simple German?”
“You don’t have to be rude, old man. I’m moving already.”
“Look at that,” the elderly gentleman pointed at the bench. “Your shoes left mud on the seat. The next person to sit there will get dirt on his trousers.”
The teenager halfheartedly swiped at the seat, flashed the man a smirk and wandered off down the street.
“Young people have no respect today,” the man muttered under his breath as he searched the surrounding park area for a clean bench. “Something has to be done about this situation. I’m going to speak to the mayor about this.”
The gentleman’s complaint was not the first one Mayor Dieter Moerlein of Eppelheim, Germany had heard. As a matter of fact, the first of the mayor’s new park benches had been installed that very day. A design invented by the mayor himself, the new park benches had the seat section on the top of the bench. That way, teenagers who usually sat on the back of the bench with their feet on the seat could still sit on the back of the bench, which was now the seat. The seat would stay clean, and everyone would be happy.
The citizens of Eppelheim cheered, their problem solved by their ingenious elected official…except for one elderly gentleman.
“Why can’t we just teach these young punks some manners?” he grumbled the next day as he observed chattering teenagers perched like roosting chickens on the new benches. “We have to have new benches to keep them from behaving rudely? Bah! This wouldn’t have been tolerated when I was a teenager. I don’t know what’s wrong with people today….” Sadly shaking his head, he shuffled home.