Last time we talked about loyalty (if you missed it, it is available in the archives section).  Today I want to talk about courtesy - and I’m going to ask your indulgence as I use a personal story to make my point. You have your own definition of courtesy and what it means to you.  It takes many forms; all of them good and I want to share an example that showed me what courtesy, and class, is - at least to me.

In 1970, my showband, Dick Caldwell & The Celebrities, did a three-month tour of S.E. Asia starting with my celebrating my birthday as we crossed the International Dateline on our way to our first engagement on Guam where we did three shows in one day at the Enlisted Mens’ Club, The NCO Club and the Officers’ Club.  Our dates in Viet Nam were cancelled due to an incident the week before we left but our tour did include  Japan, Korea and Thailand.  We did mostly military bases, some quite far “up country”, but we also did a night club in Tokyo, the Cho Sun Hotel in Seoul, and the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. 

During our first week at the Tiara Supper Club at the Dusit Thani we had in our audience, unknown to us at the time, representatives of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  The hotel manager informed me at the end of the week that the king and queen were taking over the supper club for a lavish private party for Her Royal Highness Ubol Ratana who was leaving to continue her education in the U.S.  I was told we had been selected to play for the Royal Family and their guests.

Besides myself, my group consisted of four musicians and two female singer/dancers. The king’s advance team noticed that the girls sometimes did high kicks.  The plan was to have the Royal Family sit ring side, right in front of the dance floor where we did our show.  Problem: It is forbidden for anyones’ foot to be higher than the king’s head. The planner saw two solutions - get a different band or tell the girls they had to change their  choreography and delete the high kicks.  Are you waiting for the point, and what it has to do with courtesy,and class?  The king said, “No, you will build a platform for our table so we are above the height of their kicks.”  It was done, the show went on and was a big success.  Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story:

It was well-known that the king was actually born in the U.S. and was a saxophone player.  My bass player was dating a local girl who was a travel agent. SIDE NOTE: One night he got to the gig with only minutes to spare and with his shirt collar open. He explained by saying, “I was running late and I left my Thai in my room.”  Anyway, we found out through his friend that the king wrote a song years before, when he was studying abroad, called “Hungry Man Blues”.  With her help we got a copy of the sheet music and put an arrangement together in time for our royal performance.  Not wanting to break protocol, during the show I just said, “Here is a very special dedication” and we played the song, during which time I forced a look at the king. He gave just a small nod and smile which was enough.

Build a platform. Do you see how this act of courtesy said so much about him and meant so much to us?  He saw it as no big deal.  Isn’t this what acts of courtesy we do for others should be like - no big deal.  But, as you know, little things can mean a lot.

This has been a bit longer than most of my blogs.  Thanks for sticking with me; I hope you’ll be back next time.


t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012