Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where did Miss Manners go?

These days you hear about it everywhere.  It doesn't matter where you are:  the dentist, at work, grocery shopping, the post office, car dealership, on the internet, in school or in the school pick-up line, or even in your own vehicle and in your own home.  It's there, ready and raring to rear its ugly head.  People complain about it regularly, but few do anything more than complain. 

etiquette, manners, what is manners

What is it that I am speaking of?  A great big lack of manners.  Good, old-fashioned, common courtesy manners seem to have fallen away.  It has been going on for quite some time but, about the same time that the world crossed the mark into the new century, the world also seems to have completely eliminated and tossed aside the one thing that separated man-kind from the animals.

I was recently walking in a store from their parking lot.  A mother with a stroller was a bit ahead of me.  Her stroller held twin babies AND a toddler and it was quite a lengthy contraption but one that I'm sure she was quite thankful for.  What bothered me were the people next to her who saw her struggling to open the store's door and try to maneuver this 18-wheeler sized stroller through it, and not a single person offered to hold the door open for her.

It would've taken what? an extra 20-30 seconds out of their time to perform a simple act of courtesy.  I walked as quickly as I could and held the door for her as she was trying to figure out how to handle the logistics of it.  I apologized to her for the lack of courtesy the others had shown.  And being a redhead, yes I said it loud enough to chasten those who had ignored her need.  It did make me feel better to see several of the women duck their heads in shame.

My husband went to the grocery store with our children last summer.  When they entered the store, my children saw an older gentlewoman having some trouble getting a cart, so they pulled one out and gave it to her.  She was smiling and thanking them as a woman, who was quite obviously in a gigantic hurry and had as much courtesy as an NFL Defensive Linebacker trying to sack an opposing quarterback, nearly ran the older gentlewoman over in her haste to get her own cart.

Upon departing the store's parking lot, my husband had to wait for an oncoming car before pulling out.  The same woman who'd been in such a big hurry in the store was now in the car behind him was obviously still in a big hurry as she laid on the horn and threw up her middle finger to tell him he was #1....... with her car full of children, and in front of my children.  My husband smiled brightly at her, and said "have a nice day!" and told our children that she was obviously having a bad day.  That happened last summer and my children can still tell you every detail of her rude behavior and how her face contorted with her anger to this very day.

Or how about a woman friend of mine who went to the car dealership to drop her car off for service a while ago.  The waiting room chairs were completely filled with 30-50 year old males, and one older gentleman.  All of the men looked up and saw her enter the waiting area and, upon seeing no vacant seats, stand against the wall.  Did a single one of those younger males offer his seat to this woman?  No.  It was the older gentleman who got up and insisted the woman sit in his seat.  Upon seeing this exchange, did a single one of the younger males then offer his seat to the much older gentleman?  Once again, no, not a single solitary one.  And while those men may have forgotten it, my friend still remembers - and she remembers that it was the older gentleman who actually was courteous and kind.

I recently heard about a mother who decided to teach her children to give selflessly of themselves for no reason at all.  She did this by taking her children to the local florist and purchasing a dozen flowers for each of them.  She then took her children to the local store and stood outside the doors.   They were to hand out a flower to any person they wanted and to tell them to have a nice day.  24 people that day were touched by kindness and generosity and 2 children learned that this life isn't just about their own wants, needs, and desires.

Manners and simple common courtesy don't have to go to the extent of bowing and curtsying these days.  The simple action of holding a door open for someone, or for a man to give up his seat to a woman, or to pull out a shopping cart at the grocery store for another person, or to smile at a person and hand them a flower and say "Have a nice day", can change someone's view for the day and quite possibly longer.

If we all spent a couple of minutes per day thinking about someone other than ourselves and performed a few simple acts of courtesy and kindness, our world would be a much nicer and more pleasant place to live.  What are you going to do to extend the hand of courtesy?

by: Christie Bielss

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