Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calling Miss Manners

And now for something completely different . . .

I went into the bank today to drop off some paperwork for my day job. Like a boy whose parents and preschool teachers taught him manners (and whose children hear the message from Yo Gabba Gabba!), I stood in line while the two tellers were occupied. An older man came into the bank, walked up to a woman who was transacting her business with one of the tellers, and struck up a conversation. When the woman's business was done and she walked away, he set his paperwork on the counter and began his own transaction with the teller.

One of the first lessons we learn in school--if not the very first--is to stand in line and wait your turn. We used to call things like waiting your turn in line "common courtesy". The problem is, it's not all that common anymore. My parents didn't use physical punishment on me often, but my mother slapped me twice, and both times were for saying or doing something rude. I certainly don't live a life of perfect courtesy today, though I do try to be polite. I learned that lesson the hard way.

I hear a goodly number of senior citizens talking about how rude the younger generation is today. My word of advice to senior citizens: if you're going to complain about the rudeness of young people today, it might come over better if you didn't show a lack of common courtesy yourself. After all, we learned it from *somewhere*.

That doesn't excuse my generation or the generation younger than me. Whether we've learned the bad habits of discourtesy by example or just out of thin air, it's time to change. Whether or not the old man doesn't hold the post office door for you, it's time to hold the door for a lady or for an elderly person. Whether or not you receive thanks for doing something, it's time to thank the person who does something for you, even if they're only doing their job. And even if some old guy cuts in line ahead of you, don't be rude in return.

After all, maybe they don't have grandchildren in preschool to teach them common courtesy.

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