Friday, October 7, 2011

Courtesy. What ever happened to it?

Courtesy, being polite, what has ever happened to it? Simple manners, please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me...all of these are so rare now.

Perhaps I am jaded as I come from Canada, generally considered the most polite country in the world. In fact, I've heard it said that Canadians are too polite? Is that even possible?  Things are different in the United States, I feel the people are more aggressive, but that is not totally a bad thing.  You can be aggressive and polite at the same time.  A funny thing that I noticed when I first visited the United States, when I say “thank you” for something, the response in Canada (every time) is “you’re welcome”; however, what you hear in the U.S. is “huh huh”, more of an acknowledgment.

However, what I am seeing more and more is a lack of courtesy, a lack of respect for fellow human beings.  So let me rank the three most common events of rudeness I see on a daily basis.

1.  Cell Phones – people walk around them like they are protective baby blankies.  It doesn’t matter where they are; restaurant, mall, car, school, park, work, and about anywhere else.  Now, I have no problem with people having their security blankets, I have a problem with how they interact with society when their cell phone is out.  If I am having a conversation with someone and they start to text (or answer a call), I’m gone, listen, that person is a jerk, has no respect for me or the conversation and is not worthy of my time.  I have seen this many times in restaurants, a couple sitting down for dinner, they place their phones on the table and are constantly checking it.  What?  The person across the table is not worthy of your attention?  In school, you are there to learn, and this is not only my high school darlings, but educators (adults) I have seen in class.  You are there to learn.  You playing with your phone is distracting, despite it being on vibrate.  Just the action is enough to draw attention away from the instructor.  Finally, do not use your phone while driving.  When, not if, you get into an accident, it will be someone else getting hurt, probably not you.  What is so important that it cannot wait until you reach your destination, probably less than 15 minutes away?  Really?  You people make me sick

2.  Driving – Hey, have you ever heard of turn indicators? You know that thing beside the steering wheel?  Really, it is a useful thing.  I found out a couple of years ago, that it using a turn indicator in Maryland is not a law.  It may not be a law, but it is the polite and courteous thing to do.  Aggressive driving is not unique to the United States; there is plenty of it in Canada.  Part of the reason I started to take the train into the city everyday from suburbia.  Is it necessary to speed?  To pass on the right?  To tailgate?  What is your issue?  You will save how much time in the long run?  Probably not that much, but in the mean time, you have put many people in danger.  Finally, how about letting someone in when there is traffic? Would it really kill you?  Just be nice to you people, let them in, you will make their day maybe.

3.  Manners – What has happened to basic manners?  Saying please, thank you, excuse me, and your welcome?  It sounds so much nicer than without.  It makes whoever you are asking maybe feel a little better about doing that something for you.  I don’t know how many times I hear a child say “Can I have this?” no “please”, but then no admonishment from the parents.  When someone gets something, there is no “thank you”, sometimes there is barely an acknowledgment that something was done for them. 

I am so disgusted by this.  And do you know what is interesting (sad?), this is happening on a more regular basis.  I try to lead by example in class, at work, when I’m out.  And I’m not the only one who sees this.  I think it is time we start treat everyone with respect, dignity, and courtesy.  Whether you know that person or not.  Think about this the next time you think a text message is more important than the people you are around.  If not, our world, our society is done!

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