Maybe it makes me a little backwards. Maybe it makes me a little old school. But I am a firm believer in manners and the fact that society today has lost all use of them. It’s one of those things that makes me incredibly mad. I was raised to always say please and thank you, to treat others respectfully. It’s kind of like that Audrey Hepburn quotation: “It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it.”
One of the most basic manners was taught to us (okay, reiterated to me) by Barney. You know it: “Please and thank you those are the magic words.” I try to say them whenever necessary because it’s the nice thing to do. Nothing makes me madder than when I do something for another person and they never have the decency to say thank you. Or when someone wants me to do something and they just expect me to do it, don’t even say please. Now, I understand that a lot of the time parents do teach their children to say the two magic words and children ignore it because they think it’s stupid. But when an adult does it, it’s just rude. Now, please doesn’t bother me as much as thank you. In this case, someone has gone out of their way to do something for you. A thank you is the very least they deserve. Maybe it’s my age and the fact I look younger than I am but I get surprised reactions when I do this. Whether it be thanking a waitress at a restaurant or someone who held the door for me, I say thank you because they did something for me. Many times I will get this look where the person seems to have not expected those words to come out of my mouth.
Holding the door is another big one. One of the rudest things you can do is let the door close on someone or not hold it open as you walk through and someone is behind you. This is especially true for men. It’s quite possible that I have been spoiled because my daddy has always been one of those rare men who still acts traditionally when it comes to women in this sense. He will not only hold the door for my mama and me but for other women as we are walking out as well. And if you are a woman and do not hold it for another woman, well, I hate to say it but you come off as a bitch. Anytime a woman does not do something for a person of her own gender she plays right into the stereotype because we are always supposed to be in competition and mean to each other. I think that’s why when I hold the door for another female, she usually never says anything and sometimes I get glared at. Sorry, just trying to be nice.
That’s another thing–saying sorry. I probably overuse it because I tend to see what I do as mean or inconsiderate even when other people don’t but it’s something that should be said. Even if whatever faux pas you committed was a mistake, just man up and say it. It makes the other person feel better. Accidentally bump into someone? Say sorry as you continue on your way. React to something in an overdramatic way (I do this all the time)? Say sorry for being that way (Yeah, this happens way more often than it should). It’s not like it’s a hard thing to say so just do it and move on.
Interrupting people in the middle of a sentence is another thing. Okay, there are certain times when it’s acceptable. If it’s someone you are very close with and know they won’t care (in appropriate situations, of course), then by all means, go ahead. However, if they are in the middle of explaining something (and you are not asking for clarification) or saying something they think is important, then stay quiet for the few seconds it will take them to finish. It’s important to them and if that person means anything to you, then let them finish. I don’t know how many times this has happened to me and I’ve just refused to say whatever it was I was going to say. If the person didn’t think it was important or interesting enough the first time I was saying it, what’s going to change the second time I try? This time they are only going to realize how rude they acted in the first place. (This is where a sorry for interrupting you might come in. Maybe then I will feel like speaking because you saw your rudeness.)
In relation, there’s the matter of talking about yourself. I get it. Just about every (not me) loves talking about themselves no matter what the situation. I’m okay with that. But how about stopping for about five minutes and ask the other person a question–giving them a chance to talk about themselves. If the person is like me, unless they are with someone who they know cares and will listen, they won’t talk. In these cases, I usually wait until spoken to before I speak (welcome to the world of my family and the reason they have no clue about anything pertaining to me). We are a society where the self is more important than the community (apparently psychology trumps sociology these days) but take the time to consider others.
The one that bothers me more than any other when it comes to lack of manners is tardiness. I’ll blame it partially on my anxiety because it triggers panic attacks but it annoys me either way. It’s one of those either you are 5 to 10 minutes early or else you are 15 minutes late. It’s just courtesy to show up on time at the very least. If you make plans for a certain time, you should show up at that time or a little early. It’s impolite to leave your friend waiting. If you are going to be late–okay any more than 5 or 10 minutes–call, text, do something to let the other person know you remembered your plans and are going to be there late. I have the habit of showing up way too early no matter how hard I try not to and that’s just as annoying but at least whoever I’m meeting does not have to wait around for me. The best remedy for tardiness–be ready and leave your house with enough time to get wherever you are supposed to be. It isn’t that difficult. Just be aware of how long the journey to the destination is approximately.
I’m not saying there are no manners left in the world. I think people just have to think about practicing manners before they do these days whereas it used to be habit. I’m not saying all chivalry is dead. There are still some guys out there who act like a gentleman to girls–even those he doesn’t know. I am saying that people should put a little more effort into being polite to other humans (It’s a generalization, I know, but I’m a sociologist and that’s our job. If you want the individual, I’ll direct you to the psych department). Maybe we should just all sit down and watch a few Barney and Winnie the Pooh and Blue’s Clues and Arthur episodes until we’ve learned to be considerate to others. Or better yet, let’s just sit down to some Nick Jr. and Playhouse Disney for a while.