Mind Your Manners!

When exactly did basic politeness and being considerate of others become passe?  Seriously, I must have missed that memo. 

I have always been taken aback when people are outright rude, I’ve simply never understood it. Until recently though, it was fairly rare that I’d encounter someone who was.  Over the last few years it’s been happening more and more and it’s getting to the point where those of us who still believe in using our manners seem to be in the minority.  Which is pretty damned sad. 

It all starts when we’re kids.  I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to be a polite person.  My parents instilled this in me as a child and it has never left.  They did something else too.  They set the example.  They expected me to be as polite to others as they were.  Never once did their expectations of me and my siblings seem hypocritical because I saw them behave exactly how they wanted me to.  I believe very strongly that this really helped to ingrain the behavior in me.  It would be one thing to be told to behave a certain way, it’s another to be told and to see it modeled for you all the time.  When you’re little you see it, you hear it, so you think, “ok, that’s just how we do things, I get it.”  It becomes part of who you are.  When you are told but have no example to draw from, it’s harder to really take seriously.  It’s like telling your kids not to swear but then they hear you doing it all the time - they will be hard pressed to take your instruction to heart. 

I see so many little kids these days that simply have no regard for others.  I was at the grocery store about a week ago with Josh.  We were behind another mom and her two children at the checkout.  The daughter was in her teens and the little boy was probably about 5.  At one point while their groceries were being checked and I was loading what was in my cart up on to the belt, the little boy took off somewhere.  Just as  they were at the end of their items he came running back from behind us, pushed me to the side and said “outta my way, comin’ through.”  He actually put his hands on me and pushed me to the side as he went by.  Not, “excuse me”, not even “I need to get by please”, nor did he attempt to slip past without disrupting anyone.  He simply shoved me over and barged through.  I was floored as was the gentleman behind me.  Not a single word from the mother to him or me, she just went about her business.  These are also the people who when the store staff wish them a good afternoon simply ignore the fact that they have been spoken to and do not respond.  How is this little boy ever going to learn how to behave considerately if his mother doesn’t do the same?  He won’t, simple as that.  I see this kind of thing all the time, this was not an isolated incident.  Josh was behaving better than that and he’s the autistic one! 

These kids grow up.  Unfortunately many of them grow up to be just as rude as adults.  In these days of constant distraction and self-absorption (let’s face it, Twitter has got to be the most ego-centric internet app ever ) people simply have no real awareness of what’s going on around them any more.  I can’t begin to tell you how surprised and genuinely appreciative the staff at grocery stores or restaurants are when I reciprocate their wishes for a good day or when I ask them how their day is going after they have asked me about mine, even when I simply say “thank you” and “good bye”.  I’ve watched person after person leave checkouts without responding.  I have stood in the middle of the school crosswalk and not only watched in amazement as car after car blows through the school zone going 40 instead of 20mph, but also in horror that they are not stopping, even though I am in fact, in the middle of the crosswalk.  Everyone has their own agenda, their own needs, and the rest of the world simply gets no consideration.  And yes, I consider the ignorance at the school zone to be the same as the rudeness at the grocery store. It all has to do with how you have learned to behave and respond to the world around you. 

I was at the train station in downtown Seattle over the weekend to pick up my mother who has come to visit this week.  Had Josh with me as usual.  As we were leaving the station, I held open the door for my mom, holding Josh with one hand and the door with the other and most of my body as it was an extremely heavy door.  I noticed that there were some people coming behind us who had bags so I continued to hold the door for them.  There were 3 of them.  I was letting the door close when one more was coming so I heaved it open again, maneuvered Josh out of the way, and kept it open one more time.  Not a single one of the 4 people that I held the door for thanked me.  Not one.  All of them women too.  I’m sure this is some sort of bad stereotyping on my part, but I expect more from women.  Not that I would think it was ok for a man to not thank me, but for some reason I was particularly offended that it was women who had been so inconsiderate. 

Things like this happen all the time. I think my point is that society just seems to have fallen in to this era of such intense navel-gazing it makes us poor examples for our kids.  I do my best to model basic manners and politeness for Zach and even Josh, who may well be the most polite, barely verbal autistic child out there - he says “please” every single time he asks for help.   Zach is a very polite kid and it gets noticed, adults love him.  He’s considerate and well mannered with people and I know he will be the same as he grows up.  Of this I am very glad.  If I haven’t managed to do anything else right, at least I know I brought up a polite human being.

He’s on notice though: any future girlfriends that do not say “thank-you” when he holds a door open for them will be history.