Can anyone tell me what on earth happened to basic manners and considerate behaviour?
I realize that I’m going to sound like a hugely self-righteous curmudgeon by posting this entry, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take in order to express the day-to-day, head-shaking amazement I experience at the lack of respect and common courtesy shown both to me and to others by so many of my fellow humans.
For example… the other day I was leaving Starbucks laden with a coffee in one hand, an umbrella in the other, a purse over my shoulder and tote bag over my arm. Because my hands were full I used my body to push the door open, and as there were two people directly outside who wanted to get into the building (neither making a move to try to open the door for me), I maneuvered myself and my belongings so that I was out of their way while at the same time holding the door open for them. It would have been a lot easier just to walk through the door and let them fend for themselves, of course, but that would have been rude.
So do you think I got a word of thanks for my thoughtfulness? A smile? A nod? Any acknowledgment whatsoever that I’d made life a little bit easier for both of them while inconveniencing myself on a busy, rainy morning?
Nope. Nothing. Not a word or gesture of thanks from either of them.
Of course I don’t do such things for the thanks… I do them because it’s WHAT YOU DO. It’s the way I was taught, to be thoughtful and to “do unto others” even when the “doing” is something as simple as holding a door open for a stranger. But those two simple words – “thank you” – would have meant a lot… they would have completed a transaction, as it were, in mutual humankindness. Instead, I made my way to work feeling vaguely irritated and disgruntled at the one-sidedness of the contact.
This incident, small as it was, illustrates my belief that we need a return to civility, to kindness, to common courtesy. And I’m not even talking about the big things, either. I’m talking about simple, thoughtful behaviour such as looking behind you when you walk through a door to see if someone’s there, then holding the door open for them, instead of NOT looking and just letting it slam in their face. I’m talking about taking your tray of lunch debris to the garbage can in the food court instead of leaving it behind for someone else to clean up. I’m talking about keeping your conversation with another person on a public bus at a reasonable volume and PG-13 level so as to allow others their privacy and comfort in a crowded place. I’m talking about worrying less about our own “rights” and behaving in ways that demonstrate thoughtful respect towards others.
And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, if we can all learn to be courteous in the little things, then civility and respect in the big things… political discourse, say, or religious beliefs… will follow naturally.