Lately, I’ve been asking myself the question: are manners passé? Now I’m not talking about high-echelon etiquette or military customs and courtesies, but rather basic common sense manners. Being from the Midwest where “farmer manners” are abundant, and having also lived in “southern hospitality” Tennessee and in “Texas friendly”, I am appalled at the recent trend toward a total lack of respect for others. It’s not that I’m favoring one part of the country or of the world over another, because the slow decline toward rudeness is found everywhere!
According to Webster, manners are defined as “polite, courteous deportment”. For those of you wondering, deportment means “behavior or conduct”. Polite is also referred to as well-bred. Maybe today’s television shows, Hollywood films, politics and movies don’t reflect this kind of demeanor. We must be re-educated. Instead of picking up The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition (which contains everything from how to blow your nose at a formal function to what you should wear to a soiree), just learn the basics to get you by. May I suggest a few areas to begin with?
Manner 1: Hold the door for someone carrying several tedious packages while dragging a two-year old. I recently experienced this at the post office. Two postal workers were apparently on a break and chatting in the foyer. They glanced over at me, but never lifted a finger to help. Luckily, there are some good Samaritans out there…a woman noticed that I was struggling while trying to open the door and immediately got out of line to help.
Manner 2: RSVP when you get an invitation. This is a common pet peeve that I have heard from numerous folks. RSVP is a French acronym for “Repondéz S’il Vous Plait” or please respond. Maybe our lack of response is due to American’s recent distaste of the French, although I highly doubt it. Even in this day and age of the “e-invite,” folks still can’t send a reply to let the host know how much food to order! There are also those individuals who show up whether they bothered to RSVP at all. No matter how uncomfortable you feel…pick up the phone or email and give the sender a heads up!
Manner 3: Put away your shopping cart. What is the deal with this one? With the recent emphasis on obesity in this country, I would think that the extra exercise of putting your shopping cart back where it belongs instead of in the middle of a parking space or hitting someone’s car with it would be plus. Even when I am dragging three children in a snowstorm, I put my items into the car and all of us walk the cart back to its rightful resting place. Are we that lazy that we can’t even go back to the cart return? Burn a few more calories and do the right thing.
While I have mentioned just a few ways to reconnect with your inner manners, here is a list of other rude behaviors noted by some of my close confidants:
Talking on a cell phone while…. waiting in the check-out line, shopping at the grocery store, driving, in front of a sales clerk or during take-off/landing on an airplane. Are we really that important or do we have that much to say?
Foul language used …out in public, in front of children, in restaurants, directed at sales people, etc. Intelligent individuals can find other ways to express themselves!
Will manners ever come back en vogue? I don’t know, but for the sake of all those dinged cars at the supermarket and RSVP-waiting party planners, I sure hope so!
“Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson