Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where have all the Manners Gone?

            During the past few months, and actually much longer than that, I have had the opportunity to interact with some extremely rude people. When did it become improper to hold the door open for the person behind you, or am I just out of touch with reality? I always thought it was common courtesy when stepping through a door to glance over one’s shoulder to see if there was someone behind you before letting the door close. I think that I have been misled somewhere along the way; or maybe no one is practicing simple manners anymore. What happened to Yes, M’am and Yes, Sir?
Smykowski Bros. Grocery, 1922, located 31st an...Image via Wikipedia
            You might think that in a large city, this would be the normal behavior, but I am speaking about small town America, a place in my mind that means home-cooked meals and good manners. Yes, M’am and No, Sir are uttered by those just learning to talk as well those too old to mumble; and, holding the door open for the person behind you is second nature.
            When you went into a grocery store, the clerk was happy to see you and expressed it. She didn’t stand behind the register and complain about her work schedule to the next employee. The bag boy jumped to bag your groceries with the utmost care and then offered to push the buggy to your car and load your groceries before tipping his hat and telling you to have a nice day. Now, you have to tell the clerk that if she piles one more thing in the bag on top of the loaf of bread, you just might strangle her; and, just because the bag can hold more, doesn’t mean it should.
            I was in a local market and the two clerks were complaining loudly about their work schedules. The clerk checking my groceries out did not even say hello. Maybe I am wrong but what happened to “the customer is always right?” I even went so far as to mention that I knew the owner of the store, and maybe he would like to listen to their complaints. Unbelievably, they continued with their tirade.
            Before checking out, I had been strolling leisurely up and down the aisles looking at the new products and had to listen to two employees (one male, one female) threatening that a fight was going to break out if a third employee did not stay away from the employee whose conversation I was overhearing. I did my best to ignore them, but when they changed aisles when I did and kept up the litany of threats, I may have mentioned something about showing a little patience. The piercing eye looks I received has subsequently led to a slight memory loss.
            By the time I made my way to the opposite end of the store where the doors to the storeroom were located, I could hear loud voices and then bodies came flying through the doors. All I wanted was a gallon of 2% milk. I was more furious than upset when I left the store, and when I got home, I went to the store’s website and sent them a not so nice letter. I simply stated what had transpired and told them I would not be patronizing their store again and that I would be spreading the word why. When I go the store, I expect the employees to be civil if not friendly and helpful. I do not expect them to be condescending and threatening. I also do not expect to have to fight my way through a tangle of arms and legs to retrieve a gallon of 2% milk from the dairy case.
            When I check out, I expect a friendly smile and hello. After all, it is because of my patronage that the clerk receives a paycheck.
            What has happened to civilized society? I taught my children manners from the time they were babies. There is such a lack of courtesy in the world today, a lack of respect for our fellow man. Is it a trickle down from the world of technology in which we operate? There seems to be less and less time spent interacting with our fellow human beings. Where is the respect that was once so prevalent in our country?
            Every now and then, I do come across a Southern gentleman who holds the door open for me. When that happens, you can be sure that I flash him a huge Southern smile and an energetic thank you. 
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4 comments:

  1. I had a similar experience happen to me a couple of years ago. I had my grandson who was a baby at the time, in a stroller struggling to open the double door at Panera Bread. There was a meticulously dressed 20 something year old "professional" looking woman behind me. After watching me struggle to try to push the stroller and attempt to open the door, I finally turned around and asked if she could please open the door for me. She did but proceeded to give me a look like, "How dare you ask me to do anything?"

    I get so frustrated when I open doors for people and they don't respond with a "thank you." If they don't respond, I loudly say, "You're welcome." It's really sad the lack of respect that society has for others today.

    Hope that answers your question Donna!

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  2. Thanks Dianne. I have often entertained the idea of opening an Etiquette school. The biggest obstacle would be explaining what etiquette is. Saddens my heart.

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  3. I too have noticed the same things and I too have complained. However I have not confronted the offenders directly as with today's practices I feet it might escalate into something physical. It is truely a ME generation, all about ME and I even see it in the polite younger generation that I encounter. One of our pet peeves are the waiters that we encounter opening the introduction with "Hi Guys" or "Hi Folks" rather than a simple good evening or hello. Bringing the customer who ultimately pays there salary down to there level apparently elevates there ME status to continue the " all about me" attitude and in reality it all about the customer and your fellow man.

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  4. I received quite the lecture from Jeffery when I got home for confronting them. I just got tired of the bickering. However, when I think back on it, the contents and threatening tones of the conversation could very well have been indications of a more serious nature (gun) than my mind wanted to let me think. I guess I wanted to give a little more credit than what was due.

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