A Word to the Not-So-Wise

I realize that this post is going to make me sound like a cranky old lady. I’ve come to terms with that.

It’s time to bring back the concept of common courtesy. Recently, it has come to my attention that teens and younger may not be learning courtesy from their parents. While there are plenty of things I could say about the parents’ responsibility, that’s not my goal here. Let’s just skip the parents and speak straight to the target audience.

A man with his hands full is walking towards the door from which you just exited.

Do you
A. Keep walking, trying not to make eye contact?
B. Turn around and open the door for him?

The correct answer is B. However, more and more, I find that people choose A. Why? Do they tell themselves it’s not their problem? This is just one example of the lack of common courtesy I’ve seen lately. So let me state a few common courtesies that will benefit everyone.

1. Say “excuse me.” I don’t care if it was your fault or not. If you bumped into someone, stepped through a line to get to the other side, passed people to exit a row in a theater or stadium, or stepped in front of someone in the grocery store who was clearly looking at something you just blocked, just say it. It won’t hurt or cost you anything, and people around you will generally be in a better mood.

2. Say “thank you.” This is more about how you say it than the words themselves. Somehow, people can take “thanks” and make it sound pretty rude. So my advice to you is actually mean it! When someone at a fast food restaurant hands you your food, or a grocery store bagger helps you to your car, you should actually thank them. They just did you a service that you should appreciate, no matter how much you may take it for granted.

3. Do nice things even when no one’s watching. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone walk by a display in a store and accidentally knock something over and just keep walking. I know they heard it fall. Some of them even glance at it and walk away anyway. So I picked it up and put it back. Why not? The it’s-not-my-problem defense usually shows up here as well. Which leads me to the next one…

4. Take responsibility for your own actions. That way the nice people from #3 won’t even have to do that. Examples of this can be as simple as cleaning up something you spilled in the office kitchen, regardless of whether or not you have a cleaning crew, or telling someone when you use the last of something so they know they need more (like water in the cooler or chips in the pantry). It’s respectful to the people around you and shows how much you value (or not) the area you live or work.

5. Just think of other people. Although this is the underlying theme in the first 4 items, it covers so much more than that. Things like talking loudly on your cell phone in an area where people are obviously studying, not letting a car merge ahead of you on the freeway, or not telling someone that something has fallen out of their pocket are all examples of neglecting to think about other people.

So, even if you didn’t learn these behaviors from your parents, be the better example. Be like that cheesy insurance commercial; they have a point.

What are some examples you’ve seen of a lack of common courtesy?

Beneficent (adj): doing or producing good, especially: performing acts of kindness and charity.
If we all tried to be more beneficent on a daily basis, we could turn these attitudes of entitlement around!

2 comments on “A Word to the Not-So-Wise

  1. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57580598/no-problem-yes-its-a-big-problem/

    I totally feel you. Last week, there was this older woman walking out of the grocery store carrying 2 big bags. She obviously needed a handicapped space, but they were repaving the lot, so she had to walk kind of far to her car. I offered to help her carry her groceries. She said she was fine and declined. My 8 year old daughter was with me and asked me why I offered to help her. I told her “because that’s just what you do”. Seriously 10 seconds later, the lady asked for help. I sent my daughter over to help her. The older woman offered to tip and I said no, no…it’s just common courtesy. I got home and realized there was a whole slew of stuff that I was doing a good job of teaching my daughter (please, thank you, calling her friends parents Mr. or Mrs until directed otherwise), but I’m leaving out some other common courtesies. We have a new Summer agenda 🙂

  2. Stacey, I love that article! I’m going to be extra conscious about whether or not I say that…I don’t *think* I do, but I could be saying that and not even realizing it.

    Maybe times really are changing and these courteous words will be a thing of the past, but I don’t see anything coming up as a replacement. It’s not like we have new nice words to use, we’ve just done away with the nice part altogether. /sigh

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