Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where Did Manners Go?

I'm not sure what's wrong with people anymore. There seems to be such a climate of apathy*, a lack of common manners and personal pride. No wonder so many of the relationships I see are in trouble. People have forgotten how to treat each other. We don't care enough about strangers and we don't care much more about loved ones - not if you go by the way we behave.

I was at the store yesterday where a young woman with two  kids, one of them disabled, was struggling to deal with groceries and kids - in a rainstorm. She left her shopping cart near the trunk of her vehicle while she settled her kids in the back seat. One child was about three and, of course, she probably didn't want him taking off into the parking lot (like young ones will do). The other child, about seven, seemed to have a physical disability with controlling his movements. I had parked nose to nose with her and was getting out of my car when I noticed her cart starting to roll a little. Some impatient "gentleman" was trying to pull into the space next to her and the cart was in his way. He blared his horn over and over, for her to move the cart.  The poor woman was trying to finish seating the kids, but got flustered because this man would not stop. I went over and moved the cart out of his way so that he could lay off his freaking horn. And you know me: one day I'm going to get my ass beat from stepping to people who piss me off. I stood there long enough to give him a good shaming stare-down. When he was too chicken-shit to say anything, I called him a rude jackass. (I have angels flying around with their swords drawn to protect me from my own bravery, I swear.)

Why are people so damn rude and impatient? What was this man's problem? Did he think the woman had telepathic control of the cart? Was he in a hurry to get inside for his psych meds? What the hell? And I do know that I stooped to extreme rudeness in my reaction, but, damn.

I remember when it was almost everyone's natural reaction to hold a door for a person coming up behind. A few days ago, I damn near got taken out by a man shoving past me and throwing open a door to get into the library. People don't say "Please" and "Thank you." Kids are not being taught how to behave in restaurants (and, okay, baby D.J. is still learning), and no one seems to care about just being civil and courteous in public.

A friend of mine has a habit of belching like it's no big deal - no matter where she is. That's so ladylike, don't you think? Her excuse: "It's a natural bodily function. Everybody does it." As if "bodily" means "public" or "in your face."

In a conversation one time I said I thought it was rude for a man or woman to habitually (and loudly) pass gas around each other. I was told I was uptight.  One of the guys said, "It means you are comfortable around someone." (No - it means you don't give a damn. You certainly didn't make that first impression with a belch, did you?)

Maybe I am uptight, but I don't care how "comfortable" I feel with someone, I don't want to just blast out a belch (or whatever) around them. (Okay, wait - let me be totally honest: I will do it around my sister, just to mess with her!) I get it that "stuff" happens. Sometimes, it's cute and playful - like when my ex-husband would hold my head under the covers and threaten me with toxic fumes. Usually though, I try to maintain a level of respect for people. If I do burp, or - you know, do that other thing - I excuse myself (or try to play it off and hope it's' a windy day).

I'm sorry, but I think manners matter. You don't have to be a graduate of Emily Post to understand common politeness. With friends, lovers and family, I'm just not comfortable walking around, scratching my ass or blowing fumes all over them. (Obviously, I have no restraint when it comes to blogging about it all, but...)

My roommate is a chick who has no problem letting it all hang (or blow) out. We talk about it all the time. I harp on her the way my mother harped on me: "You'll slip up and do it in front of someone special."

We may be dysfunctional in a lot of ways, but my siblings and I are still courteous to one another. In public, my brothers treat me and my sister like the ladies we are. Of course, they will kill for us, but they also hold doors and walk on the outside of the sidewalk. (Then again, I have awesome brothers. Most of the time. Not that they don't give us a lot of sh*t.) My mother raised us to be this way. I don't know how I would feel if a man in my family didn't hold a door for me or treated me like I wasn't a lady.

I probably do sound like a throwback of some kind, but, oh well. I'm the woman who will not, for the first months of a relationship, let a man see me looking haggard in any way. (I'm still haunted by the nightmare I looked when I was in the hospital a few years ago: hair all jacked up, lips chapped and peeling... I don't even want to know what I smelled like after not being able to bathe for days. Ugh!) When I'm in a relationship, I keep two things on the bedside table: baby wipes for my face and a swig of orange juice for my morning dragon-breath. And men don't seem to have the same ideas, but I like being a woman. I think little things like that matter.

Yeah, so, let's get back to being nice people, folks.


(* Thanks, +Evelyn Blandino. My fingers were moving faster than my brain!)