Picture this scene. A young Mum is waiting patiently in a queue at the local library. Her two lovely little boys are standing waiting too. Mum is weighed down with a few books and a 6 month old baby in her arms. A few minutes have passed. The boys are getting a bit restless.
‘Any minute now’, the Mum smiles. ‘Hang in there boys’.
‘Who’s next?’, asks the librarian.
Just then an older gentleman who is about 60 and has been standing behind the mother and three kids cuts in. The mum has never seen a person move so swiftly. Not a word is said. Mum silently fumes. Steam rises from her head.
‘Count to 10. It’s not important’, she tells herself.
Incase you hadn’t guessed – the Mum was me. These common social situations raise questions. After my frustration fades, I always wonder about these people and their outright rudeness. What’s going on in these people’s minds? Do they truly think it is acceptable to leave their manners at home? Or are some people simply self-absorbed and unable to consider other people? Do these people ever stop to consider how their actions may affect you or me?
I can’t help but find rudeness quite irritating. I do try to let it wash over me but rudeness seems unneccasary.It seems lazy. Have these people not took the time to adhere to normal social standards simply because they can’t be bothered today? It is inherently confrontational, makes people feel quite uncomfortable and disturbs the social balance of daily life. If we all decided to ignore social laws then consider the chaos that would result! It seems rather unfair that I try my hardest to follow social etiquette and try to not offend the general public (admittedly this is impossible) and yet there are some people who are only too willing neglect their manners.
Consider this – I am standing in a supermarket in a queue. I appear to be unlucky in the world of queues? Anyway, I am standing, waiting to be served. Most times there is a woman (I have no idea why it is always a woman?) who is sighing, huffing and puffing at the checkup assistant for taking a minute or two too long. Sometimes the woman will feel the need to say, ‘hurry up, come on!‘. The back of my head is feeling damp from all her deep breaths out.
Now call me crazy but no one’s life is so important that you have to make other people feel like a nuisance. I think what made this incident stand out is it was a day of huge grief in Australia. People had died and lost everything in the floods. This woman was complaining about being made to wait a few minutes. Most other people were subdued and lost in their thoughts about the plight of fellow Australians. Maybe that is it – these people are not living in the real world. They are absorbed in their own world, unwilling or unable to see other people around them.
So what kinds of rudeness really get on your goat? I’ve thought of a few that can grind a person down…
- Cutting in line/queue jumpers – This will never be acceptable, and if the person being queue jumped has a grumpy baby – that’s just bad karma!
- Bullying or intimidating – It’s not big, it’s not clever.
- Social exclusion – Some women and men NEVER grow out of their high school games. Just let them get on with it and ignore.
- Poor table manners – Hey don’t take the last piece of garlic bread without asking OK.
- Yawing, coughing or sneezing all over you – Just don’t!
- Loud music – If I’m not at your party, I don’t want to hear every beat.
- Using a mobile phone in an intimate/confined space – Go outside people! I don’t want to hear about every detail of your life!
- Aggressive driving – beeping, tailgating, cutting you up – What’s with all the anger?! Calm down before you kill someone!
Some days it can seem difficult to go about daily business without encountering some hot-headed, obnoxious or impolite person. But I believe we should hold on to the manners that have served us well for centuries. Our manners may be more diluted now than ever before (there is little doubt less importance is placed on manners) but we should not give up on our social graces. I’m not suggesting we need to go back to Victorain style manners but we do require good manners for the smooth running of our society. So next time we go to honk in your car because someone has taken a second too long to move, why not stop and think – the person in front could be having a terrible day, a lot could be on their mind. If we have to wait a second longer is that really a problem? Quite frankly no.
What do you think? Have you come across rudeness of late? Do you believe manners are less important today in 2011? Or do you believe we should try to adhere to social norms and remain polite where possible?