Thursday, 29 October 2015

Did someone mention manners?

There was an article in the Guardian about "manners". It was written by a young person who seemed to think that manners have changed.
She seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to bypass a restaurant queue and claim to have a reservation - even though you don't.
She seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to see the last available picnic table and run past the group walking towards it just so that you can grab it. Apparently that is "just exuberance".
She seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to answer your phone and send text messages when out to a meal with friends. Apparently we need to "get over it".
Sorry, these things are not acceptable. They are just plain rude. 
The first is also dishonest.
Instead of keeping my thoughts to myself and my paws off the keyboard I wrote a comment. I asked the writer how did she know that the people apparently "strolling" towards the picnic table were actually strolling. Perhaps they can go no faster. Perhaps they are politely keeping me company because I can go no faster. Is it also possible that they may need those seats more than that "exuberant" young thing?
As for answering the phone at the meal table that suggests that you find the present company offensive and would rather be somewhere else. There are exceptions to that of course. If you are perhaps a doctor on call or a doctor who knows that a patient you have seen that day might need to see you then yes, acceptable. No doubt such a person would explain to the rest of the group before hand. And yes, there would be a small number of other acceptable excuses.
If you are at an informal gathering and your mobile rings then I suspect the right thing to do is say, "Excuse me" and answer it off-stage. It's embarrassing for other people to feel they are listening in to the conversation. 
I don't think manners have changed. Manners are surely about respect for other people? Attitudes may have changed among some young people but manners?
Yesterday a friend brought her grandson to visit the Senior Cat. The ten year old and the almost ninety-three year old shook hands. They got along extremely well together - so much so that the ten year old is hoping his grandmother can find time to come again before he goes back to his interstate home on Saturday. The Senior Cat is more than happy to oblige - because the ten year old is not only intelligent and interested in what the Senior Cat was teaching him (magic) but also because he shook hands without being prompted. He said "thank you" without being prompted. It suggested that he respected the Senior Cat. (He was equally polite to me.) 
Good manners make things pleasant. They encourage people to do things for each other. If attitudes towards that are changing then I am not sure I like it. 


cristina said...

I totaly agree with you - I wouldn't have in younger years, though;-) But now, as a mother of little kids in charge of teaching them social basics, I see your point.

We are just plain polite to each other and the children hear a lot of "thank you" and "could you please..." in the course of a day. We never told our eldest to give thanks, he just does it because it is the normal thing to do at home. I saw quite often parents who would insist on their kid saying thank you but would never say the same TO their child - and then wonder why they refuse. In order to learn to appreciate manners you have to experience being at the recieving end as well.

But you can't keep chidren from picking up other things as well. I loughed a lot when our three and a half years old came asking if he could show me an "impolite" finger. You guess wich one. And I fear he learned this at home too:-)

catdownunder said...

that reminds me of the time my father was trying to fix a large bookcase to the wall. My two nephews were playing nearby. The bookcase fell and my father said something like "damn". The older of my two nephews, aged about four, looked at the younger one (about two) and said, "Papa swore!". The younger one just shook his head in disgust. The heard plenty at home from their own father but their grandfather never swore and they knew the difference.