Recently, it’s come to my attention that something is missing in society. Perhaps you’ve noticed too. It seems that manners have disappeared. As a devotee of British mystery shows, I’m wondering if it would be prudent to put some detective inspectors on the trail, because if we’ve lost manners—which are basically human kindness—I’m deeply worried.
Just the other day, I sat in the whirlpool at the health club waiting for a swim lane. As is generally the case, I was relaxed and happy in all that hot, swirling water. Then a large man wearing a Speedo walked over with goggles in hand. When one of the swimmers signaled to me that he was done and I could have the lane, I smiled and walked out of the whirlpool. I nodded at the man who had just arrived, and, in jest, teased that I’d wrestle him for the lane. To my surprise he frowned. “What are the rules here?” he barked. “You weren’t standing by the pool waiting!”
“Um…I was trying to stay warm.” I gestured toward the spa.
He frowned again and continued to complain, which prompted me to bend at the waist and wave my hand toward the pool. “You take it then.” To my surprise, he did.
Anyone who’s driven a car lately, certainly knows there’s no civility on the road. A red light has become a mere suggestion to some. Other drivers cut you off, then flip you off for the smallest things. And when’s the last time someone held the door open for you? Be honest. That used to happen with regularity, but no more. And please don’t tell me holding a door is sexist. I hold doors for men and women, young and old. How is that offensive?
I don’t even want to mention basic table manners or the folks that think it’s just fine to play loud music until three in the morning. And let’s not forget those very important souls who talk incessantly on their phones in public, sharing their personal information loudly in restaurants and even public restrooms.
Understand, I’m not talking about using the right fork at dinner here, or a man chivalrously hurling his overcoat upon a puddle, so a woman won’t damage her dainty shoes. It’s just basic everyday human kindness I’m concerned about.
I suppose we could blame parents for the current lack of civility. Wasn’t it their job to make little Johnny learn “Please!” and “Thank you!”, and “Don’t you look nice today, Aunt Lou!” In fact, I read that home is the best place to acquire manners, since, as all teachers know, it takes a lot of practice to get something right.
Apparently, the decline of a more courteous world is not new. Fred Astaire, the charming dance-master of 20th-century American film, is quoted as saying, “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”
And now…a confession. I was once a reporter and an amateur sports official. It should come as no surprise that newsrooms and athletic fields are not always the most mannerly of places. So, when I became a teacher, I carried some of that behavior with me. A sweet colleague took me aside and suggested I try a little nice. “Just say good morning to everyone you see,” she suggested.
I thought the idea was silly, but still I gave it a try. And she was right. That small gesture seemed to make the day more positive. Though I’m now retired from the classroom, every day when I walk the dog, I smile and say good morning to anyone I meet. And though some people ignore me, others will beam a beatific smile my way and say good morning right back. It’s a little thing, I know. But a little nice goes a long way.
Maybe you’d like to give it a try.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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2 thoughts on “What ever happened to manners?”
BRAVO! Manners and kindness are definitely a thing of the past. Nothing upsets me more than young people eating like hogs at the trough with a raised foot resting on the chair next to their opposite thigh.
Exactly, Sloane! 😉