Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More about manners

The Roy sent me a link to this Op-Ed piece from the NY Times in response to yesterday's post, I'm assuming. Basically, the author engages in what he calls "reverse etiquette" by saying "I'm sorry" or whatever is appropriate to the person who should really be saying it in hopes that they will get the idea.

I consider myself fairly well-mannered*. I say "please" and "thank you." I say "excuse me" and "I'm sorry" when they are called for as well. I don't shove or push people around and I respect personal space while waiting in lines. But sometimes I'm distracted or deep in my own thoughts (the whole "being present" thing is a new concept for me), so sometimes I forget. I'm not perfect. Neither is anyone else. If I forgot and some guy said it for me and then told me why he was saying it for me, I have to say I'd be more apt to call him an asshole and walk away than to say (what I suspect he is hoping for in the long run) "Oh, I have forgotten my manners. I am so sorry..." See, I have a friend who does this--says "excuse me" to the person who just bumped her or "you're welcome" to the person who should be thanking her. It doesn't come off as "I want to help the world learn manners." It comes off as "it's all about me and how I am treated." Is Mr. Alford (the author of the piece) above reproach? Is he always courteous and kind? I say this because I have seen the same friend NOT thank clerks and NOT say "excuse me" when she bumps people or even intentionally bump people who she feels are not moving fast enough for her. She is oftentimes rude in a passive-aggressive manner, like the time we were behind a woman writing a check and she said, loudly, "Who writes checks these days? Who doesn't just use their ATM card?" Maybe the woman lost her ATM card or left it at home. Maybe it was the day before payday and she was being creative with finances. Maybe it's none of our business why she was writing a check and we should wait patiently for our turn. **

I agree with Mr. Alford; there is a serious lack of common courtesy and manners. I just don't think his methods are the way to go. The woman who said, "I'll think about it" probably thought about it all the way home and then told her husband or friends "You know what some jerk said to me today?" Maybe she didn't realize she had bumped him. Maybe the guy with the duffel bag didn't realize it either. I used to carry a backpack on the bus daily and I can't tell you how many times I didn't realize it was bumping someone until they told me. Give people the benefit of the doubt. That's all I'm saying.

*That being said, I have the awful habit of calling every driver who pisses me off "douche," although I usually refrain from flipping the bird. Also, the last time I was in McDonald's there was a large group ordering and they were all lined up across the counter because, you know, it takes all of them to make a decision. My order came up but when I went up to the counter to pick it up, three of the girls were leaning on the counter (spinal injuries, I'm sure) and didn't move when I politely said, "excuse me." I said it a little louder and got a backward glance from one of them but still no movement. Finally, in a moment I am not proud of, I said "Could you move so I can pick up my food, Jeez! Does it take a village to order?" Then shoved the girls apart and grabbed my bag and my OJ (oh do not mess with Laurie Ann before that first cup of coffee) (also I outweigh them all collectively). Yeah, I'm not always so well-mannered.
**I don't feel bad saying these things about this friend because she will tell you straight up that she's a bitch and that she hates people.
PS. This is the longest footnote ever and should just be a part of the post. Oh well.

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