By Tony Hicks
Friday, April 24th, 2009 at 12:19 pm in Uncategorized.
I’m about to drive to Sacramento to pick up my daughter for the weekend, so I figured I’d post the column I just wrote for next Tuesday’s paper … just in case any of you out there drive up I-80 today and get the idea it might be fun to cut off some guy in a Saturn.
MSN.com today tried to explain why certain behaviors at the office are rude. It was a laughable concept at first glance. Don’t we already know that interrupting someone while they’re talking is rude? Don’t we know we should say please and thank you?
Don’t we know that taking a chainsaw to someone’s desk at work is bad form?
So I added that last one – maybe as more of a personal reminder than anything else. But in reading this, I was stunned to realize this gaggle of information could actually be useful to some (not me, of course. I have tremendous manners, thanks to years of private school. I just sometimes choose not to use them. Like when I cut a colleague’s desk in half with a chainsaw).
According to MSN, a Public Agenda survey found 48 percent of folks only occasionally hear “please” and “thank you” from others. Sixteen percent said they “never” hear it, which probably accounts for parents spending far too much time with teens.
Typical rude behaviors were listed: bad table manners, loud phone conversations, cursing, etc. The last two must’ve been added after the writer spent four or five minutes in a newsroom. But, as simple as it all sounds, it’s something that doesn’t get discussed nearly enough. People have bad manners. And it goes way beyond this list.
While my wife was pregnant, she rode BART to work every day. Even when she was obviously showing, she’d be forced to stand on a packed train. During all those months, not one man got up to offer her a seat. Women would occasionally offer, but not one man. A friend of mine said the same thing happened when his wife was pregnant and riding the train to work.
I’ve seen men walk into restaurants just yards in front of an elderly person and not only not stand aside to hold the door, but allow it to nearly crash into them. Any waitress can tell hours of stories of people behaving as if they’re British lords just because they’re paying for a meal. And it’s a good thing auto makers don’t offer optional hood-mounted machine guns, or else local roads would be littered with bullet-riddled shells of cars, formerly driven by idiots who cut me off at 80 miles an hour without signaling (my imagination upgrades to missile launchers when I have kids in the car).
I won’t even start on what I fantasize about doing to people sitting behind me at movies, who put their feet up on the chair next to me. All I know is that someday you’ll hear a story on the news about someone running screaming from a multiplex with their feet engulfed in flames. And you’ll probably have a decent idea of who’s responsible.
The war on manners is getting worse. Thanks to technology, we have people practically screaming personal conversations into cell phones next to us at the grocery store. Folks text message during discussions. People land helicopters in my front yard while I’m trying to sleep … it’s awful.
Why should we have good manners? It’s pretty simple. Manners help define us as being civilized. They help us get along. They help us empathize with others, which brings good Karma back around. And, in case you’re sitting behind me at a movie, they keep your toes from getting cooked. That can be a big plus next time you’re standing on a BART train.