Manners use to mean something in our society. Parents chastised ill mannered children, we all said things like 'please' and 'thank you', and we would never dream of being offensive to another human being, at least not to their face. What has become of our manners? I don't claim to be an Emily Post expert. I don't care what fork people use when eating their salad course or the proper way to pour tea. The last thing I anguish over is what might be the proper way to address a person or whether a woman is ill mannered if she reapplies her lipstick at the dinner table. I am referring to the rude behavior of ill mannered people that we all encounter every day.
One of my ever growing annoyances is the new trend many corporations seem to have developed when hiring people to deal directly with the public. Is the question of people skills and training concerning the proper handling of the customer considered a priority before placing some of these individuals in positions of public contact? It seems instead, they have forgotten the importance of proper and polite customer service. It has been my experience many show a lack of understanding when choosing those who answer phones, ring up our grocery items and take our prescriptions to process. We now have a small army of sour faced and ill mannered people who don't like dealing with the public. Especially in larger retail outlets that have a store in every city and town. As a business model, whose main thrust is profitability, it seems inane to hire those types of individuals to deal with and sell to the public. It never ceases to amaze me when I am ready to pay for items I've chosen to purchase whether it be from department stores and discount giants or drug store chains and mall clothing boutiques, that I encounter an ill trained, unsupervised or just plain rude cashier or sales person. Do they not understand it is consumers such as you and I who enable them employment in the first place? Yet there they stand with the audacity to be rude. Just the fact that I find myself thanking them for my purchases instead of the other way around drives me crazy. Last week as I prepared to pay for about $500.00 of clothes for my teenaged daughter, the adolesent cashier won the prize for the most ill mannered sales person I have ever had the great displeasure of handing over my hard earned money to and did so willingly. This young woman actually spoke on her cell phone throughout the entire transaction and did not even acknowledge my presence for a moment. Her riviting and highly important phone call sounded something like this:
"Na aw, no way!"
"You mean she really did him?"
"Na aw, no freakin' way! In front of everyone?"
"Na aw, no way, was Brittany there?"
"Na aw, no way, was Tiffany there?"
"Na aw, no way, was Todd and Devon there?"
"Na awww, no freaking way!"*
(*The F word was substituted with the word freakin' and freaking so I do not appear ill mannered to any readers.)
Throughout this stimulating and obviously pressing conversation to which I was privy, she rang up the items, took my card, ran it through, handed me a receipt to sign, put the items in a bag and handed my purchases to me without as much as a "Hello" "Goodbye" or "Have a nice day" sent in my direction. The topper was when I said my first words to this incredible customer service giant.
"Thank you" I said with a tinge of sarcasm that she must have missed during her stimulating discussion, or perhaps she was incapable of grasping the idea of sarcasm. My attempt to show my disdain shot over her head and she took my money anyway. I did finally get a resounding response of "Uh huh.", without a single look in my direction.
If I did not have a teenager daughter who would literally die without her Abecrombie, I would have thrown the bag of clothing at her mildly zit infested face and walked out. Keep in mind that I didn't use the example of this teenaged cashier because adults or small children are exempt; they are not and that brings me to my next most recent brush with the ill mannered.
Driving is going to be the death of me and I don't mean due to a tragic car wreak. My brain will simply explode inside my skull if one more driver thinks they are the only person on our roads. Last week I was on my way to an appointment that is about twenty miles away from my office. I encountered so many incidents of ill mannered driving I don't have the time or space to list them all in this forum. First, I encountered those who can't read signs or just don't grasp the idea of driving at the appropriate speed in traffic. I found myself driving behind a man who obviously uses his vehicle for an office. I was driving in the left lane, otherwise known as the, "If you want to go slow get the hell over lane." or the passing lane, which ever you prefer. This man was talking on not one, but two cell phones, all the while taking notes and fixing his tie. He was driving 35 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone, blocking me and at least 20 other drivers from moving forward at our desired pace of slightly above the posted speed limit. He finally turned off the road on which he tarried without using his left turn signal. I blew by him with great restraint and didn't share my frustration with hand signals or a blaring horn. Within minutes I caught up with a large Cadillac about five miles up the road. At first I was puzzled. There seemed to be no one driving the car. Then I noticed the top of a shiny bald head barely peeking aroung the side of the head rest. "Great!' I said out loud, I knew what was coming next. I thought I knew what was next, he surprised me and not in a good way.
I fumed as I again found I was stuck behind a person who was incapable of grasping the idea that others actually have places to go and timetables to keep. I felt my blood pressure inching up to the danger zone. Then, for some reason unknown to me or I imagine anyone with a thought life, the man stopped. He came to a complete and full stop in the middle of a fairly well traveled road. My reaction was immediate, the kind of reaction that comes only after years of driving experience, I slammed on my brakes and prayed. The elderly gentleman caused the trail of cars behind us to slightly panic as they tried to avoid the cars in front of them and not swerve over into the busy right lane. The situation offered no means of escape besides a quick reaction time and a well maintained braking system. I missed the man in front of me by inches and the SUV driver behind me had been thankfully paying attention; he managed to stop just short of my rear bumper. Unfortunately the woman four cars back had her bumper squashed and trunk made to resemble an accordian by a large dump truck whose driver could not make the stop in time. I could hear several other collisions as they happened. The man who caused this mess started slowly rolling forward again, making a u-turn directly in the middle of uncoming traffic and drove in the opposite direction, not once even glancing at the mess he'd created and a mess of which I am pretty sure he was oblivious. No one was hurt, but ill manners could be heard everywhere.
My all time favorite rude driver act is the person that pulls out, right in front of you, keep in mind there is no one behind you for blocks and blocks, and this particular ill mannered driver proceeds to drive 20 miles per hour after cutting you off and then makes a turn, without a signal, at the very next corner. Oblivious drivers are selfish drivers and selfish drivers are rude drivers and rude drivers are mannerless louts.
I could regale you with tales of rudeness observed as the world has changed from cordial to the attitiude of everyone for themselves. I could write volumes about those who stand in the most public of places dropping F-bombs in front of little old ladies and small children. That was the scene at my bank last week. They seemed to have a limited number of words to choose from or they could of not cared less who they offend. My guess is a lack of caring by ill mannered people who refuse to consider others. The unbelievably rude woman that used to work at my doctors office deserves a paragraph of her own. She treated everyone with contempt no matter how she was approached and she was fired. She is now a greeter at Walmart. I could also try and explain what it feels like to want to slap someone elses child when I remember the little kid who decided to kick me for pressing the elevator button for my floor the last time I visited Washington D.C. After the incident, I listened to his mother laugh, as if it is somehow adorable for her child to kick a stranger so hard it left a bruise. Maybe I should have slapped his mother. I could try and explain how angry I was watching my seven year old daughter being pushed, with intent, out of the way at a wharehouse store. This was so that she wouldn't reach a free sample of potato skins before the three 250 pound adults behind her did as they grabbed what had just come out of the demo lady's toaster oven. That particular day I did express my disdain, loudly and with great feeling. Especially after one of the obese men managed to shove her into the shelving next to their free lunch. Then there was the little old lady who rammed me with her cart several times because she was angry I reached an open aisle before she did; I remember musing aloud that I thought the older you became the nicer you were, with the prospect of Heaven so close in the future. The woman who ripped a pair of Diesel shoes from my hands and ran to pay for them before I could even react is quite a tale. It was all because they were the last ones in her size and she wanted them badly. The incident shocked me so much I still haven't spoken of it until today. One of my favorite memories of ill mannered folks are the ones who attended the same Catholic Church I once did in St. Paul Minnesota. At the end of Mass we were required to shake hands with the fellow parisioners and offer the sign of Peace. Sweet gesture, isn't it? That was until you tried to make your way into the flow of traffic leaving the parking lot. I quickly lost any sign of peace when I encountered those same people refusing to let anyone merge in and leave the lot. Yesterday at one of my favorite eateries I was called a bitch by a woman who refused to take her screaming ten year old outside so the rest of us could enjoy our meal without the threat of a migraine headache. I made a face when he almost broke the sound barrier because mommy would not let him eat her cheesecake. But if I tell you all these things and many more I have observed, then it would be only fair if I told on myself.
I would have to confess all the times I've given other drivers the one finger salute for cutting me off, the times I said something unflattering regarding a stranger's choice of outfit or their choice to be obese; and many times a bit too loudly. I would have to admit to the many telemarketers I have simply hung up on or said something rude regarding my valuable time and the official Do Not Call List. There would need to be a confession from me personally that I've become less well mannered over the years after experiencing the rudeness of others. Most of us have changed drastically from the days when we helped our neighbors, genuinely listened to a stranger's tale of woe or been patient with some one who was struggling or slow or in our way for any reason. These days watch yourself if you deem to make our lives inconvienient for a minute or two. I think we have become a society in which manners have been forgotten in exchange for what we think we deserve. I am not exempt. I could rationalize this by telling you I'm never rude first or justify my good reasons for forgetting the basis of a well mannered society; The Golden Rule. Now what we seem to practice is the motto; "Do on to others before than can do on to me". We are the worse for it, at least I am, so today I am going to be polite and well mannered where ever I go and see what happens. People may just be polite in return.
If I find my experiment fails and people continue to be ill mannered, be careful if you cut me off. I know sign language and I'm not afraid to use it!