BY: NADIA ZAIDI
We know that chivalry is more or less dead. But now it seems like chivalry’s well-known cousin, manners, has followed close behind.
I am really surprised by the amount of people who walk around with their heads so far in the air that they may as well be floating above ground level. The phrases ‘please,’ or ‘thank you,’ or ‘excuse me’ are simple and go a long way, yet many of us have forgotten how to use them.
As a writer, I’m more often an observer — of passers-by, interactions, and occurrences. I promise I’m not that creepy neighbour with a pair of binoculars. Anyway, I often note the way people speak to those who they perceive as “beneath” them, or unimportant bystanders. I must say, that my observations are quite disheartening and downright appalling.
I think we’re becoming a society that is so used to limited personal interaction that we forget how to conduct ourselves in accordance to the “real” world. I don’t think that we can entirely blame this on technology, but it is most certainly the camel’s straw.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in line at Starbucks and been baffled by the person before me. To simply place an order without acknowledging the presence behind the till is almost foreign to me. I could not fathom the internal rational it takes for someone to be that dismissive or entitled. I don’t care how bad your day is going, or how tired you are, or how much of a rush you are in. Nobody owes you anything, and nobody deserves the brunt of your burdens, especially another human who has to deal with problems of their own.
Of course this goes both ways. It’s disheartening to see service workers who have difficulty cracking a smile or even uttering a word. I once encountered a cashier who didn’t respond to a single thing I said. In fact, she didn’t even read the total to me.
Being polite and courteous doesn’t make you any less of a “cool” or “strong” person, on the contrary, it’s an extremely attractive and admirable quality. I don’t see how anyone could possibly glamourize someone who was rude, unapproachable and dismissive.
There have been numerous times that the door has been centimetres close to smacking me in the face. That’s because some people don’t think they should hold the door for anyone, or at least push it wide enough to accommodate the person behind you. I crave the days where it was commonplace to see someone forfeit their seat on the subway to those in need, or help an elderly person cross a busy intersection or carry their groceries.
Being polite, thankful and kind has never been branded as cool. It’s more socially acceptable to walk around like you are too busy, uninterested and disengaged to care about what’s happening around you. We have a problem. We’re unable to stand next to strangers in elevators without pretending to get wifi signals and cell phone reception.
Manners may not be dead, but they are definitely outdated, rare even. The world might seem like a better place if we all just chipped in a little bit, and acted like we gave a shit about someone other than our own selves. Small things go a long way. And please. Put down the bar on the conveyer belt at the grocery store. Is that too much to ask?