Where have our manners gone?

Angry GirlThis question has been asked since the beginning of civilization.  Every few years it seems our culture redefines what is acceptable behavior, and it seems we lower our expectations just a bit more every day.

Recently my husband and I were on vacation.  We decided to take in the buffet at the hotel where we were staying.  The line to be seated was long.  We didn’t mind as the line was moving along nicely and there was plenty of seating, and plenty of food.  A woman behind us began complaining very loud, whining and swearing about the ridiculous line.  Later that evening we were at an event, again we had to line up, again we weren’t concerned.  We knew we would get in to see the event and would have good seats.  A woman, not the same one, complained loudly about the line and her placement in the line, went up front and proceeded to complain to the poor worker at the front.  Of course to keep her quiet they let the woman and her companion in ahead of everyone else.

Have we become so spoiled in our society that more and more people feel entitled to have what they want immediately, regardless of what the rest of the group would like?  Have we become so ignorant of our surroundings that we no longer care about our neighbor?

People who work in the service industry are continually abused with bad attitudes and behavior by the customer.  Every day the employee tolerates being yelled at, threatened, and even spit on by the all – mighty customer.  Since the inception of ‘the customer is always right’ I feel this has led our culture down a one way street to condoning verbal abuse and bad manners.

When I was growing up it was considered bad manners to not give up your seat on public transit to the elderly or a pregnant woman.  Now it is common practice to hog your seat, because getting a seat on public transit during rush hour is akin to winning the lottery and it is now poor form to share this good fortune.

In a way I blame the media in part.  Yes I know the media is blamed for everything.  However what influences our culture the most?  Have you noticed commercials where the actors jokingly behave bad or have very bad manners.  I can see where it is meant tongue in cheek, but I can also see people taking this behavior on as if they just got permission to have bad manners.  If you don’t know what I am talking about I challenge you to pay attention to the commercials and you will see it over and over.  It is also present in almost any television show on at any given time.  I see the actors portraying rude people often.  Why do the writers feel it is necessary to have outright rude behavior in any show.  There are so many ways to create tension without downgrading to bad manners and pure mean rudeness.  People watch this and subconsciously say it must be o.k. to behave this way.

Abuse has gotten so out of control in public places that signs are being posted saying abuse will not be tolerated.  I would like to see these signs in public places like department stores and restaurants.  It isn’t fair that employees of any establishment are expected to put on the smile and bow to the rude aggressive customer.  Management, in my opinion have no right to place the dollar above common decency and standing behind their employee in the face of obvious abuse.

I am not talking about mistakes employees make or mistakes establishments make, of course the mistake should be corrected in a fair and equitable way.  Win win, not customer takes it all.

I don’t work in the service industry, I am a customer and wouldn’t dream of behaving like a spoiled brat.

However believe it or not, I still feel like we are on the right track as a whole species.  It is the few that have forgotten how to behave in public that make it seem like we are all heading down the toilet.

In this season of rushing around with extra things on our mind, braving the congested malls, dealing with increased stress, lets try to remember to be extra kind to the employee that is trying to do the job of three in half the time.  Most people who serve you want you to be a happy customer.  They deserve our gratitude and kindness, for without them what would you or me the customers do?

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