Have you noticed that in recent years people have, in general, become less and less polite to one another? Have you noticed a marked decline in good manners and common courtesy? Have you noticed that everyone wants something from everyone else, but very few people are willing to give of themselves to another? Have you noticed that, in general, the workers in Customer Service departments have no clue what service means?
I have noticed all of these things and instead of getting better, I think we're getting worse. I've been trying to give people the benefit of the doubt by thinking that perhaps I've entered a stage in life where I can say that I was raised in different era, but even that's wearing thin. There's just no excuse for rudeness.
I can't tell you how many birthday party invitations I send to my boys' classmates that remain unacknowledged and unanswered. I clearly include an "RSVP by" date, along with a telephone number AND an email address. What can be easier than typing a quick note that says, "Sorry we can't come, but we hope you have a good time". My favorites are the Moms who call the morning of the party asking if it's too late for their precious little princess to join in the fun. Yes, as a matter of fact, it is too late. I'm very sorry they're disappointed, but my son was disappointed that you could not be bothered to respond over the last 2 weeks.
I can't tell you how may times my boys have attended birthday parties and never received a thank you note...not even an email thank you note, for heaven's sake. Not only is that annoying, it's rude.
If you receive an invitation, you respond. If you receive a gift (no matter how hideous you may think it is), you send a thank you note because someone was thinking of you and went out of their way to do something nice for you. When someone does something nice for you, you say "thank you". And when someone thanks you for doing something nice, you say, "You're welcome". How hard is that? The words "excuse me" and "please" are very handy, too.
And don't get me started on the grocery store. I can't count the number of times I've seen little old ladies in the middle of a crowded aisle, stretching to their full 4 feet in height, desperately reaching for that container stored all the way on the tippy top shelf with not a single soul offering to help. One little old man actually tried climbing up onto the refrigerator unit in the dairy aisle to reach a yogurt. It took all of 2 seconds of my time to say, "Oh, let me help you with that. Which one would you like?" At first his face registered shock and disbelief that I actually offered to help, and then his face glowed with the sheer joy of being helped. The look on his and his wife's faces lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.
While waiting to deplane on a recent airline flight, I saw an older woman trying to snag the handles of her carry on luggage with the hook of her cane because she couldn't bend over to pick it up with her hands. There were about 20 people standing around gawking at her, yet no one offered to help. So I stopped in the aisle (much to the dismay of all the people behind me who had very important places to be in a very big hurry), and said, "Please let me hand that to you" while picking the bag up for her to take. Again, disbelief showed on her face, followed by utter joy. Now was that so hard?
I'm sorry for ranting (apologizing seems to be another lost art, by the way), but I've found that more and more of us are being rude to each other more and more often these days, and I think it's time to stop. I've been busy teaching Religious Education to First Graders this past week, and if they can remember to use their good manners, the rest of us can, too. I don't care what your religion, when or where you were born and raised, or what your financial status, you can be polite to those around you - and that includes friends, strangers, AND family members.
We all want to be liked. We all want to matter. We all want to be acknowledged. We all want to have friends. We all want to be loved for who we are. And, as I've been teaching my students, we are all important and special in the eyes of God. If God says we're valuable, who are we to argue or treat each other as anything less than special?
So please, go out there and be kind. Use your good manners. Remember those magic words that Mom taught you - please and thank you - and use them often. Treat your friends and family the way you would like to be treated, and if, by chance, you mess up, say you're sorry. When someone apologizes to you, open your heart and extend your forgiveness. We're all human and we all make mistakes (yeah, I know some of them are whoppers, but, hey, some of us take a little longer to catch on than others).
Thank you for reading.