Manners

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The children now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders …. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, and gobble up dainties at the table….*

I am astounded by the total lack of manners some people show today. Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by rude people with absolutely no respect for others and it makes me wonder about their upbringing. Sadly, this world has become a very impolite place to live in.

I would like to remind people of some fairly basic manners. Here are some of the most forgotten customs that I see that need to be brought back into today’s society.

I think the first set of manners that I was taught as a child was to always say “please” and “thank you.” Saying please and thank you shows good upbringing and is respectful. The one you are saying this to is a person and they are worthy of respect just like you are. Combine this with a “You’re welcome”, and you have a trifecta of good etiquette.

My parents instructed me that you are supposed to hold the door for anyone. It does not matter who they are, male, female, young, old, someone you love or someone you hate. You show respect to someone anyways and you hold the door open for them. I will do the same for you.

Excuse me, but I do not understand why we have forgotten how to say “excuse me” when we are trying to go past another person or when we accidentally bump into them. Since when did it become okay to bump into someone and act like it did not matter to you? Oh yeah, it never has.

According to gotquestions.org, saying “bless you” to someone could have begun in several different places. The most prevalent line of thought is it originated from illness. In 590 AD, Italy underwent a terrible plague and the Pope decreed that whenever someone sneezed, people were to say “God bless you” and make the sign of the cross over their mouths, to try to keep the individual from becoming infected with the plague.

Because a sneeze was a symptom of the plague, people who heard another sneeze and said “God bless you” took interest in the person’s life. So now, when someone sneezes, and someone else says “bless you,” they are displaying manners from a long time ago. This might seem like a trivial act, but it is something that can show someone you care.

It might just be me, but something that can tick me off faster than getting cut off in traffic is when someone you are talking to does not make eye contact with me while we are having a conversation. Eye contact is one of the keys to having a good conversation. People now days stare at their phones while talking to each other. When someone does this to me I just stop talking. Obviously what is happening on their small screen is more important than having a real conversation with me.  When you are talking with someone, look them in the eyes to let them know they are important to you and you are listening to what they have to say.

Interrupting and talking over each other seems to be a national pastime. Watch one episode of “Jerry Springer” and you will see what I mean. There are a few acceptable times when it is OK to interrupt, like when the building is on fire or saying “Watch out” to prevent someone from getting hurt.

You don’t monopolize a conversation. I know your life is interesting, but so is mine. I have things in my life that I want to share with you. However if you are talking so much and I can’t get a word in edgewise or you don’t listen to me I feel you are disrespecting me.

If you are over the age of five, you should know proper table manners. You don’t chew with your mouth open, you keep your elbows off the table, you don’t reach in front of others’ plates, ask to have things passed to you. You don’t talk with your mouth full and you ask to be excused from the table when you are done eating. I learned these things via the “wooden spoon” method. My mother had a wooden spoon at the dinner table and if you transgressed…………………… well, you know what happened.

I believe in good old fashioned manners. I believe that a man should pay for dinner on a date. I believe that a man should come to the door when he picks up a lady, not sit on the street honking his horn. I believe that a man should open a woman’s car door and hold doors open for her.

* FYI The opening paragraph in this article is taken from a statement made by the philosopher Socrates (469–399 B.C.). I guess some things never change.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport.

Kindness

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You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Glen Campbell 1969:

I recently ended up on the ground as I was on my way to a medical appointment. My legs just gave out. Several kind people came to my aid and they even called an ambulance for me. It got me thinking about kindness. There are many ways to show kindness.

When you find yourself waiting in a line in a supermarket and there is someone behind you with just a few items you let them go ahead of you. It won’t take much of your time and could make someone’s day. Be courteous.

When I used to take bike rides thru the city, I would greet people I would see sitting on their porch. They would always say hello back. Say hello to strangers when you walk past them on the street. Be friendly.

Yours truly walked into a local food bank with some cash and gave it to them. Donate anonymously. Just the act of giving is all the reward you should need. Most of us have clothing we have out grown or don’t wear anymore. Donate your used clothing to charity. It feels good to know you are helping someone out even if you don’t know them. Also you can donate your used vehicle to a worthy cause. Be charitable.

Upon witnessing three soldiers in desert camo going into a local sandwich shop, I circled the block and went in and paid for their meal. When I see a veteran with a ball cap indicating they had been in the service, I go out of my way to thank them. This also happens to me as well when I wear my Vietnam veterans’ hat. Make every day Veteran’s Day. Be thankful.

While working at a super market in my youth, one of my jobs was to go on “cart patrol”. It was especially aggravating to have to get dressed in my winter coat, hat and boots to retrieve that one cart someone had left in the furthest corner of the parking lot. Return the cart to the store or the cart corral if they have one. Be considerate.

Speaking of shopping carts, I give my cart to someone at Aldi and when they offer me the quarter, I refuse and tell them to pass it on. Sometimes I just push it into the cart collection area and walk away, leaving the quarter in it. It’s just a quarter, It’s not going to bankrupt me. Be thoughtful.

My wife likes flowers so I try to keep fresh cut flowers in the house every day of the year. Give flowers to someone for no particular reason at all. Be loving.

We all get frustrated in traffic at one time or another. However, simply because traffic is moving slowly doesn’t mean that we can’t let another driver into your lane. One additional car in front of you isn’t going to make you arrive any earlier or later. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves or shovel the snow for a senior citizen and surprise them. When I was younger, I used to snow blow all the way around the block. I figured I was dressed and out in the cold anyway, why not help people out. Be kind.

The next time you hear someone sneeze, say “Bless you” whether you know them or not. People rarely do this anymore. Be polite.

At some point in time, we’ve all had to call a handyman to help us out. The next time someone is at your house fixing something, offer them a cold drink. Let them know you value the work they are doing for you. You might get a higher level of service in gratitude and maybe the bill will be a bit lower. I know, I used to run a handyman business myself. Be appreciative.

Hold the elevator for someone. The few minutes you wait for someone will not affect your day but it may improve theirs. Be nice.

I have taken extra coupons to a fast food restaurant and give them to families with children or older couples. If you have extra coupons give them to other customers. Stop at a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink. It’s usually only a quarter. You will make them smile. Servers make their living on tips. Leave a big tip and the next time you go you might be treated well. Be generous.

Telling someone you like their work, their outfit or their haircut is the cheapest form of kindness there is. Acts of thoughtfulness generally cost you little and can make a person’s day better. Be Complementary.

Recently, I was at a Dance recital. At intermission, I had gone out to get something to drink and they were selling iced, bottled water for a dollar a bottle as a fund raiser. Unfortunately, the cooler was on the floor. Being as I have a balance issue, I asked the person in front of me to get me a bottle of water. She handed me the one they had gotten for themselves and bent over to get one for herself. When she did this I slid my way around and cut in front of her. I can only imagine what she was thinking. When it came time to pay, I paid for both of our drinks.

One good turn deserves another. Kindness starts with just one person holding open a door for another one and that person passing it on.