Monday, September 10, 2012

Mind Your Manners, Son!

Not my son, per se.  My son is getting his manners down pretty well, saying “please” and “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”  He makes me a proud papa every single day.  That is, every single day he manages not to fall asleep during lunch and activities in daycare.  But that’s a different story about a kid that loves his parents so much that he hates going to bed at night.

The manners I’m talking about are the ones the majority of others on this planet seem to lack.  I mean, I’m thinking we all need a refresher course in how to treat others.  It’s like we all had the little angels and devils on our shoulders telling us how we should behave, except the angels all fell off, leaving only the devils to give us their evil guidance.  Because disrespect seems the norm, at least from this guy's perspective.  And I say, "Yuck!" to that!

Let me start with an incident that occurred a few days ago.  A person asked me to perform a very unimportant, IT-related task for her, but that task required about thirty minutes of my time.  She was incapable of performing this task herself, and it was my duty to assist her, so I did it.  I was extremely busy with other things, and I expressed this to her as politely as I could, but I still performed this task anyway.  I finished, received a “thank you,” and left.  I checked it off my list.  Yay!  Now onto more important matters, like saving the world from squid-like machines that use humans as batteries.  BUT...then I received a call from this person, a mere thirty minutes later, asking me to undo the task I’d just done for her.  No joke.  Now ordinarily I wouldn’t have complained, but this particular individual has become notorious for these types of requests.  Apparently the fact that I was supremely busy was completely lost to her, or else her own personal agenda was far more important than mine.  And that seems to be the case more often than not, I’m afraid.

We all have seen drivers on cell phones, talking or texting, driving erratically.  Check out my Twitter page (, @rastrohman) to see a picture we snapped of a teenage girl texting while using her wrists to drive—I’m just amazed at how she managed to do this without killing everyone else on the road!  This seems to be an epidemic!  Worse than an impending zombie apocalypse!  People are so self-consumed in their own little worlds that they can’t even put down their phones for the 10 minute drive from work or school to home or whatever.

There’s a kid at my son’s daycare whose mother is ALWAYS on her phone.  She works on the other side of town like us, and we’ve followed her for MILES to the daycare watching her chat on her phone.  She’ll even frequently pull up to the daycare or, unbelievably, pull over a block away to finish her call—taking as long as 10-15 minutes before going to pick up her kid.  Really, lady?  Your call is more important than picking up your son?  We’ve rationalized her behavior by speculating at her profession.  Maybe she’s a crisis counselor talking someone off of a ledge?  Or perhaps she’s a doctor or IT person like myself, assisting someone with some medical or technical emergency?  I doubt it.  She’s just one more self-absorbed person, mindless to the world around her.  I don’t even think she realizes how often we see her chatting away on her cell phone as her son sits and waits for her.  Poor kid.

Random statement here, but I like to sleep with my bedroom window open, especially in the spring and fall when the air has a chill to it.  However, I live on a long, flat road with a private club for war veterans about a half a mile away, and many of the patrons of this club ride motorcycles.  Every night between 1 and 2:30 AM, these guys go ripping down the road in excess of 50 MPH (the posted speed limit is 25 MPH) on their hogs.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love motorcycles.  I owned one a few years ago, and I plan on buying another when my kids are older.  But I’d never open up the throttle at 2 AM when people are sleeping.  Maybe on a highway, but never in a residential neighborhood.  That’s just freakin’ rude.  And Monday mornings are the worst for sleeping with my window open, because the garbage trucks do the same thing.  One of these days I’m going to go out there and snap a video of these garbage truck drivers doing 50-60 MPH in a 25 and send it to the company and the local police.  It’s not like I can sleep with their loud, obnoxious trucks driving by so fast anyway.  Manners, people!

Everyone has their pet peeves.  From a coworker with quirks to bad or obnoxious drivers to in-laws or lazy or insolent teenagers or whatever.  But did you ever just consider why we are annoyed so much by other people?  A majority of the time it’s due to a lack of manners.  People deficient in understanding how their own actions affect others.  People that hog up an aisle in a grocery store as they compare the prices of green olives or Ginkgo biloba vitamins.  People that go to public parks with their dogs and refuse to obey the leash laws.  People that constantly summon a waitress over because they need more ketchup/jelly/sugar/attention and fail to see the other patrons anxiously waiting for her to return to their tables to fulfill their needs.  People that just live in their own little worlds and don’t give a crap about anyone else.

I’m not saying I’m perfect.  I’m sure some random stranger has been pissed at me for driving too slow or taking too long to go at a green light when he/she was late for an appointment.  I’m sure my big body inadvertently blocked a grocery store aisle.  I’m sure someone was upset because they felt I was taking too long to perform a certain IT-related task (because I should be an IT fairy with a magic little IT wand, right?)  And hey, for all those people, I’m sorry.  I didn’t do it intentionally.  Because I really, honestly, straight-up try to have top-notch manners.  I pay attention to how my actions, however minute they may be, affect those around me.

Yes, I am conscientious.  When someone asks me to do something, I respond as soon as I’m able.  If I see someone approaching me in a grocery store aisle, I’ll move my cart over to the right as far as possible.  If I owned a dog, I’d keep it on a leash if we were out in public and people were around.  I try my hardest to pay attention to how I’m affecting others, and I rectify any issues before they even manifest.  I actually do give a damn.  But that’s just me.

Maybe all of those other people are just jaded.  Maybe they’ve seen too much selfishness in the world, and they’ve given up or given in and gone that route as well.  It’s a “me, me, me” world, and nice guys finish last.  Right?

Not me.  I’ll mind my manners until the day I die.  The question is: will you?

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