Forgotten Manners

My husband and I are borderline obsessed with all things Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and the round-headed twat that is Karl Pilkington.  We received a regional DVD player for Christmas and are now able to catch up on standup specials and both seasons of An Idiot Abroad.  On our road trip to Tennessee, we listened to nothing but their podcasts for the entire drive down, and we often listen in the car on the way to work or while headed home.  On this particular day, one of the topics of the podcast was etiquette and manners.  They brought up the classes that used to be mandatory that would teach a person proper posture, which utensils to use while eating and how to use them, and other basic mannerisms to be used in daily life.

Ricky Gervais and I share the same opinion on people who eat with their mouths open; he went into a tangent on how vile and disgusting it is to see someone eating with their mouth wide open as if the world is dying to see their half chewed dinner.  He said his ideal restaurant would be one that was empty except for him.  Totally ridiculous proposition but I am also totally on board with him.  Go to a Mexican restaurant and you have countless people chomping chips with their jaw nearly unhinged, filling the room with the deafening sound of crunching.  One time at Applebee’s we were seated near a girl who was eating her salad the way you would see a squirrel munching on lettuce, only minus the cute factor.  Do I have to bring up the way people eat popcorn at a theater?  In public, people smack their food, lick their fingers, and generally act as if they had been living in a cave for years and are just now able to go out into public, unsure of how to act or what is proper.

It’s not just the eating habits that have convinced me that manners are a thing of the past, but it’s the general behavior of people one encounters every day.  At work, it’s a rarity I get a “thank you” for holding a door open for somebody.  This morning, I had to press myself against the wall because four people coming down the hall the opposite way refused to move to let me by.  Just after they passed, a woman shoulder bumped me after she and her group also refused to budge to let me pass, no “sorry” or “excuse me” or any effort to get out of my way, even though she and her companions were rudely blocking the hallway for everyone who was simply trying to get their workday started.  At my desk later, a man stood slurping his coffee loudly as I worked, then left the office with his coffee cup still on my desk, leaving a lovely ring.  Restaurant patrons, in both fine dining and fast food, treat the person serving them as a lowly servant and demanding things rather than simply asking “can I” or may I.”

The way we treat people around us is just disgusting.  I absolutely think that it’s important to put yourself first in life and ensure you and your family are taken care of and free from harm, but I also think this can be done without putting anyone else out and without becoming a hindrance to those around us.  Take personal phone calls in the office for example.  Your coworkers are attempting to do their job in the most efficient and stress-free possible way.  Should they be forced to listen to a 30 minute one-sided conversation while you plan your child’s wedding or schedule kitchen repairs, or should they be forced to miss you for a bit while you step outside to a break area or to your car to use your cell phone?  If you forgot to clip your nails before work, should your coworkers have to witness you clipping away at your desk, held captive at their own as you groom yourself, or should you sacrifice a couple of minutes at your desk and at least go to the restroom?  It’s slightly inconvenient to have to adjust your behavior in public, sure, but it’s even more putting out to be the person that is minding their manners but still forced to deal with people who can’t keep their vile and annoying habits in check.

It’s odd, but I encounter better behaved people at rock/metal concerts than I do in my office, in any given grocery or clothing store, movie theaters, malls, my former neighborhood, parking lots, medical offices, buffets, or just those you encounter while traveling from point A to B.  For some reason, the people who are thrown together with the common interest of whatever band is on stage also (mostly) all have this mutual respect for each other and manage to behave like civil and decent human beings, even with the alcohol and whatever other substances are thrown into the mix.  If a bunch of lunatics smoking weed on the lawn while headbanging to Seether can manage their behavior, why can’t everyone else?

I don’t consider myself to be old-fashioned, nor do I think I’m easily annoyed.  I wasn’t brought up in an anal household where I was made to eat without dropping a single crumb or dirtying even a corner of my napkin.  I didn’t undergo extreme etiquette training that has now made me into an intolerant person.  Quite simply, I just expect to be able to go through life without bumping into a rude and thoughtless person around every corner.  I’m considering asking Ricky Gervais if my husband and I can move in.


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on February 20, 2012, in Crazy People, Life, TV/Movies, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I think the majority of bad manners stems from one thing, narcissism.

    I am writing a post soon on it, but so many of our problems are because our society has become so self-absorbed, cooing with delight at our own belly button, tweeting and Facebooking even the slightest most mundane celebrations of mediocrity.

    Part of narcissism is being devoid of the realization that there are other people on the planet. If you take one of these narcissists and point out to them that everything they do is being noticed by people around them, they might realize how unpleasant it must be to watch someone chew their cud in a restaurant, or have a door slammed on them, or hear or watch someone clip their dirty nails. I don’t think they do these things knowing this fact and do it anyway, despite what they know other people think, I think the conscious realization that other people are aware, are watching, are listening, are around, and are impacted by what they are doing or saying never even enters their mind. They operate, in a complete social vacuum.

    Ricky’s dream to be eating in a restaurant alone is the narcissists daily reality.

    Here is a list of narcissists I routinely despise:

    My personal favorite are the people that get off the end of an escalator and then stop dead, discussing among themselves which way to go. Meanwhile, everyone behind them starts panicking and clawing backwards along the escalator to avoid the coming 15 body pile up.

    I also enjoy crowded public places where people are walking briskly and someone or a group decides to just stop short, causing everyone behind to slam on their foot brakes or turn violently in another direction, wreaking havoc all around them.

    Strollers. Strollers in crowded public places. Loathe. First, do you really want your 30 pound kid that is 1 foot off the ground trapped in a plastic box surrounded by hundreds of fast moving 200 pound bodies 5 feet off the ground just waiting for gravity and someone’s lost balance to create a nightmare scenario. Secondly, why do people with strollers feel like they have some god-given right to ram their way through a crowd? How many times have I had the back of my ankle whacked by a stroller wheel or gone head to head with a one of those duplex models only to be cut-off, or pulled up short on because somehow, them having a kid means the rest of the world stops moving for them. My question always being, perhaps this was not the place to bring your child? Followed by, perhaps you could have carried him/her?

    SIDENOTE – Someone please ban the BABY ON BOARD car signs. I don’t know what I am supposed to do when I see one. Does that mean if I am about to hit your car or someone on the sidewalk, I should hit someone on the sidewalk? But you at least have the protection of a car and they do not, so…..Okay, what if the someone on the sidewalk is a child? Is there a cutoff? If it is an adult it is okay to mow them down but what about a toddler? What if it’s another baby? What if it’s a woman holding two babies. Two babies trumps one baby so I should actually plow into your car and not her, right? I want to get a sign for my car that says SMARTER BABY ON BOARD so if someone has to choose between a BABY ON BOARD car and my car, they know who to ram.

    Guys who play loud music in their car and have the PASSENGER window rolled down with nobody else in the car. If it was just the driver window, okay…you are just irritating because you like to play loud music and maybe there is a reason you need the window down, for air or whatever, and you are in my airspace now…but passenger side down means you WANT EVERYONE to hear your music.

    Anyone who fails to use their blinker. <– IN THE TOP 3.

    • I am with you 100% on the stroller thing. When my little one was stroller-size, I wouldn’t go anywhere crowded (malls around the holidays, fairs, etc) because I can’t stand people bumping into the stroller due to their inability to see the damn thing or obnoxious parents who use the stroller as a way to get through crowds. Mainly, the second one bothers me. I’ve encountered so many entitled parents who act as though it’s my duty to stop what I’m doing and give them a wide berth because they decided to go Black Friday shopping with their 3 month old in tow. It sounds awful when I put it into words like that 🙂 but I’m not talking about the ones who are just trying to get from point A to B, I mean the ones who will ram your ankle and throw out “oops” and “sorry” when they clearly meant to hit you in order to get you to move. I could rant about this all day.

  2. Very nice info and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is truly the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

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  4. Nina Heffernan

    This is like people who turn into a shopping center driveway and then STOP DEAD and leave you with your car’s butt end sticking out IN THE HIGHWAY WHERE ONCOMING TRAFFIC IS GOING TO HIT YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, got a little upset. Why do people do this? Of course, why do these sorry twats get off escalators and stop dead? MOrons.

  5. portable dvd players are usually region free..just a fun fact for those who might not know

  6. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

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