Judith Martin gives advice on etiquette under the pseudonym of Miss Manners. Back in the day, when I actually subscribed to a newspaper, I regularly read her column. Sometimes I was amused by her responses, always delivered in third person. “Gentle Reader, Miss Manners does not approve”. Often I was confused by her archaic approach to modern situations. But lately I find myself longing for the kind of simple courtesy that Miss Manners holds in such high regard.
I recently got home from a business trip. Encountering boorish behavior is nothing new. What’s surprising is that it seems to be more and more the rule rather than the exception. Here’s a sampling of some of what I witnessed:
- A guy jumped in front of a group of us at the airport parking shuttle bus pick-up (we were huddled together in sub-zero temperatures desperately trying to stay warm and had been waiting in the cold for 15 minutes). As he shoved his way past the rest of us he explained to the driver that he couldn’t possibly wait for the next bus because he had overslept.
- A lady at the airport security check point insisted her yapping little dog be “treated with respect” - her words. She was demanding this respect from fellow travelers in a very loud and angry voice. Apparently some other passenger had frowned at the aforementioned puppy.
- A flight attendant told a beleaguered traveler that he would have to gate check his bag because “you people bring too much carry-on stuff “ and “it’s not our job to accommodate all of this!” In fairness it was a very full flight but the poor guy was just asking what he should/could do.
I know that we live in busy world. But can’t we be busy and courteous? Can’t we hurry and still be mannerly?
This is often my own struggle. And my great shame is that I could see myself in each of these individuals – the offenders; not the offended. My impatience, disregard for others feelings, and my self-importance was reflected in each of these actions. I believe that Miss Manners would, more often than not, disapprove of my behavior. What can I do? What should I do???
I’m going to start by remembering that simple courtesy is a luxury I can afford. I should be able get to my destination on time and also be kind to strangers. I believe that I can put others needs ahead of my own and still achieve my goals.
Gentle Readers, I promise to try harder to please Miss Manners.