Common Courtesy Is Not Common

rudeOne of the things I find myself saying recently is asking what happened to common courtesy?

Sadly it is not so common anymore.

This afternoon I had a couple of errands to run to the library and grocery store.  When I arrived at the library there were two people parked in front where it is clearly marked “no parking”.  One vehicle was blocking the entrance to the book drop.  I waited.  The driver in the vehicle was talking on her cellphone.  She looked at me and gave a look of disgust and moved.  When I left the library and entered the parking lot at the grocery store the truck in front of me stopped abruptly and backed into a parking spot narrowly missing me.  Then once inside of the store, it was a complete free-for-all.  No one watched where they were going.  Shopping carts barreled out of the aisles and a couple of others nearly ran me over.

What is going on?

This evening was just one example of an alarming trend I have experienced all too often.  There is no thought of others.  Instead of common courteous it has become a common selfie.  Everyone is out for themselves.  If they don’t know you then you might as well be invisible.

Welcome to the age of rare courtesy.

If you need a reminder, a trip to the grocery store should do it.  Instead of thinking of others we are looking out for me.  It’s a me world now.  There is no thought to others.

Courtesy is defined as the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior towards others.  It’s not so common today.  You even see it – or rather hear it – in peoples language and total disregard for offending anyone around.  Profanity is totally out of control.  The harshest of ugly language has integrated into nothing more than common expressions today.  Believe me, if you say anything about it you are treated as if you are the strange one.  In my younger days, I remember when men used to apologize to any women around if they accidentally uttered any foul language in their presence.  Today the women have the men beat.

If it isn’t profanity, then it’s the loud voices or talking on the phone.  My wife recently sat in the waiting room at a car dealership with another customer who was on speakerphone.  The person was telling her personal business as well as her credit card number for all to hear.   You know she would be totally clueless if later she learned her credit card information had been stolen.

The bottom line is that people don’t care anymore.   Judging by the news, we only think about others when a horrible thing happens such as a shooting or hurricane.  Why do we have to wait until those times to show concern and courtesy to others?  Why can’t we do this everyday?

Here are some ways we can bring back common courtesy:

  • Put the darn phone down!   These smartphones have really made us quite dumb with interacting with people in the world who are not on our screens.   If you watch people you will see their focus is on that tiny screen more than what is going on around them.
  • If someone is talking to you, give them your full attention.   Again…put the phone down.  Also, don’t just wait for someone to stop talking so you can talk.  Listening is a lost art.
  • Be mindful of others.  LOOK when you open a door or push your cart out into an aisle.  How much trouble is that really?  Remember that there are others in the world besides you.
  • Be nice to people.  Yes, the person working retail has a job but that is no excuse to treat them like a second-class citizen.  You can make someone’s day by simply being nice.
  • Walk with others in mind.  When you are on the sidewalk or in a hallway walk on the RIGHT side if possible.  That’s how we drive here so let’s do the same thing when walking.  If you see someone else approaching, don’t play chicken just move over.
  • Use your inside voice.  Children are supposedly taught this (although I’m not so sure anymore) but we need to bring this back when talking in public.  If you can’t put the phone down PLEASE take it off of speakerphone.  Good grief people!
  • Watch your language.  Yeah, I know this may be silly but a vocabulary loaded with profanity isn’t really impressive.

“Common sense, common courtesy and common decency really do have a lot in common, they all disappeared around the same time.”

Okay, so we know some of the things that can help bring back common courtesy if we do them, how do we deal with people who aren’t being courteous?  We can’t exactly be the “courtesy police” because you know that has a potential for trouble or getting us shot.  I know what you are thinking because I want so badly to call people out on their inconsiderate behavior and have done so only to be told that I’m number one based on the other person’s hand signal.   So what can we possibly do about it?

  • We should be courteous regardless.  Be the model of how a person should act.  Don’t stoop to someone else’s level of inconsiderate behavior.
  • Stop and take a deep breath.  Yep, I’ve done that before.  After nearly getting a knee taken out by someone wheeling their shopping cart around the aisle, I have stopped and just took a deep breath.
  • Say “excuse me” with authority.  Sometimes people will get the point.
  • If the inconsiderate behavior is someone working in a store, bring it to the attention of the supervisor.
  • Call them out ONLY if you feel it is necessary and won’t escalate the situation.

We can only be responsible for ourselves so this lost in common courtesy falls on us all.  It goes back to treating others like you would want to be treated and that means even if they aren’t on your friends list on your social media app.  Shocking I know.  We’re supposed to treat EVERYONE like we would want to be treated.  We are all missing out on all the goodness there could be in the world if we would only think about others.

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