Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Today on my flight from Wichita to Green Bay, I witnessed an encounter that shocked me. A man on my flight (right across the aisle from me) was on his blackberry, looking at a plan of the Packer stadium. The flight attendant had gone into her shpeel about "turning off all electronic devices". The man ignored her. She told him specifically to turn it off. Again, he ignored her. Finally, she sternly told him that she wasn't going to tell him to turn it off again. The man flips out and starts screaming at her... "I'm turning it off!! What's your problem?!?! Bleep!! Bleep!!" I sat in my chair, completely stunned. How could a grown man (late thirties) act like that? If he acts like this to a total stranger, can you imagine how he treats his wife and kids? (he had a wedding ring on). This is not the first time I've witnessed a person act in a way that was completely lacking in common courtesy. On Friday morning at work, a customer was extremely rude to me, basically telling me that I should go to school to learn how to pack groceries in a bag (her boxes of groceries wouldn't fit into her bag and she was mad about that... I know how to pack groceries and I can guarantee that they wouldn't fit, no matter how they were arranged). In the end, she grabbed the bag from me and walked out in a huff. Again, a grown woman acting like a two year old. I expect such tantrums from children, not from adults. What has happened to just being nice to people, to giving people a little grace, to be polite no matter what? And it's not just a problem in the "common" people sector. Kanye West and Serena Williams are good examples of relatively famous people acting like spoiled children.
Why is this happening? Is it that parents aren't teaching their children how to act in public (and in private)? Is it that people think so highly of themselves that they think they don't have to treat others with a little respect and kindness? This is just another example of the breakdown of values in our society. Common courtesy, politeness, manners or whatever you want to call it is a value, and a very important one if our society is going to continue to function in a civilized way.
Until next time...

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