We need Emily now more than ever

Lack of manners and courtesy result of 'need for speed'

My nose isn’t broken, thankfully.

It survived the door crashing into my face.

Now you could have spared me the angst, young man, if you had had the courtesy of holding the door open for me.

But somehow that just seems to be too much of an effort.

It seems common courtesy and good manners have gone the way of the dodo bird.

Has our need for speed in this world – which seems stuck in overdrive –trumped the need to be kind and respectful to each other?

And please don’t blame the youth of today. After all, who were their role models? Likely their parents who are driving on our highways exhibiting road rage.

One thing is certain. We are all going to die, but you would think a few seconds delay on that trajectory would be a good thing.

What is the big deal about letting someone in traffic move into the lane ahead of you?

“Go ahead, buddy,” I am thinking. “I am in no hurry to reach the pearly gates!”

“After you. After all, it is difficult having five lanes merge into one. I bet you have had a tough day!”

“Please, I insist, take that parking space as I can find another.”

Smile. Hand wave. Honk.

Is that asking too much?

And elevators. Could you not wait patiently until the occupants of said elevator exit first before you descend upon them?

The same goes for alighting a bus or the SkyTrain. Common sense says you keep your cool and let the passengers get off first before you get on.

And what about offering your seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman? Or simply someone laden with parcels or with a look of exhaustion on their face?

Or fishing into your pocket for that elusive loonie to proffer to someone whose parking meter has expired?

It’s not rocket science.

A simple “please” or “thank you” would not go amiss.

Back in 1922, in a time when many believed that good manners were “necessarily elaborate,” Mrs. Emily Post was a pioneer in simplifying them.

She taught as the basis of all correct deportment that “no one should do anything that can either annoy or offend the sensibilities of others.”

Every edition of her book emphasized the basic rule of etiquette: “Make the other person comfortable.”

Her name became synonymous with good manners.

Today in the 21st century, we need you more than ever, Emily!

If you think good manners are non-existent in the real world, take a look at the realm of social media and instant messaging where pleasantries have been eliminated in favour of 140 character tweets.

Email etiquette. Abbreviated missives of communication reduced to the bare basics and devoid of nuance and niceties. Or no response at all.

And wait until you enter the minefield of online dating sites.

There should be a warning before logging on. Zoomers beware! Thick skins mandatory. Enter at your own peril.

It seems anonymity gives potential relationship seekers the mandate to be verbally abusive, rude and aloof if you aren’t totally receptive to their obnoxious and overblown overtures.

Rejection isn’t easily accepted as their “last word” dismissives and cutting comments will attest to.

And even when things appear to click, and you speak on the phone for hours and decide to meet in person, good manners go by the wayside as you are stood up!

It’s exhausting.

Let’s go shopping instead. You can carry my parcels and hold the doors open for me.

Please… and thank you.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.


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