I just finished reading Lynne Truss’ Talk to the Hand, a short look at how increasingly rude British society has become. She looks at six different areas of manners that, well, piss her off. It is bitingly funny, very cleaver, and all true. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that uses Eff Off so often, without being offensive.
Ms. Truss suggests that one of the reasons people are so rude now is that we are taking our personal space bubble just a little too literally. Just because we think that space around us shouldn’t be invaded without our permission (subway riding excluded), doesn’t mean we have the right to do whatever we want within our space. When we are in public, we are in public! I completely agree. I don’t want to see people making out on the street, or listen to someone’s overly loud phone conversation. While we may be on the go more often these days, there are still some things best done in the privacy of our own homes.
Ms. Truss didn’t really touch much on my personal pet peeves, though. I am really horrified by the almost total lack of common courtesy nowadays. When I was pregnant (and very visibly so), it was rare for anyone (even women) to give up a seat for me on the subway. Now that I am trying to manhandle a baby carriage through doors, it is a miracle if someone helps me out by holding them open. More times than I can count, someone has gone into a shop just before me and sailed through the door without a second glance in my direction. (Believe me, the stroller is bright red and very noticeable.)
I really don’t know what drives this lack of courtesy. I regularly hold open doors, give up my seat, say please and thank you to everyone, etc. It isn’t hard, and doesn’t take away anything from my life. Rather, I think it adds to it. Why not try saying “thank you” to someone today, or even better, say “you’re welcome” instead of the “no problem” that seems to jump so easily to everyone’s lips. See if it doesn’t cause the other person to smile, and maybe brighten up your day too.