Mind your manners

June 6, 2014 

By Bill Filer

FILE PHOTO

My patience was thinning as I entered the password for a third time, typing ever slower and more deliberate with each keystroke. The password was fresh, having been prompted to create a new one not thirty seconds ago. Yet, I still couldn’t log on. Calls were stacking up, clients were holding, and the wheels of U.S commerce were grinding to a halt all because of a stubborn computer application that refused to cooperate. I anxiously pressed enter, and was rewarded with a system generated error message, in an overly large font and all caps, that read, “YOUR CONNECTION HAS BEEN REFUSED.”

Refused? I wasn’t trying to pick the computer application up at a bar. How can an app refuse anything? Another thing, considering the issue was clearly with the app, and not with me, I think the bold print, large font rejection was a bit unnecessary. It occurred to me that we have become so rude as a society that we even program system generated messages to have an attitude. What’s next, a pop-up message telling me I type like a drunk monkey every time I make a typo?

Fred Astaire once said that, “the hardest job a kid faces today is learning good manners without seeing any!” Those words ring true even more in this day and age. Do you think the dapper, tuxedoed Fred Astaire, while dancing cheek to cheek, ever whispered into the ear of his leading lady, "put down the fork, sister, you starting to pack on some saddle bags." Probably not, I’m guessing. What in the world has happened to our collective manners, people?

Not to be rude, but I’m having an increasingly difficult time tolerating rudeness in others. Not so long ago, courtesy, restraint, and manners governed our interactions with one another. Today we’re all walking around assuming the entire world is Facebook and Twitter where we can say and do anything to each other with impunity, and that life is better living like we’re the featured performer in an episode of Jerry Springer. Yes, I may absolutely believe that you ate paint chips as a child, butthe fact that I have to interact with you on the streets of my hometown, or at the office, should prevent me from gleefully telling you so.

Those of you who refuse to return a friendly greeting, open a door for a lady, allow somebody to merge into traffic ahead of you, or let your kid win at checkers on occasion, are not teaching valuable lessons about how hard life can be. You’re simply making a hard life more intolerable.The use of manners, the extension of respect, doesn’t mean you have to compromise who are as a person.

Saying no sir, yes ma’am, please and thank you doesn’t mean everyone else will do the same. Maybe, just maybe, however, if we raised the bar a little in terms of how we interact with each other, we can build a kinder, gentler nation one friendly wave at a time.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to throw my still non-functioning computer out the window. Rest assured, I’ll be sure to wish it well and tell it to have a nice trip.

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