noun: politeness; plural noun: politenesses
1. Behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people. "He always treated me with the utmost politeness.”
One day last week I experienced behavior that has quite taken me by surprise in a very negative sense. What I experienced is something that I am very much afraid is a trend that is catching on to this generation, and seems to be becoming the norm.
The erosion of politeness.
I was taught by my mother that it was polite to be a gentleman and to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome when addressing someone, especially when you are helping someone or being helped by someone. But, as of late, I am heartbroken to see those kind, thoughtful, and appreciative words being taken away and replaced with rudeness and cold-heartedness.
I took my family out of town to visit Universal Studios in Hollywood for a quick getaway to enjoy some quality time. While in the park I decided to grab a beverage from a coffee shop. As I approached the barista to order, I smiled and was kind to her and asked for my drink, then I said “thank you” for her help. When I said that she just stared at me like I was speaking a foreign language, so I again said it clearly and loud enough for her to hear, “thank you.” She looked at me in disgust and said “yes.” The way she said it was in a cold voice and gave me the vibe that she rejects politeness and would have none of it. I was really taken aback by her behavior.
Well, after we left the park we went to the shopping area at Universal City Walk and went into a sports memorabilia store to browse and maybe purchase something. When I walked in there were two clerks working and I was not greeted or asked if I needed help. That’s not a big deal.
So, I was looking at hats and found one that I liked, so I handed it to the clerk and asked if she could hold it. I told her that I wanted to buy it but still wanted to shop a little more. She didn’t say one word to me, but only took the hat. So, I said “thank you” and she just stared at me coldly. So, I said a little louder “thank you” and she continued to just stare with a cold glaze on her eyes. When that happened I couldn’t handle it anymore and told her that now I don’t want to buy the hat and that I wouldn’t buy anything in there again. When I said this the other clerk who looked like an older respectable man said nothing and the clerk that I tried to get help from just stood there unaffected. Wow! This really shook me.
What has happened to the beautiful country that I was raised in? What has happened to common courtesy and decency? What has happened that even when I try to hold a door for a woman that I would be told by her that “you don’t have to do that!” in a condescending tone? Oh yes, I do have to do that! That is what is right and it will always be right regardless of someone’s attitude.
Men, please continue to hold the door for a lady. Children and people of all ages, please continue to be kind to each other and polite. Please say thank you and you’re welcome to each other. Parents, please pass on what your parents placed in your heart as a child. For the only way to stop the erosion of politeness is to be exactly what they don’t want you to be. Be kind. Be thankful. Be courteous. Be polite. It is still the right thing to do regardless of what this day and age tries to do otherwise.
Thank you for reading my thoughts and I hope that you will be an advocate for politeness.
Raymond Andreas, a native of Bakersfield, is a registered nurse who works on the cardiac/telemetry unit at Adventist Health of Bakersfield. The opinions expressed are his own.