The Lost Art of Common Courtesy

As I was driving into work this morning, I braked and flashed my lights on three different occasions in order to allow another driver to get over into my lane.  How many of those three drivers gave me a simple wave of thanks or acknowledgment?  None of them.  I was highly annoyed.  I believe the phrase that crossed my lips was, “What is wrong with people?”  It’s no wonder “road rage” is all the rage.

It’s not that common courtesy is completely gone, and it’s certainly not like I show it all the time, but it seems as if it is an endangered species.  Perhaps that is why it’s also something that is becoming increasingly difficult to instill in our children – at least in mine.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when they are all about the “please” and “thank you” dialogue.  But in the next breath they revert back to that “me first” battle that unfailingly leads to the “it’s not fair” blubbering.  In some cases, someone can even get physically hurt by the hand-to-hand combat involved in being the first one out the door.

The truth is that adults are really just big kids anyway.  Take what we see in our kids and multiply it by ten, and our behavior quickly becomes reprehensible.

There are exceptions.  Yesterday, I finally took some advice I had received from several people and visited a locally owned and operated pet supply store instead of the big national chain.  At Nashville Pet Products, the courtesy begins immediately.  They open and hold open the door for you upon arrival.  They ask how they can help and lead you right to what you need, and they are friendly in doing so.  When you’re done, they walk you to the door and hold it open again.  In reading reviews about the business, they apparently even carry your items to your car, in the rain, while holding an umbrella for you.  Impressive.  This is not to say that the unnamed national chain fares poorly in this regard, but they don’t go to quite the same extremes to satisfy.

I wish more businesses, and more people in general, would go that extra mile to put other people’s needs before their own.  Hold that elevator door.  Let that person with one or two items cut in front of you at the check out line.  And for heaven’s sake, give that little wave of thanks when someone helps you out in traffic!

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~ by suitenectar on August 5, 2010.

6 Responses to “The Lost Art of Common Courtesy”

  1. Extending little courtesies go a long way in biulding a caring society.

    Narayanan

  2. You do know Cub Scouts now has a Good Manners belt loop, right? I’m sure Girl Scouts has a patch that’s similar.

  3. Love Nashville Pet Products. They would do well in E Nashville- I bet.

  4. I miss those days of courtesy. I tried to let some lady in front of me at the store and she looked at me very suspect.

  5. My daily 40-mile-commute-each-way has been a true test in holding back road rage and exuding courtesy. I make a point to wave at least twice to the person who lets me in front of them…simply to be sure that they see that I’m grateful to them for their courteousness.

  6. This begs the question, “why are you being courteous, what’s your motive?” Is it to get a thank you or because it’s the right thing to do? If you do it expecting/wanting/needing an appreciative response you’re going to be disappointed. If you do it because it’s the right thing to do your reward is peace of mind…and a wonderful example to your kids.

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