Posts tagged " manners "

Easy Living – First posted 4/2/09

October 10th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

I was in the supermarket this morning when I heard hysterical laughter, of the kind that I associate with teen-age girls, coming from the next aisle. My guess was confirmed when I heard a young voice say, presumably to a store employee, “Sorry. It slipped out of my hands.” I couldn’t hear his reply but a few seconds later the store’s loudspeaker system boomed with a request for a clean-up on aisle 4.

Shortly thereafter, I found myself in a checkout line behind two high school or college age looking girls. As they came to the checker, one of the girls said, “We’re the ones that caused the mess. You can charge us for two sugars instead of one.” The checker replied that there was no need for that and the transaction concluded.

A few years ago, Readers’ Digest ran an (admittedly unscientific) experiment where they dropped wallets with owner I.D. in shopping centers around the world and then recorded in which cities the wallets were most likely to be returned. There was quite a discrepancy, more than could be accounted for by chance. 

While I am far from a global, or even American, trotter, I have lived in and visited a number of places. To me, more important than the number of museums, the public transportation system or even the number of kosher restaurants is the stress level of daily living. I don’t quite know how to index that, but I do know that when I lived in Los Angeles, going to the supermarket was an arduous chore that I did as rarely as possible. Entering the library meant stepping over vagrants in alcohol or drugged induced stupors lying on the library steps. Driving meant being constantly vigilant against people trying to gain three seconds by not letting you change lanes or by cutting sharply in front of you.

Where I live now, in the Pacific Northwest, supermarket shopping is more of an excursion, an energizing activity that breaks up a work day. Whether I am errand hopping to the post office or bank, or dropping in at the library, driving around, parking and running in and out of buildings is enjoyable.

When I was a little girl, my parents instructed me, among other things, to stand to the side while waiting to get into an elevator so that people getting off would have a clear path; to give my seat on the bus to an elderly person, and to speak softly in public so as not to intrude on other people’s lives. I have a feeling that not pocketing the money from someone’s lost wallet never even had to be articulated; it was just understood.

My thanks go to the parents of the young women ahead of me in the check-out line who taught their daughters to accept responsibility. As far as I’m concerned, if every citizen learned that lesson, we could improve everyone’s standard of living without adding a single cent to the deficit.

 

Gentleman Lessons – originally pub. Nov. 13, 2008

August 16th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

“Gentlemen chew with their mouths closed.”

“Gentlemen don’t interrupt other people when they are talking.”

My four and five year old grandsons are giving me a rundown on their “gentlemen lessons” Their father, an authentic southern gentleman, imparts these bits of wisdom at the supper table. While the boys may not always live up to the ideal, they are forming a picture of proper behavior.

The other night, I witnessed another “gentleman lesson” being taught while watching a black and white episode of the old Leave it to Beaver television series. As a junior in high school, Wally Cleaver was maneuvered into escorting a less than popular young lady to a school dance. He was an unhappy camper, worried that his friends would give him a rough time.  His father explained to him that a gentleman’s only concern should be that his date has a good time. His own discomfort is unimportant.

I often hear pundits disparaging the “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” and “The Donna Reed Show” version of America. It is true that the image of an all white America where woman clean house in pearls and high heels may never have been an accurate depiction of the country. And the lives of the fictional characters portrayed may have been worlds away from the actual lives of the actors.

Nevertheless, I don’t think we should allow those shows to be so easily dismissed.

Is there any parent of a girl; white, black, Asian, or Hispanic, who doesn’t think it’s a good idea for boys to be taught to focus on a girl’s dignity and happiness rather than their own desires? Is it wrong to hold a picture of regular family dinners as a desirable goal, even if you are a woman who holds down a job outside the home? Isn’t it good for parents to be reminded that they, not the schools, not the community and not even their religious guides, have the responsibility of teaching morals, good character and proper behavior to their children?

I’m not a big fan of spending time watching TV. And the generation raised on these wholesome shows didn’t translate what they saw into how they lived their own lives. But I think might be a good idea for parents to watch a few hours now and then and be reminded that when you have children you have chosen a career and imparting upright values never goes out of date.

X