Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Un Civil Union

Knowing I'm a bit beyond my years, having spent a good deal of my childhood with a woman who thought having polished silver could really turn your day around, I do actually expect to receive a thank you note when I send someone a gift. My husband reminds me, weekly, that this is not 1958; when did civility fly out the window? At what point in the last 50 years did it become acceptable to be thoughtless?

How about a response when I extend an invitation, I'm really not sure why that one is so difficult. Let's be clear, I'm not looking for the handwritten note telling me that you accept my kind invitation but a simple phone call. What about people who take a seat at Potbelly (or Chipotle) before they get their food? You know, one person waits in line for the food while the other takes a table, often from those who properly waited in line and are now standing, holding their sandwiches (or burritos) waiting for an open seat. If we all waited until we had food there might be a natural progression of table availability, and some kindness to others. I have a hard time understanding how someone can sit there with nothing to eat while there are others standing, burrito in hand. Aren't we a little too old to "save seats"?

For the past four years I have pushed a large double stroller around Chicago, winter, summer, everyday, in every corner of the city. I cannot tell you how often people ignore me, let doors slam in my face or walk past when I clearly need a hand getting through a doorway. What about the once common practice of giving your seat to elderly persons or pregnant women on the train or bus? Not so common anymore. I rode the train daily while pregnant, eight months of twins, often standing. At about month nine I started asking people for a seat, and usually they obliged, embarrassed. Jack and I were on a train together, without the girls, when a pregnant woman got on. He stood up, offered her his seat, and the woman standing next to her sat down. I then got up in a grand gesture and insisted that the overly pregnant woman take my seat. The original seat taker did nothing.

Some people are afraid of etiquette. Years ago I was at a bridal luncheon when I heard a guest (whose napkin remained in her water glass the entire meal) bellow out "this place is too etiquette for me". How? Doesn't it make sense to remove your napkin so that you might be offered water? This is not a trick question. And it's really not hard, it's kindness, and consideration. It's occasionally putting the needs of others in front of yours. It's opening a door for a woman, or man, pushing a stroller, standing on the train when an older person gets on, and thinking about what you do while you do it. It's not complicated or difficult. Stand up, move over, and don't push, there is plenty for all of us.


Toad said...


BonjourBruxelles said...

Ally, I couldn't agree with you more. It's the Social Contract. It's what I live by and am astounded by those that just.don' We're not third world (yet), we're not some wild frontier, we're a civilized nation (at least last I checked) and I'm forever peeved by those that lack the most basic skills in consideration.

Okay. Down off my soap box. But I can wax on and on on this very topic. And probably lose my consideration skills along the way.


Pigtown-Design said...

Agree 100%. People are just shockingly rude. Not to be nasty, but because they just don't know any better. It's sad.


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