08, 04, 2012

Didn’t Mama Teach You Better?

It may seem something of an irrelevant topic to tackle, but I have a question for you dear readers: Are manners still important today?

Perhaps it may be too broad of a topic to dwell on whole-heartedly but I wanted to touch upon it because I witnessed two incidents over the past week relating to that subject.

I recently started working at my former restaurant again as a server. Those who work in the service industry, constantly interacting with different people will understand that it is inevitable that we cross paths with “interesting” characters.  That’s what makes working at jobs like this rather entertaining. While, those who know me, will agree that I am easily amused – I, in fact didn’t find myself chuckling at an incident I witnessed take place at a few tables away from my section.

Here was this tall brunette with a cute bob cut and perfectly shaped bangs, wearing a classic black blouse, skinny tapered jeans and 3 inch heels to add to her already model-like height. Wine class in hand standing next to the door, arms crossed, tapping her feet – I passed by her aiming for my section when she stopped me and demanded I do her a favour. In a somewhat bootleg Demi Moore mixed with a chain-smoker type of voice, she exclaimed why I should explain to my coworker who was serving her table, why it’s OK for her to split from her blind date from hell (perhaps, she was looking for another woman’s perspective on the situation). Perplexed, I looked at my coworker with a “please clarify” facial expression.  In a nutshell he told me, “She is unfortunately unhappy with her blind date, does not want to go back to her table and she is requesting that I drop the bill off so that he leaves and she doesn’t t have to deal with him.” He did not look happy about having to do this (I mean, I wouldn’t be either. You question now where do you draw the line; you have to please customers and as much as you want to say, “Bitch, handle that **** on your own”, you just can’t).

Here’s the kicker. She hid in the woman’s bathroom, claimed she was waiting for one of her girlfriends to join her at a new table and urged a host to get her jacket that she left at the table.

I was stunned. Are you serious?  You’re a grown woman and you’re running away from a date?  Not to mention making servers and even bystanders, do you’re dirty work. That’s classy.

Granted, there are two sides to every story and maybe the guy was rudely inappropriate or a nut-job.  (For the record, the server of her table noted that this “date from hell” was really just a “date from Star Wars” – that’s at least what he observed.) The problem I saw with this was not the fact she had a bold opinion on the matter, but more so just the way she handled the situation.

In all honestly, maybe I’m being bias here because I felt bad for the guy. Here he was, round figured man with generic glasses and a little receding hairline, who was patiently waiting at the table for his date to arrive from a 20-minute washroom break. In my opinion, I’ve been on terrible dates before but that’s no way to treat another person. What you have to remember is it’s a date. It’s not marriage and sometimes, you just got to bite your tongue and pray to God that it ends soon. That’s it. Or she could have gone the blunt, but classier route and thanked him for paying for dinner but apologized for having to cut it short.

I understand there may be different opinions on this. Some may commend this woman on her “realness”. Fine, one point for her on being “real”. But the topic I’m dealing with is manners. And, there was lack of any in this situation. And frankly, it was painful witnessing it.

What I think you can gauge from this topic is this: I appreciate people who have manners and a virtuous civility.  A simple, “thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “Excuse me”,  “Pardon me” goes a long way. You know when you open the door for someone and they don’t say, “thank you” – it irks you. You end up shaking your head, rolling your eyes or murmuring “*******” under your breath. Come on, this is elementary. Didn’t your mama teach you these things when you were a kid?

This situation I’ve mentioned here regarding “the runaway dater” is just a detailed, more intense scenario of that ill-mannered person. Perhaps that situation also falls under the category of “Dating Etiquette 101” or “How to Stay Cool, Calm & Collected”.

Regardless of which, this situation has spawned the question of: are manners still important today? The answer to me is they should be and in times like these, when we’re so consumed with different things, we sometimes forget about the subtle differences manners make.

Take for instance another scenario I witnessed. From a distance, an old fragile man with his wife approached someone he knew to greet him, but when he reached out to shake hands, he simultaneously took his Oliver Twist cap off with his other hand as a sign of respect. Am I the only one who still thinks this is admirable? Call me old-fashioned and conventional, but forgive me if I think it’s refreshing to see, hear and know that some people are still having the decency to be polite.

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