Please. Thank You. You’re Welcome.
I was standing in line at the local Subway on Saturday. It was lunch time, so there was a long line, each customer ordering multiple sandwiches, not the sort of situation in which I’m at my best. Four customers ahead of me, the Sandwich Artist said to a nicely dressed young man, What can I get you? Gimme a six inch roast beef on wheat, he replied. Would you like cheese? she asked. Nope. It was now the Veggie Lady’s turn to take over. What would you like on your sandwich? Lettuce, our nicely dressed man said. Tomato. Gimme a little onion and a few peperocini. And mustard. Not too much. Cashier’s turn. Would you like anything more, sir? Answer, No. That will be $7.45, sir. Money exchanges hands, and it starts again with the forty-something male gym rat in the workout clothes then the thirty-something woman in the designer jeans.
So, it’s Top Sites Tuesday and my Two Thoughts on Tuesday concern politeness. I’m sure you noticed something missing in this exchange. Yes, the common courtesy of Please and Thank you. People who don’t say Please and Thank You are one of my 456 pet peeves and I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, Don’t you ever say please? Instead, when the woman immediately in front of me did say please, I said to her, It’s so nice to hear someone say please. So many people don’t bother. It was said loudly enough that gym-rat and designer jeans could hear me, not that I think they noticed. It’s my experience that rude people are often oblivious people. It bothers me most, I think, that people are particularly rude when they are in one-up situations, dealing with people like fast food help that they might view as beneath them. I hate it that Please and Thank You are rarities these days … and You’re Welcome is missing in action. If you Google Please and Thank You, you’ll find most of the hits are children’s books and videos teaching kids to be polite. The Berenstain Bears may still be trying to teach our kids to say, Please and Thank You, but if Mom and Dad don’t do it, the kids won’t either.
I know, I know. Every older generation has looked at kids today and wondered where the world is headed, but it seems to me that all too often these days, the parents are leading the charge toward the precipice. Yes, I know, not saying Please and Thank You is hardly a precipice, but a society devoid of common courtesy is. Don’t believe me? Look at the paralysis of our political system. It’s time to insist on courtesy. It’s time for people like Jeremy Sherman to shut up. Who’s Jeremy Sherman? He’s an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making, who wrote an article on Psychology Today titled, Please and Thank You: Stop Saying Them So Much, Please! He spends over a thousand words considering the fine points of when you should and shouldn’t say Please and Thank You. For example: yes when it’s a favor and no when it’s an obligation. He gives multiple examples to illustrate his point, the adds, you should err on the side of saying “please” and “thank you” because accommodation and obligation are very vague and relative concepts. Really, Jeremy, what universe are you living in? Older Eyes and the Berenstain Bears don’t have to be evolutionary epistemologists to know … Thought One … we need to say Please and Thank You MORE often, not less, and … Thought Two … we should throw in an occasional, You’re welcome. The walk back from the precipice often consists of many small steps.
Now, Please push my button … gently … to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #187. Thank you very much. You’re welcome to post your thoughts in my comments section.
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