Watch Your Manners

Today’s blog will mostly consist of me ranting. If this isn’t your thing, then turn away now. Go find a flowery, happy blog where people sing songs about unicorns, rainbows and fluffy bunnies. Because this morning, I am annoyed.

What has been the cause of these feelings of blood pressure increasing, twitch-inducing rage? Is it something in the news? Is it something I saw on TV? Is it the fact that I had to do all my ironing last night? Was it something on an internet forum? No. It was none of these.

What has brought on my rage is a selection of employees in this place who are seriously lacking in manners.

Over the six years I’ve been working here, I’ve unconsciously categorised people in terms of their Door Etiquette:-

Group One. The Polite Doormats. The people who end up holding doors open for everyone and wait patiently for their turn. Based on an Actual Experiment, approximately only one in six people bother to say ‘thank you’. I am a Polite Doormat. I have always held doors open for people to go through. Can’t help myself.
Group Two. The Reluctant Boy Scouts. The people who glare at you as they realise they need to hold the door so you can also come through. They perform this simple act of kindness with begrudging reluctance because they know it’s socially acceptable, but you can practically feel the hate radiating from them. Sometimes, Reluctant Boy Scouts deliberately accelerate their speed up a corridor so they can put distance between themselves and the person behind, thus making it far more acceptable not to wait for them.
Group Three. The Needless Hurriers. The people who just go through doors and let them close without bothering to look to see if anybody’s coming. There is a disturbingly high proportion of staff in this group. It’s ignorant, it’s rude and it’s completely unnecessary. It also, as you can probably tell by now, annoys the living beejeebus out of me. But even group three are as nothing to the one I’ve encountered several times. They should be rarer. They shouldn’t even exist, quite frankly, but let me introduce you to Group Four.

Group Four. The Unbelievables. I was subjected to one of them yesterday and bizarrely, another – different – one today. This is the most obnoxious group of all. This group consists of people to whom it’s actually OK to act in the following way:-
• Walk down corridor a few steps ahead of someone else.
• Reach door. Look over shoulder to see if anybody’s behind.
• Go through door. Let door swing shut anyway.

Wait, what? You even LOOKED to see whether someone was behind you! This morning, I called the person in question on it after I passed through the door they’d just let go in my face. I was carrying a bottle of milk, my coffee and a bag, so someone holding the door would have been very useful. It wasn’t exactly an insurmountable problem, but was there any need for it? So the following exchange took place. Politely, I hasten to add. Much as I rant and rage on my blog, I am cursed with being Terribly Polite.

Me: “Excuse me… why did you look to see if anybody was behind you and then just let the door shut in my face?”
Him: (Clearly confused by someone calling him out on his manners – or lack thereof) “Sorry.”

He didn’t even try to excuse it. If he’d said ‘I didn’t really look/didn’t notice you’, all that would have happened would have been a downgrading from being an Unbelievable to being a Needless Hurrier. Instead, he was just massively embarrassed about being called out on his lack of manners. I observed the said-same guy further on through the hospital. When he came to the next door, he actually took his time and, as it happens, DID hold the door open for the elderly gentleman who was coming through. So, small though it may be and as unlikely as it is that he’ll change his attitude, it did give me a faint sense of satisfaction. He scored a point for being chastised. Well done that man.

I was brought up to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I was brought up to hold doors open for people to pass through and to be pleasant and polite. I’m grateful to both my parents for this and because they are the only template I have for child rearing, my son has also been brought up this way. I find it faintly alarming – although always very satisfying – when people feel compelled to comment on how nice his manners are. This should not be exceptional behaviour!

Someone said that I had nice manners because I was obviously – and oh, how I laughed – posh. Sure. If growing up on a council estate and attending a school the local bus drivers referred to as ‘The Zoo Run’ is your criteria, then I’m as posh as they come. I was simply brought up by decent people from a generation that knew the value of manners.

The value of manners, as encapsulated by my mother’s own words.

“Please and thank you cost nothing, but mean everything.”

Bah. It just annoys me. When I’m out and about, I can’t help but observe the behaviour of other kids, particularly young kids when they’re out with their parents. I watch as they are dragged along by the upper arms, whining and complaining, being sworn at by parents who themselves have never been introduced to the concept of good manners.

Right. I could go on about this forever. But I won’t. I’ll just be over here in the corner, smouldering. But I’ll be apologising for it, mark my words.

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One thought on “Watch Your Manners

  1. I totally get what you mean, Ms Cawkwell. I’m much the same in I’m a #1. I mean I’ve occasionally done a #3 – who hasn’t? – but I do sometimes feel bad over it. Like yesterday I went through a door next to the cleaner at work and didn’t realise she was going to go through after me.

    But it’s just manners in general. Manners about eating in public, using doors, etc.? So many inconsiderate people.

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