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Fading Etiquette

Politeness in anything we do is a manner which should be practiced by all, no matter where we are or whom we are with. I understand the 'old days' are quickly disappearing, but having been raised in a European household, several rules were ingrained in me, which I still think about as I am out and about. Simple things like holding a door for someone else, opening a car door for your passenger, or simply walking on the outside of the sidewalk (a tradition started when people began to toss garbage from second story windows, usually hitting the person on the outside first) are nothing more than common courtesies.

These traditions are becoming rare and who knows, perhaps they are out dated and should be forgotten, but I believe there are still guidelines to which we should adhere when interacting with our fellow humans, especially in this day of diminishing social interaction, largely due to technology.

I was recently in Switzerland, on a train, and a younger person actually stood and offered me their seat. I was shocked, because I have not witnessed that in a long time. I thanked her and declined the offer, as I may have appeared old to her, but there is no way I will buy into that fact. I am still young (even if only in my mind), and will leave the seat for people older and more in need of it.

So what is it about pedestrian etiquette or the lack there of, that bothers me? Exactly that - the lack there of. Recent (in the past 30 years) inventions have come along which have cocooned us into nonsocial existences. People walk everywhere with ear buds attached to phones or tablets. I suppose as long as they don't bother me I shouldn't be concerned, however, they do bother me, and there is little I can do about it.

People tuning out doesn't inconvenience me, but when I am walking through a mall and the person in front of me stops dead in their tracks, without consideration of others, I get annoyed. To me a mall is a place you visit with only one mission and that is to purchase something and get out. People who leisurely stroll four abreast preventing me from passing irritates me, and it seems there are more and more each time I visit the large, congested shopping depositories (thank goodness I live in a small town where I can still stroll into small shops and buy most everything I need).

Driving is another confrontational trait we possess. I'm sure we have always been put off by thoughtless things drivers do, but I can't remember wanting to jump out of my car to get punched out by someone in an oversized pick-up truck. If we were a bit more courteous on the roads, we would not only decrease accidents, but also diminish the stress we feel behind the wheel.

Another peeve of mine is the lack of care from sales staff in stores. Have you ever entered a shop and staff are busily engaged in a conversation with each other, and even though they see you , they don't stop chatting? Whenever the chance presents itself, I walk up and listen in on their conversation, which causes them to give me that 'evil sneer'.

Of course many stores, especially larger ones, seldom have staff nearby. I love going up to a cashier’s desk where there is no attendant and start playing with the cash register, or any one of the numerous gadgets on the counter. I find as soon as I start touching buttons someone magically appears, and again I get the evil eye.

I have a feeling that all the people I encounter in malls head out to the streets as soon as they know I am driving. Now with the new rule where you have to wait for a pedestrian to be on the sidewalk before heading into an intersection (which I admit is a very good law), I find my fuse shortened by the slow turtles that painstakingly crawl across the road, earbuds intact or smart phones in hand, with not a care in the world. Perhaps we should increase the number of turtle crossing signs at each crosswalk, and maybe people would stop stealing the few we have out there now.

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