I grew up in a time when children called adults "Mrs. Smith" instead of "Miss Cindy". I was expected to reply with "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" when spoken to by an adult. It was "your best manners" to say excuse me, pardon me, you're welcome, please and thank you.
When my son, who is now 22, was a preschooler Barney the Dinosaur was just becoming popular on PBS. Do you remember he lived in Sandi Duncan's backyard? The creators of Barney took mother goose rhymes and poems, added simple tunes, and mesmerized preschool children in the early 90's. (btw have you tuned into Barney lately? Hollywood has hit the purple monster. The set has lost it's charm from a simple Brady Bunch style fake grass backyard to a disneyworld-esque treehouse. But I digress)
"Please and Thank you, they are magic words…." Barney would sing.
Well, those magical words are now extinct. Or, maybe they're just endangered. You have to really search for them. I've become convinced that "Thank You" is going to way to Thou and Shalt. Words we know but never use.
There are the little things like stopping in a long line of traffic long enough for someone to be able to pull out and join the line. I watch for the thank you wave. Nope. Nothing.
Monday I was in Bed Bath and Beyond shopping curtain rods. I found the size I needed and was rummaging through the boxes hoping to find one more to match the other three. A woman approaches and stands right next to me. Honestly, she was close enough to lick me. After an awkward second or two I turned and we were nose to nose.
"I'm just looking" she says to me.
"Excuse me. (sure that I didn't need to ask for her pardon. I was there first) I'll be out of your way in a minute. I need one more this size" I said, with my irritated voice. She continued to just stand there and wait. BACK UP IDIOT.
Yesterday I was waiting in the grocery store check out line with an almost full buggy. Twenty minutes earlier as I had entered the store alongside a young mother and her small children. As I grabbed the few things on my list, I passed them several times and now they were waiting in the line next to mine. Here's our quick conversation:
Shopper Mom: (pointing into my buggy) Where did you get those little bottles of Dr. Pepper? I looked but couldn't find them.
**yes, I was buying Dr Pepper. I don't even enjoy being a pepper. I was treating Dancer Girl.
Me: "They are on the coke aisle but not near the other brands. They are way down past the bottled waters for some reason."
Shopper Mom: "Okay. I'm just about to check out. Okay. "
She turns to tell her children to stand by the buggy and don't walk away. Wait for her. She's going to find the Dr. Pepper.
At that minute I picked up my 8 pack, handed it to her.
Me: "Here, just take mine. I can walk back and get myself another pack. "
Shopper Mom: "Are you sure?"
**okay, why do people say that? Yes, I'm sure. I wouldn't offer if I wasn't sure. Stupid
Me: "Oh sure. No trouble at all."d
And so… I left my buggy in line. Returned to the coke aisle and grabbed another 8 pack.
By the time I got back, Shopper Mom was just finishing up her transaction. I watched her as she turned around and walked right by me. I mean RIGHT BY ME. No thank you. No have a nice day. No eye contact. No acknowledgement. No nothing. WOW. I was shocked!
I didn't make the gesture to earn her appreciation and gratitude. I did it to help her out. I've been shopping with small children at 5pm on a weekday. Wow Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.
Excuse me, ma'am. Let me grab you a bag of MANNERS.