Manners Matter (To Me)

I guess I am turning into an old woman.  Or perhaps I am just showing my age.  Manners matter to me.  From a very young age I primed my son to say "Please" and “Thank you.” As a child, this is what I was taught, so as a mother I have tried to teach him the same thing.

As he’s grown up, I’ve told him it never hurts to say “Thank You”.  You just can’t go wrong.  I hope what I have tried to teach him has stuck.  I still have to remind him occasionally to say those two words.  He frequently gets rides to and from school and I hope he’s thanking the driver.  It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t, but I hope he does.  I know that I drive several of his friends to school (different friends on different days) and nothing impresses me more than one girl who always says “thank you” when she gets out of the car.  I’ve told her mom on more than one occasion what a pleasure it is to have her daughter ride with us; and her ever present “thank you” is one of the reasons why I enjoy having her along.  (It’s also why I often volunteer to pick up or drive her; her mother doesn’t even have to ask.)

I've had him write thank you notes for gifts.  They may be short, but they are written.  He has received thank you notes from his friends as well.  (The most recent one being for a birthday gift from the brother of the girl who always says thank you to me.)  Being polite is still in vogue, isn't it?

Maybe manners are "out of date" and nobody told me.  I realize that we live in a more casual society as opposed to when I grew up and started out as young adult, but are we really so "casual" that what once passed as good manner and common courtesy have gone the way of the dinosaur? I ask this as I recall an experience I once had with a co-worker that made me question just that.

This co-worker was new and younger than I,   but it was not her first job.  And while she was new to the company and position, it wasn't her first day when she came to work station to review some material with me.  It is important to note that her job required her to predominantly work outside the office so she did not have her own cubicle.  She usually worked out of the office conference room (which on this day was already in use when she arrived).  Because she had nowhere to go, I didn't mind that she used part of my area as her own.  But what did irk me is that she never asked if I was ok with it.  She simply hung up her coat over mine (I put up my hanger in my area), plopped down her stuff, grabbed a few tissues from the box on my desk (the used ones sat on the corner of my desk for quite a while...), pulled up a chair and plugged in her laptop (in such a way that I had to CLIMB over the cord to exit and enter the area; it was a good 6 inches off the ground).

None of this is major, I realize.  Just little things that set off my "manners" radar.  We went about our review and all was fine until...

Ok, I realize this really isn't major, but there was just something about it that got under my skin.  On my desk, I have a bottle of hand lotion.  While we were working, she noticed it and said, "Oh, is that lotion?"  She proceeded to reach across the desk and take it.  "I need this.  I have this very dry, uncomfortable spot under my arm."  I saw her pump out some lotion; I did NOT look to see where she was applying it.  

Why did this bother me?  She never asked if I minded, or if she could use it.  I would have said yes.  The bottle has been sitting on my desk for nearly two years; I don't use it that frequently so I certainly mind if someone else did.  It was just the fact that she didn't even ask; she just took.  (Obviously the words "please" and "thank you" were never used either.)  I didn't say anything; we just continued on.  But the fact that she didn't ask has stuck with me.

I am being old fashioned?  Perhaps.  Whenever my son wants something, he asks politely.  And if he forgets, I'll call him on it.  He knows that manners matter.

Or maybe they don't?

Have I become an old biddy?  Do manners still matter into today's fast paced world?  I think they do and if I'm wrong so be it. To me, manners will always matter.


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