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Moseyin’ Along

Good Manners are Fading Fast

March 19, 2015
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

My friend and I took a quiet table in my favorite breakfast place. It had been weeks since we had seen each other and we were eager for a quiet catch-up chat over our eggs. While we scanned the offerings on the menu, a family of four settled in at the next table.

Apparently, the doting grandparents were entertaining their energetic little grandkids with a special breakfast. The youngsters, a girl of four and a boy of about six, were taking advantage of their positions as stars of the scene by turning the attention of their grandparents, as well as every one else in ear shot, to themselves.

Bouncing up and down on the chairs, playing with the condiment bottles, opening and closing the syrup containers.. they simply monopolized their corner of the restaurant with scant interference from the indulgent adults.

The noisy demonstration went on as our food was delivered and as we tried in vain to carry on a conversation.

Eventually, one of the more experienced waitresses said quietly to the youngsters, "You kids need to settle down."

The grandparents looked embarrassed and the children grudgingly quieted, but only briefly.

For me, it was the latest incident I've witnessed of just how far good manners have slipped away in today's society.

It seems everywhere you go these days, people. both children and adults.. are increasingly self-focused. Good manners are rare and civility no longer matters.

The evidence is widespread: the irate driver who makes an obscene gesture simply because you took too long at a light, the woman at the grocery with the full basket who pushes into the 10-items-or-less check out line, the gent in the front row at the play who has to answer his cell phone, the man at the bank who takes a cookie from the tray at the entry desk, then stuffs six more in his pocket.. all are exhibiting the erosion of good manners that has become epidemic.

A friend who works at WalMart recently told me the store has become a substitute baby sitter for shopping parents. He reported having to clean up a mess left by two kids who had emptied containers of silly string all over the bicycle display and surrounding floor.

Can you imagine our mothers allowing us to get away with such behavior? We would have been down on our hands and knees with toothbrushes, cleaning Wal-Mart's floors!

Not long ago, I read an Associated Press poll that dealt with manners. Seventy percent of those questioned said people are "ruder than they were 20 or 30 years ago." And 93 percent blamed the lack of training on the parents who don't take the time to teach their children how to behave.

Every day, we see examples of misbehaving athletes and boorish celebrities who have a ready audience for any actions they choose to take, thanks to a camera-happy public.

In a society that continually exhibits such poor behavior, those of us who know better can try to lead by example by remembering the lessons our parents taught us so long ago.

I don't know about you, but as I go through my day, I keep hearing my Mom whisper, "Joyce, mind your manners!"



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