Excuse Me Miss…
I stood there, waiting for the bus in the cold. Body balled up and crouching in attempt to keep all the heat in and all the breeze out. From the corner of my eye I could see someone approaching. Not paying it much mind, while all my concentration was on staying warm. As the figure got closer I noticed there was no change in the stride, no recognition that I was directly in the path that they were planning to go through. I also realized that the person was feminine, and for a moment, the chivalry in me felt the need to step aside. But it was too late. By the time I could have dodged this incoming human traffic she was already too close to me. So close that I could only assume that she intended to stop in front or go around me. I wasn’t blocking a sidewalk or standing aimlessly in the doorway. There was space on either side of me in which to pass. There were only 2 options left, either I would move out of the way without any prompt or request to, or she would simply say “excuse me”. I stood my ground, and verbally so did she. So, I looked at her, as my game plan was to act as if I hadn’t seen her, just to see if she really wasn’t going to say anything. I mean even the pilgrims offered some turkey and cranberry sauce to the Aboriginals before taking over their rightful land. I felt an excuse me, paled in comparison. She damn near stood chest to chest with me, while trying to squeeze between myself and the glass wall. It was not until she felt her jacket brush mine that the light went off. “Excuse me”, was slipped through her lips so silently, as if it needed to tip toe passed her teeth, in fear they might bite the head of the words off. I responded with “Ahhh there ya go!”, took 2 steps back and shook my head, muttering to myself, “What happened to manners?!”.
Seriously where have manners gone? The simplest phrases of gratitude and request, have seemed to all but disappear. Perhaps it’s my gray-haired outlook or the rose-colored glasses I adorn to look at my childhood, but it seems as if, examples of courtesy have all but disappeared. Don’t believe me? Try holding a door for someone these days, or stand in one spot and see if anyone passing will say “excuse me” to pass by. You will most likely be greeted with silence and a blank stare of disorientation, as if you are the one in the wrong for expecting anything more. And this look of bewilderment isn’t the result of a generation gap. That’s the most ironic and annoying thing about this mystery of the missing manners. You’d think that this all can be attributed to the nonchalance of youthful bliss, but unfortunately that is not the case. It seems the adults have fallen victim to following the practices of those they are appointed to be guiding. I used to suffer corporal punishment as a child for lack of manners and respect. Nowadays parents are laughing when their kids step passed adults with no acknowledgement. Indiscretions that are excused with “he’s in a mood, don’t mind him.” A privilege of emotional freedom I was never afforded. So, in this case, age is just a number. A number that signifies how many times one can be dismissive and aloof to the practices of common courtesy. Unfortunately, it has become clear to me that courtesy has become as common as sense. And we all know it’s not that common.
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