Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Essential Snobbery 101: On good manners and seats

Well brought up
I grew up in a different time or rather, I was brought up in a different way and I am constantly met with the shock of contemporary attitudes and behaviour that the worldview I inhabit finds quite grating.
The reason why the different time matter is almost irrelevant is because I see people of my age behave in ways that leaves much to be desired that it must be the different way that is more significant.
I do not believe that certain things should become old-fashioned, be consigned to conservativeness and passed off as traditional values. Self-awareness and consideration of others still matters a great deal besides the fact that manners should never be negotiable, they must be acquired at all cost and deployed at every opportunity.
Give up your seat
Yet today, as I sat on the train, an elderly lady boarded the train at the next stop carrying some luggage, it did not appear she was helped on and there was no place for her to sit.
Even though I use a cane, I could not watch her standing, holding on for dear life as the train began to move. The many able-bodied people around us remained decidedly oblivious of her out of ignorance, the absence of breeding or sheer selfishness.
I got up and gave her my seat which is what any well-taught person is supposed to do, at least, in the different way I was brought up. It was another two stops some 20 minutes later before a seat became vacant for me to sit down.
Make all allowances
Meanwhile, further along the carriage, there was a heavily pregnant woman who in another time would have been ushered to take a seat somewhere in the carriage. Someone would have initiated the move and asked another to give up their seat. The person giving up their seat seeing the condition of the woman would have happily obliged.
However, this appears to belong to a bygone age, people rush for priority seats literally tripping up less able people in their race to be comfortable at the expense of seemingly more deserving people and they hardly ever care when reminded of the fact that the notices do state an incontrovertible fact.
On good manners
Ladies are surprised when I take off my hat to chat to them, some might even take offence if you open the door for them or if you ascribe to the chivalry of ‘Ladies first’. Other bad habits like coughing and yawning without covering your mouth, eating on the street, elbows on the table – the list is endless, makes one think we have become a global village of the uncouth and uncultured with air, grace, comportment or finesse.
Rough on all edges that we rub people up the wrong way, quite an appalling reflection on society today. It is not like one wants to rewrite Debrette’s guide on manners, etiquette, protocol, address or dress, but some things are just so, so as to really separate us from the wildness and chaos of the animal kingdom.
As I disembarked at my station, the elderly lady acknowledged me and mouthed a thank you, I tipped my head and smiled. We both knew there was a world we once knew that is fast disappearing from our present day experiences.
I am saddened writing this, but we have attained with the absence of certain aspects of social schooling a level of inconsiderate selfishness where manners are the exception rather than the rule. A shame indeed.


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