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Etiquette and rules of conduct
There were only 4 people in the express line at the supermarket. Heading to be next in line was
an elderly man in a wheelchair. Walking right behind the man in the wheelchair came a young lady, 18 or 19 years old. I watched her
keep an eye on the wheelchair man, noticing that he was heading to be next in line. When she was sure of where the wheelchair was
headed she quickened her pace to arrive in line just before the man in the wheelchair. She got in line first! She won! She beat the
disabled man in a wheelchair!
The young lady who bravely raced a disabled man
in a wheelchair was attired in jeans that barely hung on her hips. Her short, white blouse left a 3 inch gap, exposing her not too
svelte belly. The fit of her jeans proved that the young lady was foreign to dieting, or that she had a glandular condition. Either
way, she appeared to have dressed without benefit of a mirror.
Seeing this young woman race the disabled man to the checkout line
and noticing her “relaxed” costume, one, my age, would be forced to consider her rude and half a football field short of stylish.
Much as service at gasoline stations has gone the way of rotary phones and
disco music it seems that manners, gentility and decorum are quickly making an exit from American life.
Of course things change. Of course the passage of time alters our beliefs, our convictions, our styles. It has always been this way.
Change is eternal, but did the authors of change have to select this generation to make its point. Couldn’t the changes have been
made after I was either gone or too old to care.
I must admit that I miss days
past when parents taught their children manners. When the younger would give up their seat to an elder. When swear words were not
part of the common vocabulary. When “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “may I help you” were frequently heard.
Driving on our roads has become a test of aggressiveness, an exploration of rudeness and the death of civility. Place a ubiquitous
cell phone in the hands of a person behind the wheel of a giant SUV, add a steaming hot cup of Starbuck’s coffee, a peach Danish and
an unhappy small child strapped into a seat behind the multi-tasking driver and I question if the driver is devoting even half of
his or her attention to the road. My wager is that sooner rather than later this SUV will be weaving into its neighbor’s lane or stopping
short just before ramming the car ahead at the next red light.
to survey questions asking, “What irritates you?” - finds “cell phones” as the leading irritant to people of all ages. And yet, we
are all faced with the rudeness of people, of all ages- in line at supermarkets, department stores, churches, movies and hospital
waiting rooms who cannot resist the “lure” of the cell phone. They care not if their neighbors in line can hear every word of their
conversations. These “Cellphonies” bring with them a particular kind of pollution and denial of the existence of other human beings.
If they understood decorum they would make or take their phone calls from more private locations.
I think it is another sort of arrogance and discourteousness to play one’s car stereo at such an amplitude that would shake the fillings
from a bystander’s molars. And pity the poor driver if he or she should reach middle age and find him or herself with partial or full
deafness due to the battering tones emanating from bulging speakers inside their car. Could this not be an infringement of another’s
I would think that the greatly increased usage of swearing in public
and in the media is another infringement, if not to our freedom, at least, to our sense of decency. Yes, we are free to change stations
or channels, but our sense of decorum has been offended by the use of these words so freely in the public media. Adults of a certain
age can hear them and make mature judgements, but children, upon hearing the common and everyday use of swear words must believe that
they can use them too. “Hey, mom, get me some of those $%$#$%^ing donuts, please.” Or, “Do I have to eat my #%$&^%$ing spinach?”
Freedom is a funny thing. You can do whatever you want to, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon my freedom. So, if you want to pierce
your lip or your eyebrow or your navel and stick a piece of jewelry in it, that’s your business. If you want to wear baggy pants and
your cap on sideways or backwards, that’s your business too. You are even free to think you are being attractive and appealing. I
have a hunch that when you’re 40 or 50 years old and you show your children some photos of you pierced, baggy and bare you will shrink
George Bernard Shaw was quoted as saying, “We don’t bother
much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don’t dress well and have no manners.”
End of complaint!