Monday, 7 February 2011

Is a sense of entitlement killing off our manners?

As a Grumpy Young Woman, it would be so easy for me to complain about the distinct lack of manners that society seems to have suffered. When it comes to examples, I’m so spoilt for choice that I’d be here from now until Dooms Day. And I don’t have that kind of time.

Instead, I would have thought that considering the cause of the bad manners would be prudent and might, somehow, make it easier to beat it out of the ill-mannered offenders—er—I mean, nip the problem in the bud. Yes, that was it, nip it in the bud.

Through some painstaking, scientific research (what do you mean the School of Hard Knocks isn’t a recognised institution? Besides, it was confirmed by the University of Life!) I have discovered one of the reasons. Ready? The misguided notion that the culprits are entitled to be rude as whatever gracious act that came their way is owed to them. That’s right, they don’t have to be grateful for what they have a right to. And this distinct sense of self-importance seems to be spreading.

Imagine being asked for directions:
“Excuse me, can you please tell me where X is?”
“Sure. Follow this road to the junction, take a left and then the first right/Sorry, I’m not sure.”
“Great, thanks for your help/no problem.”

Sounds like a familiar process? Ah, but that is when you’re approached by a sane and lucid person. If this has always been your experience, count yourself lucky. Now imagine not getting a request for directions, but a demand. Aggressive voice, aggressive expression, no please or thank you before they storm off on getting a reply.

Even if my purpose in life was to give people directions, I would still expect some manners. How naive I am. My response? “Los siento, no comprendo Ingles.” Find it your damn self. These morons are often too ignorant to even be able to speak their native English, let alone any other language.

Words are wonderful things—allowing us to convey all sorts of information. For example, 'do not smoke in my home'. Should be a simple enough instruction. Not for the asinine few. The asinine will ask for permission, not get it and smoke anyway.

As a volunteer, I suspect that I have inadvertently become part of fated ‘Big Society’ (though you can’t hear me, rest assured that my voice is dripping with contempt when I utter the phrase) which our esteemed leader (more contempt) so loves to promote. For the most part, the people I help are lovely and full of gratitude.

But then there are those that act like you’re working for them rather than simply assisting, they point to a PC and stare at you blankly, expecting your telepathy to kick in. They expect assistance that isn’t even offered and, yet, fail to reply with a tiny word of thanks when you do go out of your way to help.

I’m a pedestrian yet even I’m aggravated by those who seem to slow down when crossing in front of a car that has stopped for them. What is that about? Are people really that absurd? Save your evil look for when it’s absolutely necessary- like when someone tries to mug you or a cashier gives you the wrong change.

Bless my mum for teaching me my Ps and Qs, but I wonder whether her work was wasted. The way things are going, I may as well join the crowd. I reckon I’d make a great diva—where’s my mineral water and basket of puppies? Read more by Shermaine.