Common courtesy: a thing of the past?

By on November 10, 2004

It has become more and more obvious to me that courtesy, even in its most common and purest of forms, has become extinct, a thing of the past, over the last few years.

It has been a rather daunting task for me to find individuals that follow and have regard for some of the most common forms of courtesy and respect.

I originally thought that the problem was only in big cities, where the hustle and bustle of everyday life overcomes the lives of the people there. To me, it was almost reasonable enough, since I am aware that not everyone has an extra minute.

But my big city, small courtesy theory has been proven wrong in almost all areas of life that I experience. And I am ashamed at what goes on and am disappointed in the overall actions of my peers.

As I progress through my days here on campus, I notice many different aspects that at one time were considered to be common courtesy to do unto others.

There is no more holding open the door for the person directly behind you or for an elderly person in need of assistance. Instead, it slams in their face.

There is no more keeping to the right, just the same as when you drive a car, you stay nicely in the right and traffic flows without disruption. Instead, people walk wherever they would like to cause jams in traffic left and right.

There is no more running or walking single file, as we all first learned prior to grade school. Instead, people walk or run in horizontal lines, 3 or 4 abreast, causing you to run off the road or path to get out of their way.

Whatever happened to what we learned when we were growing up, when we used to do the simplest things to please others and when we made sure that we were always on our best behavior?

Are these basic courtesies and forms of respect no longer applicable to our lives now that we are in college and have become extremely busy individuals? I think not.

Courtesies and forms of respect as simple as an excuse me or a please or thank you have virtually disappeared from the everyday lives of not only college students, but in people of all ages across the country.

While recently in Nashville for a conference, I was appalled by the rudeness and lack of respect that the other visiting college students had overall.

Students interrupted groups while they were in a conversation; they pushed ahead of lines, despite the people who were patiently waiting in front of them.

They answered cell phones in the middle of workshops, walked out in the middle of lectures. They even had the nerve to come in to sessions 10 or even 20 minutes late.

No pleases. No thank yous. No respect. No courtesy.

Maybe these feelings are just mine and I am incredibly old fashioned in my ways.

I still say hello to everyone I meet. I still hold the door for the person behind me. I still turn off my cell phone when I am in class. I still keep to the right, say please, say thank you.

I think that we all need to consider these things in our everyday lives, as these actions of respect and courtesy are what other people see and use as the basis of the judgments of us.

Take a minute to step back, slow down, and remember the most basic of our knowledge, courtesy and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


About Amy Trapini