The other day my husband and I were walking down the sidewalk in my neighborhood. I’m no spring chicken and he’s 10 years older. A young mother with a child on each hand came walking toward us. One of us was going to have to step aside; preferably all of us would make the effort.
She did not. Nor did she say to the children, “Look, there is an elderly gentleman and his younger wife. The polite thing to do, sweethearts, is to make room for them.” No, she did not acknowledge our existence. I created the wide berth. And anger rose in my heart.
This young mother must be the reason “young people today” pass through a door and allow it to slam into the faces of those behind them. They rarely look back and hold the door a few seconds as a matter of courtesy. When someone does hold the door for me (as I try to do for those behind me; this is not about gender), I am effusively thankful. Fifty years ago, this courtesy would be normal behavior. Today, we are grateful for it.
I’m really showing my age here, but I can remember a time when people held the door and let another, especially their elders and, OK, females, go through first.
This young mother (and fathers are included in my diatribe) must also be the reason that people (all right, of all ages) walk and text on their phone not thinking that perhaps someone else might like to walk on that same sidewalk without collision.
Do you know of Miss Manners? I admire her; possibly I love her. I would like to channel her sarcastic wit the next time someone nearly runs into me while texting or allows a door to slam into my face.
I don’t mean for this to be a forum to vent, but I’m guessing some of you have noticed this behavior too. In some countries, all adults act as parents to misbehaving children (it takes a village). What would happen if we very politely reminded those selfish, unmannerly souls of the Golden Rule? How would you do it?
Terri Lackey is managing editor of Gather magazine.
(The above image was used with permission and altered slightly.)