Sunday, February 16, 2014

We're Doomed

Some days it is difficult for me to get around. I have a cane, which I keep in the car but save for a few occasions where I know in advance I will be covering long distances, I don't use it. Partly, that's vanity, but mostly I don't like to look like a good target for a mugging. I can get around, but some days I move quite slowly. Yes, I should ditch the heels, but no, I won't.

As I made my way down an aisle at the grocer, a woman with a child far too old to be pushed about in a trolley came right up behind me.
"Beep beep, get out of the way!" shouted the boy.

Ahem. I'm going to have a little rant here about manners, and how doomed civilisation is-that sort of thing, so if you're not in the mood to have the obvious pointed out (that we're doomed )I won't mind if you go check out some cat videos.

I turned as quickly as my body would let me (not getting out of the way), stared directly at the mother and replied in my very best stern, headmistress voice, "That is not appropriate." The mother mumbled, "Sorry", pushed past me, and was on her merry way without a word to the child. That friends is why we are doomed. Doomed.  I could have blocked her way, and demanded an apology from the child, but what's the point? Really, the message I get over and over is that if you are old, disabled, or not dressed sufficiently fashionable, then you should just go somewhere and die. Beep, Beep-get out of the way. "Excuse me" apparently too quaint for today's American middle class.

My child is by no means perfectly behaved, but he's been taught enough not to mouth off to adults. There have been occasions when he has had to make a sincere apology for acting like a boorish idiot. Manners are important. The fact that a large swath of society no longer feels they are, or that some segments do not deserve polite treatment leaves me conclude we are doomed. I tried to imagine my mother reacting in a similar situation, had I behaved so terribly. She would have made me apologise, though I'm sure there would be hell to pay once we got home. I'm fairly confident there wasn't any punishment for the little beast at the store. If anything, he likely earned his mother's approval.

I don't make myself feel powerful by behaving like an arrogant monster. I don't understand the satisfaction in that. There are plenty of people I'd like to shove through a wall, but I can't think of a single instance where it was provoked by their age, physical limitations, or economic status. I'm not expecting special treatment, but I do expect to be addressed politely, by children anyway.

I may not have had the best upbringing (though I'm starting to believe it was much better than I gave my parents credit for) but I did learn to treat people decently, no matter their situation in life. A homeless person is still a person, and worthy of a, "Good morning, how are you?" as anyone else. I was expected to hold doors for adults, or give up a seat on the bus. These are not exceptionally difficult tasks for a child to execute. Why it is we stopped demanding it, I'll never understand but there is something terribly wrong with a society where the elderly are standing on public transportation as pampered wee ones sit, their faced gazing downward into gadgets.

Sadly, this isn't the first time I have had a child say something like this to me, and I don't expect it will be the last.

Thank you indulging my rant.


pastcaring said...

I agree. Rude people - including kids - make me come over all ranty too. I am singing to my computer screen now; "I hate people when they're not polite" (Psycho Killer - Talking Heads.) No, my kids don't always get it right, but I pull them up on it immediately if I feel they haven't shown good manners.
It matters, being polite makes the world a better place, it demonstrates respect and thoughtfulness. You did well to resist the urge to say more to that mother...

Do you think it's all about that style of parenting that puts the kid first and central at all times? You know, that version of child-centredness which excluded anyone else's needs or feelings apart from Precious Darling's? A belief that Darling must be allowed free reign and cannot be stifled or reproved for anything because they're just, you know, expressing themselves?
Or is it just plain ignorance?
You got me on one now as well! xxx

Goody said...

Ignorance would be so much easier to accept. Unfortunately, I think it is the Precious Darling syndrome.