Comments from the Canyon: Etiquette makes big difference in everyday interaction

Lynn Moncus

Last week, one of the morning shows on television featured several segments about our limited use of good manners. According to their statistics, more than 60 percent of people today tend to forget to use those manners. One of the segments was devoted to the overuse of cellular telephones in public. The reporters showed numerous examples of people speaking it in almost any activity we could imagine. Very few were shown leaving a group they were interrupting by speaking at top voice to someone around the corner.

Most of us have noticed the use of those phones and have commented at times about the rudeness of the speakers as they drowned out our visiting area. Yes, we recognize the need for some people to have their phones handy because of family emergencies, and we don’t hesitate to tell them to go ahead using them, but others could learn to turn off those phones in public.

The ones who bother their neighbors the most are those who feel that they must shout in order to be heard. For some reason, those remind me of our childhood games in which we used tin cans and string or wire to talk to each other a few feet away. At other times, the extremely loud voices remind me of the years during which we lived across the canyon from Grandmother. If we didn’t have time to walk across to visit, we would walk to the edge of the bench and shout across the canyon to check on Grandmother and to pass along any news we might want to shout about.

The major danger in using those phones for talking or texting occurs when they are being used by the drivers. Concentration on conversation and on the road simply cannot be done safely. No matter how often people say they can multi-task, they really cannot do so successfully and are apt to cause far more trouble than they can manage.

Another segment of the show was devoted to our limited use of “please” and “thank you.” Most of us who listen carefully are aware that people of all ages use those terms sparingly these days. They tend to sound rather gruff as they make demands rather than asking politely. I notice most particularly that some of us avoid saying “thank you” when another person opens a door for us. I really never mind holding a door for either sex, but I get a little tense when they forget their manners.

Just a few seconds to use our manners can make all the difference in the way we are perceived by friends, neighbors, or strangers. Speaking politely as we meet people just automatically makes each of us feel better. We surely were taught to use our manners when we were growing up, and some of us have attempted to pass along those teachings as we have aged. Consideration surely makes a better impression than does rudeness.