Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The End of an Era

I'm one of those people who is always looking at the glass as half full. As Dr. Phil likes to say, I'm an incurable optimist. (Most of the time.) But, with that optimism comes a healthy dose of caution. Even though I'd like to believe that everyone I encounter is honest, that things won't ever go horribly wrong, I know better than that and I allow myself to see things as they are -- with a positive slant, of course.

Recently, I've encountered several things that really irritate me and I've come to only one conclusion:

Common courtesy, polite consideration, and manners in general are dead.
They simply don't exist anymore.

Trust me, it's hard to say that because it's so negative, but after days and days of trying to figure things out and wracking my brain, I simple cannot come up with another explanation.

Why do I feel this way, you ask? Well, I've made a list of reasons. (For those of you who don't know, I'm a wicked list maker. I LOVE them!)

1. I was at the grocery store yesterday and I was headed for the checkout aisle when this woman with a heaping cart of stuff literally cuts me off so she can get ahead of me in line. Now, mind you, I only had a handful of items. There was no "excuse me" or "I'm sorry, were you in line?" or even a "You go ahead of me, you don't have that much stuff." I remember a time when that kind of courtesy existed. Not anymore. Every man, woman, child, and selfish grocery shopper for themselves -- here come the claws! (Oh, and this woman refused to make any sort of eye contact with me either. Not even so much as a glance in my direction.)

2. Last night my husband gets a call on his cell phone. He's outside and recognizing the name and number as the secretary at his job, I answer it. This is how the call went:
Me: Hello?
Her: Uh, hi.
*awkward pause as I wait for her to say she was looking for my husband or to identify herself or something*
Me: I assume you're looking for John. This is his wife. He's outside. Let me go get him for you.
Her: *aggravated sigh* Yeah, I'm not used to you answering his phone.

*insert the sound of screeching air brakes here please*

Okay, wait a minute. Back up. She's not used to me answering his phone?!?! (On a side note, I rarely answer his phone, but that's beside the point.) That was her chosen response? Seriously? Not once did she identify herself to me, nor did she thank me for taking the time to walk outside and find my husband instead of simply taking a message and making her wait for him to call back. Her tone was clipped and her attitude, quite frankly, sucked. Obviously her parents never taught her polite phone etiquette because she had absolutely no manners whatsoever.

3. Unanswered emails. As an author and editor, all of my communication is via email. It's quick and it's easy. Now, I send a lot of emails. A LOT! The number of responses I get to the amount of emails I send is pathetic. And the way I see it, one of two things is happening. (A) my emails are landing in the spam folders of a lot of people or (B) I'm being ignored. Maybe it's a combination of both. Who knows? But, I do know this: people are busy. I get that. Trust me, do I get that. But seriously people, is it so hard to hit the reply button and give me an answer to my questions? A simple, "Sorry, I'd like to help but I can't" or "I don't know, but let me find out for you" will suffice. I'd be over the moon just knowing you took the time to respond to me. And I'm not saying you have to respond right away -- I can be patient and wait a day or two, but when it goes for weeks, that's when it becomes a problem. Let me just say, I'm a little less obsessive about this when it's a friendly email back and forth, catching up with an old friend. But when I'm sending a business related email and it gets ignored -- whoa! Hello, poor customer service. Sign me up as a regular.

Let me be very clear in the fact that NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THIS! There are tons of people I interact with on a daily basis that are polite, friendly, courtesy, and professional. And it's those people who keep my faith alive, who lead me to believe that the era of manners and common courtesy stands a chance in a world where it's easier to sit behind a computer screen or on the other end of the telephone and act like a jackass.

Share your thoughts with me. How do you feel about the lack of manners in the world today? Is there anything that really just gets under your skin?