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mislaid manners

I’ve often observed that despite my meagre 26 years, my values, ideals and perception of what is polite and what are bad manners would, according to my more stereotypically Gen-Y comrades, classify me as being rather prehistoric and stuffy.

For those of you who don’t know me, this statement alone is probably enough to conjure up the mental image of a vertically challenged, more mature woman wearing a shawl, ferocious scowl, who harbours enough umbrella-thwacking potential to rival the verbal slams of John McEnroe.

My opinion and ideals may relegate me to the senior citizens club amongst the minds of my own generation, but try as I might to carry a more optimistic appraisal of people’s behaviour towards others, I can’t help but gravitate towards the same conclusion. Much of society in this day-and-age has either lost the desire to be, or, simply can’t be bothered being nice to one another.

I am a rather lateral-minded individual and as such, appreciate the philosophy that you get back what you put out; however, in this instance if that is the case then I must truly embody the Maud-like qualities described above on a daily basis. Only this afternoon I encountered yet another disgruntled bus driver with the temper of a wasabi-dipped, chilli-flake covered snow pea and the attitude to match. Granted I may have been guilty of provoking the attack: I had just asked him for a single adult ticket to Neutral Bay. A crime punishable by 10 seconds of a public berating, apparently, and only then was I allowed to hand over the exact change before being practically booted down the aisle to a vacant seat. Clearly, manners are alive and well.

It would seem that no manners knows no social boundaries. In many instances, it is the wealthy who are the main offenders of such neglect, particularly those behind the wheel of a luxury 4WD in inner-city dwellings. Why there is reason for them to be on the road in a bustling city where there is barely room to park a moped let alone a monster truck, I know not. But whatever your vehicle/weapon, I’ve certainly noticed that city drivers have a tendency to burl about like they’re performing a V8 hot-lap. Whether you’re a pedestrian or a fellow driver, survival will be entirely dependent on reflexes alone – hesitation would equal a fate not unlike that suffered by a vague pedestrian caught in amongst a herd of manic pram-pushing mums en route to a High-Five concert.

Relationships perplex me, largely because they offer an opportunity to observe how people interact. How they behave towards one another is insight into their personalities. I find myself mulling over this particularly when it is so obvious that the balance of power is grossly skewed in one direction; this leads me to question how it is that a person who has blatant disregard for such ideals can still be so attractive to someone who appreciates these qualities.

I guess I’m prompted to follow this train of thought after I bumped into a couple getting out of the lift several days ago, just as I was getting in. The opposing woman and myself performed a customary equivalent to an Irish jig, before dancing out of each other’s way. After doing so, I then provided them with a few garbled directions on how to get to their destination, notwithstanding a smile and chuckle at what had just transpired. The steely expression and hasty exit made by my toe-tapping friend suggested that she, unlike me, was not amused. Her husband barraged after her, practically tripping over his own feet to get to and open the door so that she could enter first. Ungraciously, she sauntered through like the Queen of Sheba, while I was left to ponder his perspective – why bother?

The mystery of un-requited manners is one that I have a feeling I will be mulling over for quite some time, both now and in the future. While there is ego in the world, there can never really be any hope of eradicating rudeness. I have no studies to support such a prediction, merely confirmation through personal encounter or sneaky observation, but one thing is for sure. If this is the way of the future then the only winners are going to the likes of L’Oreal, Olay and Garnier with records sales of their anti-aging products; because according to science, we use twice as many facial muscles to frown than we do when we smile.

At last, there is my silver lining and ultimately, secret to eternal youth.

(Image credit: 1.)

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