The Death of Common Courtesy

Hello You,

I’ve written to you so often these last few weeks, but the missives have stayed tucked securely in my head, never making it to this blog. I’d love to say I’ve been so busy living life I just haven’t had a moment to stop and transcribe them all, but that would be a lie and that’s something I won’t do.

I’ve just been mired in the day-to-day bullshit of living. That utterly tiresome cycle we’ve all found ourselves trapped in at sometime or another: sleep, wake, eat, work, stress, eat, chores, eat… rinse and repeat. I’ve had some adventures here and there and I’ve heard some great podcasts which have inspired me though so I’ll share soon in later posts. But, for now I’ve become fixated on the question, “Is common courtesy dead?”

I turned 36 on Thursday, June 12th. I jokingly referred to it as “my slide into 40”. It was without much fan fair, which is to say I heard from those I cared about and not much else happened.

My roommate A. decided to kidnap me on Saturday evening for a celebratory trip and after a brief stop for coffee, (no proper adventure starts without coffee first), I was on my way to parts unknown. It was great to just relax and go along for the ride. I’m saying all this because it’s important to set the stage that neither of us had a particular place to be at any particular time.

We ended up in St. Augustine and after some time walking St George Street, enjoying the sights, the shops, the breeze, and the sunset we ended the night at one of my favorite seafood places.

They were incredibly busy. It’s a tourist destinatation. It was Saturday night. The weather was fantastic. The World Cup was on every TV in the joint. Decent live music was playing out on the patio. It took us almost an hour from ordering to receive our food. Looking around at the tables near us we were not alone. But, it was a good night with good company and it was out of everyone’s control. Both of us having worked in the service industry for numerous years understood this so we made the best of it. We laughed, we shared news stories, work horror stories of the week, the usual. It’s what you do, right?

Our server and everyone else in the place was doing their best. They were attentive, apologetic, and in good spirits even though we saw every other table save one giving them hell. We found ourselves apologizing for those other people. We tipped well hoping to compensate a fraction of what our server must have lost that night. It was just… Astonishing to me. Why do people act this way? Why must they be so rude, on the verge of plain mean, to those around them?

Have they never had to persevere in rough circumstances? I pity them. Is the company of their own table so bad they want nothing more than to be somewhere else? If so, then I pity them even more.

Then, Sunday evening I ventured out later than usual for my bi-weekly shopping trip (having binge-watched all of Parade’s End that morning and afternoon). As a result I needed to one-stop stop at Target instead of my usual 2-3 store route. As soon as I walked in I was told their registers were expericing problems nationwide and were running very slow. The registers were also only accepting cash and credit. At that moment I had two choices: accept that checkout would be a longer than usual process or go someplace else. I opted to shop.

After completing my list I went to wait in the growing lines and was once again astonished by the masses’ complete lack of common courtesy. The managers were running around explaining the issue to everyone in line (again) and offering free cookies to those who wanted them. What they received were annoyed customers, customers who had the nerve to complain they wanted to try something else for free. The way I saw people treat the cashiers who were just trying to do their job on hobbled machinery… my pity slipped into disgust! I complimented the managers and cashier leaving impressed once again with the worker bees and appalled with the masses. Is this what we’ve come to?

Did common courtesy die while I wasn’t looking?


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