What ever happened to common courtesy?

First, let me start by saying that I am absolutely thrilled that Kelli asked me to guest post here. I have a blog called BettyShmetty and I have been blogging since March. I met Kelli through another blog friend, Dweej at House Unseen. Life Unscripted.. Imagine my delight at being welcomed into a circle of talented and funny ladies who are moms just like me! Even more astonishing is that Kelli and I both have similar unfortunate childhoods behind us. I feel very humbled and honored that someone as talented as Kelli is would think that I am worthy to post on her blog…here goes…

After reading Kelli’s letter to a rage filled stranger the other day, I started to think about courtesy.   When did people start to feel that they are entitled to treat others with such disrespect?  Why is it okay to “express yourself” in a manner that is offensive?

In my family (dysfunctional as it was) my mother always stressed the importance of using common courtesies…saying “please” and “thank you,” holding the door open for older people, using last names when talking to adults.  My mom was no model citizen and she always told us “Do as I say, not as I do!”  She was generally NOT nice to people and felt it was her God given right to tell everyone, from the cashier at the grocery store to the Pope, exactly how she felt about whatever she was feeling it for.    I spent many moments of my childhood wishing I could shrink myself very small and disappear when my mom “went off” on someone when they wronged her.  Not only was my mom loud and aggressive, she also included many of the most offensive expletives in her tirades.  This behavior was not limited to my childhood either, she felt it her obligation and privilege to behave this way while I was in the process of getting married also. ..at my future mother in law’s home, with Kurt’s whole family present.

I am not talking about someone who drinks a little too much and then dances with a lampshade type of embarrassment, I am talking about mortification…is there such a word?  I think so.  What did she do you ask?  To make a long story short, she decided to twist something the best man said about my sister (he thought she was cute and wanted to ask her out) into this (which she said loudly to my sister in the middle of the whole group of us) “He (best man) said he fucked you!”  Which, of course, led to a screaming match and many members of Kurt’s family standing there gaping at us with their mouths open.  Oh, and then my mom tried to run over one of my bride’s maids because she was “sucking the energy” out of her.  No, I am NOT making that up, it happened just like that!

Anyway, what I am really wondering is what ever happened to the good, old-fashioned values of keeping your mouth shut, biting your tongue, turning the other cheek, putting on a happy face and just plain being nice to people?  Can’t we all just get along?  Why do we feel entitled to say and do whatever we feel like saying and doing in a given moment?

Why is it that when a stranger cuts us off in traffic, we take it personally instead of just realizing that they were probably not paying attention?  Why should we get so upset that we curse them out and then aggressively follow them for the next five miles, tailgating and gesturing at them?  What is that?  Why not just shake it off and move on?  Is it really worth all of the aggravation?

And what about when something goes wrong with a meal in a restaurant?  Why do we feel it necessary to berate the waiter/waitress who has NOTHING to do with the food prep beyond writing down what we order and turning it in?  It’s not their fault if the meal is overcooked or part of it is incorrect.  Why take it out on them?  Why not simply tell them the problem and then let them handle it?  What good does it do to take it personally and say things you shouldn’t?  Do you LIKE opening yourself up to the possibility of revenge when they decide to secretly spit in your food?

Seriously, does any of the rude behavior we so thoughtlessly display when we are angry do us ANY good at all?  Does it really make any of us feel better about ourselves or the situation at the end?  I think not.  Why don’t we spend more time thinking about how our actions affect the people around us?  Did you ever see the movie Pay It Forward?  The movie is based on a simple concept wherein someone helps another person simply for the benefit of that person, not because there will be a payoff afterwards.  This in turn leads the person who received the help to respond by helping another person, and so on, paying the act of kindness forward.  When I first saw the movie, the thought of doing something so simple that would have such an impact was exciting to me!  Wouldn’t it be great if we all thought that way?  How different would our world be if we all helped others or practiced random acts of kindness instead of flipping someone the bird the next time they pissed us off?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvbgetKzrmA&w=560&h=349]


  1. One thing about me is that I never react, I act; not necessarily a good thing in certain situations but I do attempt to retain some element of courtesy while losing my proverbial shit!

    There are times where I can justify jumping right in to defend myself, or someone else, in a given situation but…that does not include being ignorantly combative over issues that can be dealt employing a more courteous approach.

    Our various personas are created when we are young and we grow up either wanting to improve our coping skills or we succumb to the ways of denigrating behaviors towards others that we’ve witnessed in our development as human beings.

    We currently live in stressful times and it seems that some unfortunate individual becomes “it” on a daily basis as people unleash their anger at anyone and everyone. I agree that it is inexcusable to randomly attack others who are, in all probability, just trying to make it through another day, as we are.

    Excellent post, Diana!!

  2. Great post! It’s true though, why don’t people shake it off and move on? If someone cuts off my husband he does EXACTLY what you described. Sure there are “shitty” drivers out there however, many of us should just think about what could be going on in the other drivers head, like, perhaps their child called and there is an emergency at home, or they’re thinking about the diagnosis their doctor just gave them, or how they’re going to feed their family after just being “let go” etc…

    • Yes! That’s exactly what I was thinking! We have no way of knowing what is on the other person’s mind. Like you said Traci, they could have just had tragic news, or like Patti said, just trying to make it one more day. We have no idea how our reactions could make things even worse for the other person. Point is, it has NOTHING to do with US, so why let it bother us? It’s an oversight, a mistake…let it go because it means nothing.

  3. Very thought-provoking post, Diana! I need to remember this myself when I let my Irish temper run away with me. 🙂

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