You don't have to be rude to get your point across

Published 12:16 pm Thursday, October 30, 2003

By Staff
Connie Nowlin Managing editor
What is up with people lately? Maybe it has been going on quite a while, and it just came to my attention, or maybe it has something to do with the time of year, or the time change, or the weather.
People are rude, and getting ruder (is that a word?) all the time.
For example, recently I extended a courtesy to a stranger. It was repaid with not a single word, not thank you, not kiss my foot, nothing. That was just plain rude.
Another thing is no one watches where they are walking. They will walk right over the top of you, and should you have the audacity to protest, you will get a blank stare in return.
This is not to mention driving while on the telephone, or using the telephone while others are trying to eat, or enjoy themselves in some other form or fashion, or the use of profanity and other vulgarities.
Ask a wait staff member at many restaurants for a napkin, clean fork or glass of water. See if they don't answer with 'Yeah.'
Now, I have been accused of being rude because I do not use yes ma'am and no ma'am as often as I could, but I am familiar with the words.
What is to blame for this lack of etiquette?
Could be television, or movies, or music, or video games. Could be that people think the world is moving too fast to waste time being polite. Or could be that they are convinced it does no good, so why bother?
But I think this behavior, like most others, begins at home.
Not enough parents instill manners in their children.
When we were kids, it was a given. We ate supper together and we used manners. There were consequences if we did not. And manners were not something used just in public. Why be polite to strangers and rude to the people who mean the most to you?
So what is the answer?
Making children mind, within reason. They should learn to speak politely and listen to adults. The world today is dangerous, and a child must also know when not to obey an adult, or when to run away and yell.
But by the same token, a child should learn early that if there isn't enough room to get by someone, or if you are going to be very close to them, say 'Pardon me.' They should be taught to use a napkin and eat politely. A child should learn to address others in a civil manner.
In a nutshell, think about what you are doing and how other people will feel about it. A lot of parents want to wait until the child is almost a teen-ager before teaching manners. Uh-oh, there goes a missed opportunity. It should be second nature by the time they are in kindergarten.
It must follow hand in hand that if they are rude, there are consequences. It is not politically correct to say so, but application of the heat of wisdom to the seat of knowledge goes a long way in the consequences department. There is just something about knowing a certain behavior will yield a session with a peach switch that makes the behavior a lot less attractive.
I'm not perfect by any means. But I know how to behave.
Thanks, mom.
Connie Nowlin is managing editor of the Atmore Advance and may be reached at 368-2123 or email at

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