Common Courtesy & Calling People Out


The other day, I was walking into a building. (This is thrilling, I know!) It was a courthouse to be exact. I had jury duty. The man in front of me didn’t hold the door. Now, I don’t need a knight—I’m no damsel in distress. But I was directly behind him so, when he let that door go, it slammed right in my face.

I opened the door, stepped inside, and said something like, “Gee! That was nice. Thanks for holding the door! Much appreciated.” As I was taking off my watch to walk through the metal detectors, I heard a voice say to the man, “Oh! Good morning Judge Quincy.”

This was not good for me. And maybe I should keep my little comments to myself. However, just because you’re a judge or some other “important” person who wields power, does that mean you are excused from being considerate and civil? (Pun intended). Hell, no. Superman? Polite. Captain America? Polite. And they are way more powerful than any old judge.

Okay, so that’s a funny little anecdote that I simply had to share because… Well, imagine the look on my face. Anyway, it made me think about my intolerance for people who lack manners. Also, about my rage frustration when I see someone disrespect another person.

I’m one of those people who comments on others’ behavior or says something sarcastic—you know the type. Type me. Rude.

I’m also a stickler for common courtesy. (I know. It’s a conundrum.) I certainly could never be mistaken for Miss Manners, but if you can’t take 3 seconds out of your life to acknowledge others around you and act appropriately, I get a bit bitchy.

How difficult is it to say “please” and “thank you” or hold the door for someone or smile? Had a shitty day and don’t feel like smiling? Got it. Been there. Doesn’t mean you scream at a cashier because your coupon expired last week and she can’t give you the discount. Or whistle at your waitress and point to the fork you dropped. Dude. Really. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

I overtip a waitress who’s been mistreated and joke with a cashier who’s been yelled at. I’ve also been known to offer an irate customer the fifteen cents she would have saved with the coupon. That makes me giggle inside. Yes, I know. Rude.

I try to let my irritation out in small snippets. It may not be the best solution but it helps me feel like a boiling tea kettle rather than a bag of microwave popcorn. Those are perfectly apt analogies. Let’s move on.

When some kid pulls stuff off a shelf, throws it all over the floor, and the parent tells them to leave it – someone who works there will pick it up – I want to throw my bag of frozen peas at their head. But since I’m so nice, I say “Oops! Look at all those things you accidentally dropped! Do you need help picking them up?”

When someone elbows me out of the way to get ahead in line, I make it my mistake. “Oh, I’m sorry! Didn’t mean to bump you. Excuse me!” As I said, I’m one of those people.

Is my attitude just as bad as their behavior? Maybe. Maybe not. You can label me a trouble-maker. But I like to think of it as a form of meditation. I’m calming my inner Hulk.

What do you do in these situations? Do you feel more like the Hulk or Hello Kitty?

“Roar!” Meow.”


26 thoughts on “Common Courtesy & Calling People Out

  1. How I react to the common lack of common courtesy depends so much on my mood. Sometimes I’m snarky. Sometimes I’m sweet. Often, I ignore it, figuring I don’t need to waste my time on “people like that.”

    May I offer a nice counter-example, though? Today, as I was leaving the gym, there was an older gentleman coming in. I tried to hold open the inner door for him at the same time he tried to hold open the outer door for me, so we both stood there looking silly before laughing and crossing paths. I don’t know if I was holding the door because he was old, and he was holding the door because I’m female…or if, you know, we’re both just decent human beings.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I guess that’s the case with me, too. Depending on my mood, I’ll keep quiet(er) or not be quite so rude about it all. I know I shouldn’t waste my time but the disrespect I hear directed at waiters/waitresses, store clerks, etc. just sends me over the edge. What a way to go home after your shift — being crapped on by people who think they’re better than you or making you feel like you should clean up after them. Grr…

      Ha! That’s fantastic. Thanks for adding some positive vibes to this unpleasant post. Let’s go with you’re both just decent human beings and leave it at that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was about ten and going to Woolworth’s with my dad. I held the door open for this woman as I had been taught and she walked right on past. “I’m sorry, Madam, I didn’t catch what you said,” said my dad. The woman looked confused, “I didn’t say anything.” Dad nodded. “Oh, my mistake I thought you said thank you.” I loved my dad. The streets of south London, designed to let two horses past are not made for parked cars and two lines of Chelsea tractors. You have to wait in a gap for the oncoming throng to pass. I stare at each driver to see if they will acknowledge my kindness. Most do; the others do not realise but they now carry a latent poison that will erupt and hideously deform them one day; I have this power; I know it!

    Liked by 4 people

    • I LOVE your dad! 😀 That is hilarious. My boys (8 and 10) hold doors for people as well. Half the people walk through without a word (at which time I say something like what your dad said), the other half “ooh” and “aah” over how wonderful my kids are (at which point I thank them but say something about my kids simply having basic common courtesy — it shouldn’t be a big deal).

      I just know you have the power. Stare. Them. Down. Mwa-ha-ha! 😈 I’m so happy to have found a fellow Hulk. (Or, at least, a calmer version of me who will call people on their crappy behavior.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • So what’s the collective noun for Hulks? A Bulk? And I’m a seether – on the Tube, if you’ve slobs don’t give up their seats for the elderly, the pregnant and those fighting to corral small children I send out potent death stares. I shall now feel my powers are reinforced. This is what the Special Relationship should be about. Imposing Global Manners on the world.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Bulk? That works. We have created an army of Hulks (henceforth “Bulk”) and we will Impose Global Manners on the World!

        Bulk ➡ :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

        Beware the potent death stare. That’s a valid choice — a fun alternative to calling someone out. Three times (which is three times too many) I’ve seen someone drop a door on a mum with a baby stroller. Another time, when I helped a mum struggling with a door and her baby stroller, she said, “You must be a mother.” Huh? “Why?” I asked. (I wasn’t at the time.) “Because you’re the only one who has stopped to help me.”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. It depends on my mood about how I handle. Even though I like to give people the benefit of the doubt about their lapse in courtesy, I definitely have been known to (sarcastically) say “You’re welcome!” to those who don’t say thanks for when I’ve held the door open for them. I will also tell a rude customer who is acting out toward a clerk to take it down a notch–I do this on behalf of the clerk who really can’t say anything without risking their job. I have nothing to lose and I can’t stand seeing that happen (especially as someone who worked in the service industry for a few years).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I do the sarcastic “You’re welcome!” quite a bit. Though it does depend on my mood. But I have a difficult time, like you said, if it’s directed toward someone else.

      If my kids are with me, I sweetly offer to help someone pick up something they purposefully threw on the floor. If they glare or walk away, I pick it up and make a point to tell my kids that it was unkind and disrespectful of the person to drop stuff on the floor because “someone who works here will pick it up.” Same with someone shouting at waitstaff or clerks. I say what I can to diffuse the situation and use it to show my kids that kindness is key.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Grrr and Raaaah at all the rude people I say! Actually I cheerfully manage a bit of sarcastic humour a bit like Geoff’s Dad, most times because it really isn’t difficult to be considerate or polite, is it. In fact it makes everything nicer. A finding too in studies of happiness .. That doing those little things for others, like holding the blasted door, actually improves your mood, so keep it up. No need to stoop to their level 😇

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yay! Another Hulk. :mrgreen:

      I love the cheerful sarcasm. And, no, it really isn’t difficult to be considerate or polite. It’s just not. I don’t doubt those studies for a minute. It makes sense that when you act in a respectful, kind manner, it would improve your mood (or, at least, not sour it). Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. This is a great post, Sarah! I have an inner Hulk held at bay by a cultivated Hello Kitty. I was the senior manager called upon to handle the toughest customer situations, although really I was marketing communications, not a floor manager. I had a reputation for being able to diffuse the worst Hulks so floor managers called on me for back up. Once, I got a call at my desk from the MOD saying, “Charli, there’s a man in the store with a gun.” Seriously! They thought my Hello Kitty was capable of taking on even an armed customer. After asking the obvious, “Are they robbing the place?” I went down, asked to see the customer’s permit and escorted the man with a gun outside, explaining to him that “conceal and carry” means conceal it and not wear it like you’re John Wayne shopping for organic crackers. My Hulk emerges not so much at general rudeness–I use my Hello Kitty glare for that and it’s as effective as sharp claws–but I speak out against poor customer service. That will call up Hulk more than anything, and to see Hulk rising out of Hello Kitty is frightening. I know. I’ve seen their faces. >:D

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m laughing so hard, I’m crying a little. I don’t even know what to write. I’m just going to use some pull quotes.

      “I have an inner Hulk held at bay by a cultivated Hello Kitty”

      “John Wayne shopping for organic crackers”

      “They thought my Hello Kitty was capable of taking on even an armed customer”

      “…to see Hulk rising out of Hello Kitty is frightening”
      🐱 :mrgreen:

      You are awesome. That is all.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Hi Sarah, This is an interesting post raising an interesting question. You have had a lot of responses to it. I understand your indignation at not having the door held open for you, in fact, dropped in your face. I think manners and common courtesies are important and endeavour to use them whenever and wherever I can during the day. Holding the door open, letting someone else go through, stepping out of the way, smiling, saying a kind word etc, all of these little niceties help to make my day and that of others just a little more pleasant than it would otherwise be. While I appreciate and respond when similar gestures are shown to me, I do not have the expectation that others will necessarily do the same and therefore, generally (I’m not perfect) do not get upset when others fail to treat me similarly. This means that I don’t make a comment (sarcastic or otherwise) and mostly just ignore it. In a situation with the door such as you experienced I may think that the person had not been aware of my presence or had something on their mind. If I am thinking of something miles away, I may make a slip up occasionally too! Oops! I even did today when my daughter and I walked out of a store without making a purchase after having a look around. We were engaged in conversation and I forgot to turn and thank the shop assistant as I usually do. She probably didn’t notice and thought nothing of it, but I usually try to acknowledge that I am leaving and appreciate any assistance that may have been given or pleasantries exchanged. Perhaps it sounds like I’m asking (like an ad I remember from my childhood) for people to kick sand in my face, but I made the decision that I would do what I can to minimize unpleasant exchanges. Sarcasm doesn’t make me feel good, and I have rarely seen it receive a positive response or improvement in behaviour. Your experience may be otherwise though. However if I see something unfair or unjust going on, that could get a different response! 🙂
    PS Thanks for the link to the emoticons. I’m going to check them out too! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Having the door dropped in my face makes me angry, yes. But it also makes me feel a deep disappointment in our society and what it accepted as “normal” or “appropriate” behavior. And I cannot tolerate people disrespecting others (as in the case of the waitstaff and store clerks in my post). I have to say something when a customer is being unkind to someone.

      I’m certainly not perfect either, that’s for sure! 😉 I’ve had my bad days and my slip-ups of not paying attention and letting the door go but I don’t take my day out on others.

      I understand completely your opinion regarding sarcasm. (It makes me feel better, though, and I’ve often received a positive response not from the people I’m directing it at but the people I’m standing up for.)

      Ooh…glad you like the emoticons. They’re fun. 🐻

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you about standing up for others when you see they are being wronged. It is important for people to know when their behaviour is unacceptable. Your children are fortunate that you have always instilled in them those positive behaviours, and so is society as a result! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well Sarah, I’m definitely a hulk after reading this. How rude!! I can’t abide rudeness, no excuse for it, no way, no how. I don’t care how shitty someone’s day has been, I really don’t. As you say, so been there. And a judge to boot? Wow. I am so disappointed, sooooooo disappointed. But just goes to show, no matter what your station in life, true class can’t be bought 👿

    Liked by 2 people

    • Another Hulk for our “Bulk”. :mrgreen:

      There is no excuse for it. I agree. It takes so little to be kind — why go out of your way to be discourteous or unkind. If you are having a bad day, you’re not going to be on your best behavior but that doesn’t mean being unkind.

      You cannot buy class, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I detest rudeness, but according to my best friend, I’m more graceful about it than most. She might be biased.

    As a solution to the world being rude, I’ve just learned to avoid people. 🙂 That’s a great solution, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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