'I was taught manners cost nothing, now they have a price'
I WAS always taught that good manners cost nothing.
But having just returned from a trip to Brisbane, it now appears they have a price on them, and they are out of reach of the average person.
Maybe I've just been in the country for too long.
Maybe I'm just getting older and grumpier, but it really struck me, just like my distant relative Dorothy Gale and Toto when they ended up in Oz, that I "wasn't in Kansas anymore".
The event I was at was filled with people of all ages. They were well dressed and genteel enough I suppose, as a group sitting in their seats in the auditorium. However, when the time came to take a break, particularly if there was food involved, it was every man, woman and child for themselves.
I never rush when I know we are only queuing to get in another queue. So I would regularly stop and let an older person, a lady, a family with a pram and so on go in front of me, the same way I always have. However, it now seems that stopping for someone out of politeness turns into a free for all with the 'stopee' now regarded as fair game for anyone to now push in front of.
It wasn't just once. It was all the time. Every time I would stop, say to let a 90-year-old lady with a walking stick (that everyone else had shoved past) go in front of me, the 10 or so anxious people behind her would also shove past.
The thing that really bothers me is that not one of them would say 'thanks mate', let alone 'hi', 'g'day mate' or even 'it's about time you let us in you big fat lump of lard'. Even the latter would, in my book, be preferable to these people pushing past as if I wasn't even there.
I think the 'secret' to avoiding good manners is avoiding eye contact. Apart from the little old ladies with walking sticks (they always said thank you). It's a psychological thing. Avoid the eye contact and you're not human. Just a doorstop.
The last straw for my trip to Brisbane was when I had to enter a dining room with my wife. I will always hold the door open for her. This was another opportunity for the no manners, no eye-contact, push-push people to take advantage.
My wifey walked through the door I was holding for her. The shoving started again. Unfortunately, my arm then shot out in front of the 20-something-year-old, no eye-contact guy. Involuntarily almost. Right in front of him.
That got his attention. It forced the eye contact.
"I'm holding the door for my wife here, matey," I said in a soft but firm voice. "You can go with her - but you'll have to keep her."
He stopped. He took his turn holding the door. We all shuffled forward.
Some say clothes maketh the man - I much prefer to say manners maketh the man.
Be kind to each other.