Saturday, November 11, 2006

Common Courtesies Everyone Forgets

It's easy to forget little things when you're always running around with 10 things on your mind. It's understandable to forget to say "thank you" to the person preparing your food when you've been waiting in line for 15 minutes longer than you'd planned, or to ignore the cleaning person in your apartment building because you're rushing to a meeting. But eventually people build up enough excuses that they completely forget to use common courtesies in their everyday interactions, particularly with people who are serving them in some way.

Every day when I'm waiting in line at the cafeteria or at the campus center cafe, I watch how the people in front of me treat the staff, whether they look them in the eye, say hello, please and thank you, etc. A lot of people are talking on their cell phones while they order and wait for their food, while others avert their eyes, spit out their order and look annoyed when they have to wait a little bit. I'm amazed how the staff remains friendly and patient with people, because after one day of getting ignored by a bunch of stuck up college kids, I'd probably quit.

So, I'm going to use today's post to mention a few of the common courtesies that everyone forgets from time to time. Your mother may have mentioned them a thousand times, but it's always nice to have a refresher.

Smiling and saying hello
. If you recognize someone in passing (even if you've never spoken), you should smile and wave or say hi. It's so uncomfortable when two people stare at the ground because they don't want to acknowledge each other. This also goes for anyone serving you, particularly if you see the person in a regular basis. Just acknowledging people makes a huge difference.

Holding the door. This one is easy to forget, but it's something that everyone appreciates, particularly when they're carrying a lot or don't have a free hand. You aren't obliged to hold the door for 20 people, but you should at least push it open and hold it so the next person can come through.

Please and thank you. So basic. Anytime anyone does anything for you, use it. And it's almost impossible to overuse these phrases, so don't feel strange if you're at a restaurant and thanking your server every time they refill your water.

Saying excuse me. If you need to squeeze past or between people, let them know you're coming through. Accidents can happen if they don't see you, and it's rude to push up against someone without giving them proper warning.

Picking up after yourself
. Remember, if you don't, someone else has to. And even if it's their job, it's rude to expect them to deal with your mess. This especially applies to public places.

Helping people when they need it
. If someone drops something, needs help carrying something, trips and falls, try to help them. Rarely will this take more than a couple seconds of your time.

Basically, all these rules come down to showing respect for other people. Everyone appreciates it when others do these things for them, and a tiny bit of effort can go a long way.

1 comment:

Erika said...

I totally agree. Nothing worse than bad manners. Yuck!