Friday, January 25, 2008

Where's the chivalry? I'll settle for basic manners...

Every morning I ride the subway to work during peak morning rush hour. I happen to get off on 59th Street, where a large majority of commuters also get off to go to work or change to a different subway line. I realize everyone has their own agenda. We all have places to go, work to get to, people to see, and we are all pretty much getting off at the same stop. I'm used to being cramped on the train, getting a little too close to my fellow New Yorkers, but this is how it is when you are commuting on a popular train line. I noticed this morning how few manners people have these days. I have been taking notice of this over the past few months, and today it just irked me, so I decided it was time to say something about it.

First things first. Fifty years ago, if you would have stepped on a train you would have seen mostly women seated and men standing because that was polite. If a man happened to be seated and a woman got on the train, the man would automatically give up his seat for the woman. Now, thanks to bad manners and womens lib, you get on the train and the men are sitting while a great number of women are standing. I prefer to stand, but something has seriously gone wrong when I see pregnant women enter the train to find no seats and not one man offers to give up his seat until someone else asks them to on behalf of the pregnant women. This is a product of bad parenting, bad role models and all around bad examples over time, so that now young men hardly even think when a woman enters the train. It is not a sign of weakness or inferiority that drove the men to offer up their seats to the ladies. It was polite and chivalrous.
Going back to my morning commute... since we all know that most people will be exiting the train at 59th street, there is no reason to push and shove your way to the door. We are all going in the same direction. This morning, as I was waiting to exit the train, this very pushy woman shoved her way from behind me past a few others and off the train. That made me so mad that I wanted to pull her aside and ask her if that was necessary. She got off the train about 2 nanoseconds before I did, which made very little difference in her travel. I just turned to Cameron and said, "Why do people have to be so rude?" Grrrr.

On several occasions, I have told Cameron that if we ever have any sons, we had better teach them manners and basic protocols of politeness. For example, holding a door open and not just for a woman but for anyone who comes in behind you. I can't tell you how many times I have walked behind someone (a man) to a door and he walks through and lets the door go in my face. I don't need him to open the door as I am quite capable of doing it myself, but at the same time, it's just polite. I hold the door open for the person behind me and then they usually do so for the person behind them. Another one is giving up your seat for a woman, the elderly and especially someone who is pregnant or has small children. I can't tell you how angry it makes me to see able bodied men sitting on the train when an elderly person gets on and they do not budge. Many times I have seen other women, including myself, offer their seats before these men. It makes me want to scream and grab them by their ears. The sad fact is that many of these people either didn't have present parents, or had parents who were impolite themselves. It just perpetuates itself.

To be fair, I do notice a few random acts of chivalry throughout my day. Usually, the men in my building will always let the women off the elevator first. And if I am in a situation where there is a buffet, the guys will let the ladies eat first. But mostly the polite examples I get come from Cameron who always holds the door open for me, lets me on the train first, lets me take the seat if there is one and always walks on the side of me closest to the street. And that's not including all the kind and polite things he does for other people. I am not worried about the manners of our children with Cameron around.

I can't help thinking about how much a difference it would make if everyone were a little bit more polite and kind. I think people would be less defensive, less reactionary, and less annoyed. We are all sharing the same planet and existence, and that is never going to change so a little less meanness would be worth the effort.


Scotty Sarah Asher Graham said...

Here Here. Just the other day we were in the store and some people were in such a hurry to go to who knows where and they about ran over my 3 year old. I was about ready to blow a fuse.

Beth&Cody said...

It is the little things in life that matter. I have had many similar experiences and am always amazed how small people can seem when they are being rude and how lovely it is when people show you kindness. I'm very grateful Morgan has Cody to show him the way as well.