A LITTLE BIT of courtesy will get you a long way. A little bit of rudeness, it seems, will get you even further.
The strange thing is, it generally seems to be older people, the very ones who should know better, who have discovered this. They are our “elders and betters” who were raised – so they keep telling us – to show consideration for others.
So, how come it is they who, when a door is held open for them, breeze through like a galleon in full sail without so much as a by-your-leave – let alone a simple “thank you”?
You know how it goes: you’re walking out of the local chip shop and you see some little old biddy heading towards the door from the other side. You hold the door open for her, stand aside, and smile. Her response is to sail straight past you, lips so tightly pursed you couldn’t jab a cocktail stick in there, and eyes fixed on the middle distance as though it’s your turn to play butler for the day.
Let me state here and now that if you demonstrate your view of her discourteous behaviour by kicking the door shut square in her face, and she presses assault charges – and I am on the jury – I’m voting for a “not guilty” verdict.
But perhaps I’m being unkind. It could be that holding a door open for some people renders you momentarily invisible, giving them the impression that it’s an automatic door. It certainly seems that way.
However, this blatant rudeness is not just played out in the High Street shops. As a driver approaching a narrow opening, you see a car heading in the opposite direction. Being a courteous individual, you pull in to the side and allow them to pass. And pass they do. But there is no wave of the hand in appreciation… they don’t even acknowledge your presence.
Perhaps they believe it is their inalienable right to complete their entire journey without placing the sole of their shoe on the brake pedal, and that it’s everybody else’s job to get out of their way because God has decreed it.
By the way, I’ve noticed that these motoring offenders tend to be older gents wearing bunnets and sheepskin mittens five sizes too large. Their wives (also five sizes too large) sit beside them, resplendent in brightly coloured floral headscarves. For some reason they all seem to drive 20-year old Vauxhall Ashtrays. (The ones with no indicators.)
However, the other group of common offenders are Huge Big Wummin in their show-off shiny 4×4 off-road tractors. (Which also, despite the obscene cost, are supplied minus indicators – the vehicles, that is, not the wummin.)
Well, so much for our elders and betters who are supposed to advocate courtesy as a crucial social attribute. Boy Racers, on the other hand, always give a cheery wave of thanks at the very least, or a blinding flash from a bank of halogen spotlights and a blast of Colonel Bogey on the air horns at most.
It seems that the SAGA (Selfish Auld Gits Association) brigade could take a leaf or two out of the young ‘uns Manners Manual.