Rage against the Rudeness

Is it just me-or does anyone else think that public behaviour getting ruder?

Yesterday I wanted to make an enquiry at the supermarket phone shop. My phone contract expires in a month or so and there are areas I’d like to improve. The booth was busy-one assistant taken up with a ragged group of browsers, the other moved to help the woman in front of me. This was a woman in a wheelchair whose mobility problems were severe enough for her to have special requirements in a phone. I waited. The lady suggested I take her place as she would be some time but I was more than happy to wait and took up a position behind the chair.

A middle aged man walked into the booth followed by a young girl. He strode to the counter-inserting himself between the wheelchair and the desk; he talked directly to the assistant serving the woman-even though he was engaged in unwrapping a box for her.

‘Excuse me’ I ventured. The man turned to me and said something incomprehensible which, when repeated became ‘I need his voice’. Need his voice? What was he-some kind of radio special effects collector? An advertising director looking for a voiceover artist? A patient wanting a transplant?

The assistant, inexperienced in the ways of customer service, stopped his unwrapping and made an immediate and ill-advised decision to deal with the man. By now I could feel annoyance welling up like indigestion and threatening to belch out. The woman sat impassive throughout; no doubt she is accustomed to such crass treatment, which is telling in itself.

The assistant left the counter and went to the store room. He’d abandoned both the wheelchair lady and me in favour of the rude, boorish man.

I waited until the man had left before telling the hapless assistant what I thought, though once he’d apologised and acknowledged the error I relented. The woman in the chair was, she explained, going to be a long time and would I go first?

Later, as I was driving home a Range Rover driver behind my car flashed his headlights continually for about a mile because I’d had the audacity to enter a roundabout ahead of him. Presumably he owns all the roundabouts. In a similar incident on the motorway a couple of days ago the passenger of a vehicle overtaking our van opened the window and gesticulated graphically because we’d had the boldness to encroach on the overtaking lane ourselves . Perhaps the driver of this car is the proprietor of all overtaking lanes?

Road rage, queue rage, shop rage, trolley rage-no waiting, no ‘after you’, no holding doors, no surrendering seats, no thank-you…

Perhaps it is, after all simply a case of becoming older, less noticeable but more noticing, but how dispiriting this witnessing of deteriorating social skills is! –or am I even more of a grumpy old woman than I’d realised?

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How Rude!

                Now I’m aware, as I begin this post, that this one is going to come across as very GOW [Grumpy Old Woman], but I’m going ahead with it anyway. Is my perception somehow skewed, or am I correct in noticing that general politeness, manners and consideration are on the decline? Could it be my heightened sensitivity due to becoming a geriatric? [most senses become rather more dull as one progresses towards expiry, don’t they?] Perhaps in the previous life of gainful employment [gainful to me financially rather than in any other respect] I was too knackered to notice anything much at all.

                Back in the hazy mists of time there used to be a sitcom called ‘Citizen Smith’, starring Robert Lindsay as a young, urban anarchist type attempting to change the world. Faced with anyone whose behaviour he disapproved of he’d write their name in a notebook and promise, ‘Come the revolution, they’d be up against the wall’. I can often find myself sympathising with his ideals. Whether a recent phenomenon or not, there are glaring and unacceptable behaviours out there in society, in all spheres. This is just a random selection of them.

Yacking shop assistants.

This is ignorant. They gas to each other while they are serving you, failing to even so much as look your way as they pass your change. Pointed and loud ‘thank yous’ rarely have any effect. I’ve experienced this in supermarkets, small shops, cafes and bars.

Pedestrians.

Two or more people are walking along a pavement together, side by side. They are coming towards you. The width of the pavement does not allow for more than two. What happens? They continue to walk towards you as if you were invisible, causing you to flatten yourself against the wall or step into the road to avoid being trampled underfoot. Nothing ever induces anyone to walk single file to enable someone to pass. And similarly…

Drivers.

Where only one column of traffic may access the road due to parked cars etc it is polite to wait. Most do not wait. If you are the waiting car, how often does anyone wave their thanks? Then there are the people who push into a queue uninvited, or drive across a ‘keep clear’ box and sit there, studiously looking ahead to avoid your wrath.

Public Transport.

Shouting on mobile phones [often explicit details of sexual exploits], screeching to accompanying passengers, throwing rubbish on the floor-these are the least offensive activities on the bus. Worse are actual assaults. I’ve been fortunate so far not to experience too much of this but know those who have.

Doors.

Sailing through a held door and ignoring the kind holder of it, bullishly pushing through and letting it swing back in the next person’s face etc etc. You know what I mean.

The Cinema.[or theatre, or concert-any performance really]

Eating noisily [and malodorously], chattering, commenting, shrieking, talking on mobile phones, wearing big hats, putting feet up on back of seats.

Planes.

All of the above plus reclining the seat back as far as it will go so it squeezes the person in front to a pulp, spreading out over everyone else’s seat [and both armrests].

Supermarkets.

Trolley wars. Need I say more?

                There’s no room in the curriculum for etiquette lessons. In any case the rudiments need to be learned before the onset of school. So come on Mums and Dads, ‘teach your children well’ [Crosby, Stills and Nash]. You’ll be doing them [and us!] a big favour.