Sunday, November 27, 2011

My husband and I went shopping yesterday afternoon, and I was astonished by the number of people who have failed to master the concept of waiting their turn. Adult people. People who bear the societal burden of teaching manners and courtesy to their children.

Admittedly, we spent more time in malls yesterday than we have in the past six months combined, so perhaps the erosion of common courtesy has been on a slow - or even steep - decline for a long time now and I've just missed it. Still, it makes me long to find a copy of Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and slip it into people's shopping bags. Should be easy enough. They butted in front of me to check out, so I'd have easy access.

Sales clerks are easy marks in this vicious cycle. Given the current state of our economy, these folks are eager to please, reluctant to lose any customer, and so they respond to every inquiry, no matter how ill-timed or ill-mannered.

I know we're all in a hurry, and I'm the first to admit that someone offering to let me go ahead of them doesn't need to ask me twice. But the key here is that the person offered. I didn't assume that my time, my question or my purchase was more important than theirs and take that entitlement onto my own hands.

Overall, my husband and I had a wonderful afternoon - lots of browsing, a few purchases, and a few ideas for future acquisitions. We also met our fair share of young, energetic salesclerks whose courtesy and friendliness gave me hope that rudeness isn't necessarily the wave of the future.

But I still think it's time to track down that copy of Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Next time I go to the mall, I want to be ready.

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