Have you ever walked down a store aisle or sidewalk and had someone bump into you without saying “Oh, I’m sorry” or “excuse me” or “pardon me,” but instead meet you with a glare or rude comment?

When did we outgrow our manners? When did we stop using them? Everyone wants to blame politics or blame someone, but manners are accountable to everyone. No one can be blamed. If our parents did not teach them, we can still learn them. If our teachers did not require them in school, we can still use them in our daily lives. It is never too late to use your manners. We just get lazy and do not use them.

Recently, my family and I went to a restaurant for dinner. I looked around at all of the hats being worn at the tables. We live in a different society now. Years ago, if anyone in our family sat down at a family dinner or restaurant, my grandpa would say loud enough for others to hear, “You forgot to do something before you sat down.” If he were ignored, he’d repeat it again. If he were ignored again, he’d boldly tell you, “Take your hat off before you sit down to eat.” That is the way his generation was raised and that is the way I was raised. Grandpa would really disapprove of cell phones at the table, yet they seem to be a staple as much as salt and pepper are.

Whenever someone says “please” or “thank you,” my respect for them enhances regardless of who they are and what their profession is. Please and thank you show respect, kindness and gratitude. They are habits that we form. I appreciate clerks, teachers, clients, bosses or anyone around me using manners. It shows appreciation to the people they are communicating and working with.

Granted, please and thank you can also be used disrespectfully and with rudeness. If you ask someone to do something for you following it with, please and thank you at the end, the meaning of the nicety is lost. There is an expectation instead of an anticipation that the request will be done. The rudeness is not lost on the intent.

In years past, I have witnessed ways that people have exuberated manners: opening doors for others, shaking hands when introduced, thank you notes of appreciation, ladies being served before gentlemen and using good words instead of curse words. I enjoy seeing these little acts of kindness, or recently, the “Pay It Forward” movement. That is a fantastic way to show others you care about them.

The phrase “Mind Your Manners” was preached to me, and I preached it to my kids. Some of our society members forgot their manners somewhere along the way, which created a detriment to our society. There is a lack of kindness for others, respect for the law, and appreciation for many things, including a job or paycheck. I do not know the answer to getting our society back on track, but for those of us who still remember our manners, let us use them to show others they aren’t lost on all of us.

Tawnya Poxleitner is a paralegal in Grangeville

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