Mr. Manners: What Annoys You?
Believe it or not, manners and courtesy boil down to respect. It is about understanding the situation, and doing what deems to be the least offensive. Over the past few months, in my writings, I have shared stories that place how we act in situs. Through the years, I have faced a myriad of blunders. I have a forum to share it with others. Face it, we all make mistakes. Me, more often than most. What is important is to learn from them, and when you can, teach. Teaching is one of the most civil things to do.
I pointed out in a previous column that there is an increasing rudeness in our midst, and that rudeness is more pervasive with social media’s control. The most important thought at this point is to center yourself and focus on what is important. Often, I say, think the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12).
There are things that annoy many of us, and if it annoys, it is bound to be discourteous. I have an extremely bad habit of chewing ice and shaking my legs at the table. The ice cracking can be nerve-wracking Margie tells me, given a very quiet setting, like a dining room. Or my leg shaking under the dining table, and my aunt would sceam, “Temblor (Earthquake)!”
Mobile phones, texts, DMs, or emails may take away a lot of the nuance of conversation. A simple answer, or no answer to a query, especially, should it be sensitive can leave a person in a quandary. Only recently, I texted a long-time friend to check on them, and had no reply. Funny, I had spoken to him the week before and had a long coffee. Then, nothing. The first week, I left it as busy, then as the months passed, despite a text or email, nothing. Then I ask a common acquaintance how the person is doing. He says they chat often, so I was wondering, did I do anything? Common courtesy would be a simple reply. I will always respect the person anyway, but I just want to know if I can be of help.
Manners come in many forms. They are essential because they reflect a certain level of concern for your surroundings. It's a mindset that should cut all classes. Being kind, mindful, and simply aware make a difference in our very tough days.
These are some of my thoughts on how we can make days less annoying:
Take the high road. Sometimes people can get carried away, and can inadvertently offend you. Just smile, and don’t engage, especially on social media, where it can become a mad house. Trust me, I have been there.
Understand the difference between “Inviting” and “having dinner.” Going dutch or KKB (kanya-kanyang bayad) is alive and well. But when you invite people out, it is expected that you foot the bill. Having dinner out together means splitting the bill. Take a mental note of what you are spending. It’s the drinks that can get you carried away, so just be sure to be ready to give more than your share. A dinner group usually has an accountant (like the designated driver) and they will return change. Remember to always allocate for tax and tip!
Don’t forget to tip. What gets my goat are people who spend thousands at the grocery, and give 20 pesos to bag boy. Come on, what's another 100 pesos? Or the tip at the restaurant, despite service charge. In these times, 50 pesos isn’t even the cost of the coffee you order. This is all about karma, and paying it forward. Do you realize that the tips you give the service staff is what they use for transportation or to buy food for their family till the next payday?
Dropping in unannounced. This may sound very Victorian, but you don’t need to send a pageboy with a note to pay a visit–a simple text would do. I live in a community where we often say, "oh, just drop by anytime." But what that really means is send me a text, and of course we would love to have you. Other times, you can get caught up in the mad traffic rush and just want to hang at the friend's place to pass the time. Always send a message and ask if it is okay. Pinoys always like to ask people for dinner, but what happens if they have other plans?
Introductions. It is very awkward, but everyone assumes you know one another. When meeting someone, always do the pleasantries, and introduce. Who knows they may already know each other. I, on the other hand, am extremely forgetful. Sometimes I play 20 questions to see if I can figure out where we have met, but heck, life is too short. Just ask, right?
Chivalry is not dead. Men should walk by a woman’s left side. When crossing the street, allow the man or stronger person play the role of bouncer to shield from oncoming traffic. Open the door for anyone, man or woman, and let them pass. Let people with fewer items at the grocery counter go ahead. And when it rains, slow down so you don’t splash gutter water on the pedestrians.
Smoking is okay if... Margie is a smoker, and I used to smoke, or have an occasional cigar. Always ask your host if it is okay to smoke, or if so, where is the designated smoking spot. For vaping, you should always ask. Do not assume because it’s just smoke, like that of an IQOS ciggie, its okay. Some people don’t like the smell. Period.
Be on time. I cannot stop talking about this. It is the ultimate form of respect to your host or to those you are meeting with. Be mindful, please. It is said that when you are on time, you may be late. Hahaha, a few minutes early is best.
Idle gossip. Face it, we are a prattle prone lot. But does it make us any better to diss someone who isn’t there to defend themselves. I have seen so many people chaffed by idle talk that can really ruin a person. And it is downright negative.
Be positive. I think we are in a society that idolizes the negative. People find ways to put down another. Is it worth it? Does it make you any better? Is it any of your business? Me, I just think of how lucky I am to be alive after my TIA two years ago, or Margie taking me back after a 7-year separation, or just an opportunity to write and share with you my thoughts through this column.
My list of annoying topics can go on and on, but I think we just need to remember is to be kind. With that I leave with you with a quote by Emily Post, an American writer synonymous with manners and etiquette:
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”