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Is Common Courtesy Dead??

Common courtesy has died. Yes, the milk of human kindness has soured, curdled and is now being sold as Greek Yogurt at a supermarket near you. The propensity for humans to look out for one another has failed. It seems to be everyone for themselves in this Twitter, Google, Android, iPhone World. “Get out of my way, you are standing in my hotspot,” seems to the prevailing mantra.

People are too busy in their own electronic paradise to give much thought to anyone they aren’t texting, talking or tweeting to. Crowd’s march like drones with their heads down enraptured by the screen of their cell phone, as they stumble over curbs and into oncoming traffic.  Recently, there was a woman that made it on the news for falling into a mall fountain, because she wasn’t paying attention to where she was walking.

Can there be anything that important you need to text that makes you oblivious to your surroundings? Unless your sending me a text that informs me I just won one million dollars, I will remain aware of my environment.  Shouldn’t we at least look out for one another as a member of the human community?  I don’t need to play dodge a human on the street, because everyone is to busy on their cell phones.

There also seems to be the impression that when you are on your cell phone there is a magic cone of silence that surrounds you. Guess what? There isn’t one.  Please be considerate and keep your phone conversations to yourself. Riding on an elevator, if your phone rings, let it go to voicemail. Unless you are on the elevator by yourself, as far as I can tell, no one wants to hear your conversation.

Recently, when I was working a job assignment in Philadelphia, the Human Resources office was on the ninth floor. I am not a morning person, and just wanted to get to work, and my office without the onslaught of useless morning jibber jab. I didn’t want to hear that Yolanda had a yeast infection as she shared it with Aunt Hazel, or Ellen the mom had a son who was refusing to do his homework. That falls under the category of “I don’t want to know your life, so please SHUT UP!!”

Occasionally, I would clear my throat to remind the over sharing strangers that I was present, and could hear their conversation. It never seemed to work.  I respect everyone’s humanity, but keep it out of my personal space. I don’t need to hear about medical ailments, maternity issues or any other personal drama before I have even had breakfast.

Instant communication has also made people impatient and quick to want a response. I don’t know how many times I would almost run directly into people trying to board the elevator as I was trying to get off.  If you are waiting for an elevator, and the doors open, isn’t it appropriate and considerate to wait and see if passengers are getting off, before running full speed through the doors? People are so concerned with their own destination; they forget to consider that other people may exist outside of their agenda.

Please, let me get off the elevator before you jump on. It will make the day go much better for both of us. If I wanted to Dosey Doe with a stranger I would look for Speed Square Dancing in the classifieds.  Hamsters in a cage give more consideration to cohabitation in their space than humans give each other.

I haven’t heard of Hamster Wheel Rage, but we humans seem to be busy trying to run each other off the road in our cars.  I believe that road rage is a product of the digital/electronic age, and the fact that we are too busy being distracted by peripheral gadgets that we lack concentration on our main activity – driving.

If you see someone drifting out of their car lane or driving slower than the posted speed limit, you are most likely going to notice him or her holding their cell phone. They cut people off, make last minute left turns from the right lane, and generally cause hazardous driving conditions.

In New Jersey it is against the law to drive while using your cell phone, unless it is hands-free.  Yet, I see people almost everyday driving and holding their cell phones. What is wrong with these individuals? Does the fact that state legislature went as far as making a law to prohibit cell phone use in a car not seep into your Cro-Magnon skull?  Maneuvering a four thousand pound vehicle of steel, glass and plastic at fast speeds should give you a reason to pay attention. If not for your fellow drivers, then do it for your own safety.

Do you really need to discuss your grocery list on the way home from work? Let the debate over baked or regular Cheetos wait until you reach the supermarket parking lot.  I don’t need you rear ending me, because you need to decide what low fat cottage cheese tastes best.  I can guarantee you are not a Mensa member discussing a solution for global warming. Stay off the phone and away from my lane of traffic.

If you make it to the grocery store, have that “all Important” conversation in the privacy of your car. I don’t really need to see you stumbling around the aisles, blocking the path of other shoppers, and having to a conversation I don’t want to hear. Again, the cone of silence does not exist in Shoprite; so keep your nipple-piercing saga for another time and place.

People get so engrossed in their own reality, that they forget other people do occupy the planet. Unless you’re Barbra Streisand and have a shopping mall in your basement, you need to cognizant of human beings who are shopping too.  It drives me crazy when suddenly neighbors or friends see each other in a supermarket and decide to have an impromptu reunion in the middle of the grocery aisle. Save that for the parking lot too. Don’t give me the look of disgust when I say, “excuse me.” I have often wanted to bitch slap complete strangers, and all I wanted was a loaf of bread.

It is about just working together as a socialized considerate person that makes the daily flow of life happen without stupid, inconsiderate incidents.  The ease of everything at our fingertips has made us lazy. The couch potato society has arisen from their La-Z-Boy recliners and has started venturing into the great outdoors in search of more fast food consumables and electronic devices.

We have stopped caring about our appearance. People show no consideration for how they appear in public. Have you seen the website It is a freak show displaying photos of customers in their shopping clothes at the white trash capital of the world. There are times when I tell myself the pictures have to be staged, because no one would dress like that in public. Even if only fifty percent of what is posted is real, what has happened to this country and our overall sense of decency?

I certainly understand when companies started Casual Friday in the workplace, but our culture has taken it out of the boardroom, and into suburbia in a twisted, skewed way. Originally, khaki pants and no neckties were considered casual, but now it is Old Navy pajama pants and slippers. If you are too lazy to get dressed and you can’t get out of your pajamas – stay home.  If you have to squeeze yourself into polyester slacks, so that your cellulite ass looks like a braille directory, perhaps it is time to rethink your sense of style.

Is it such a complex thought process to realize that I don’t need to see your thong, your bra straps, your ass crack, and your family jewels?  All I wanted was a pleasant afternoon browsing through Target. I wasn’t prepared for the counselor and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome I developed while purchasing a Swiffer.

We should respect the people around us and ourselves. Sweat pants should not be the official look for an airline flight. We wonder why we seem to be losing our place in this world as a country of the best and the brightest, when we travel to other countries looking like the dumb and dumbest.

It really doesn’t take much to be kind and considerate to others. Even if it is a stranger, and you will never see them again. It doesn’t ruin your day to be courteous and hold a door open for someone. Be aware of others in your surroundings. Surprisingly enough, it isn’t all about you. The cell phone is a good tool, but it is not a lifeline. The umbilical cord was cut at birth; you are on your own now. So, act like it.

It takes a matter of seconds to be considerate to someone else, and the act can change your day and theirs. You might be surprised what you can see when you aren’t staring at the screen of your cell phone. The beautiful blue sky is above you not towards your feet.

The text, the tweet the game of Candy Crush can wait. Life doesn’t wait for you. It keeps moving forward. You can get in step with those around you and acknowledge their existence, or you can put or head down, get out of the way and continue the relationship with the inanimate object that has all your attention.


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