Common courtesy is not so common

Jesse Gomez

Is it just my imagination or has common courtesy become a not-so common practice? Why have our values and courtesy toward others taken such a decline? Are we too busy, swept up in the everyday hustle and bustle that we forget to take a second and look out for our common man? Or maybe it’s our surroundings — the entertainment industry showing us being nice and courteous isn’t as cool as not caring.

I spend a lot of time out and about in the world, and it gives me time to observe others and witness firsthand how little effort people put into common courtesy and general politeness. It has almost become a daily occurrence for me to see both youngsters and adults pass up the chance to be courteous to others. Now maybe they aren’t being deliberately rude, but they act as if they oblivious to the impact their behavior can have on others.

Whether it’s not holding the door open for people with their hands full or simply opting to pay attention and not scroll through your phone while someone is mid-conversation. These are small things, but still rude and I know we can do better.

I may be an old-fashioned soul but I still look for opportunities to hold the door open for others when I leave a room. I was taught at a young age that when you reply to someone you answer with a yes or a no, not yup or a mere shrug of the shoulders, and always look someone in the eye when speaking or being spoken too. If you ask for something, say please, if you receive something, say thank you. Seems like the basics, right? In our current society, it may not be so basic as most would assume.

Some of you may think that politeness and decency are out dated and would go unnoticed anyway so why put in the effort? Well, you’re wrong. I’ll never forget the appreciation I received from a clerk for merely taking off my hat. My number was called and I walked to her window for assistance and before I could speak she stopped me and said, “I really appreciate you doing that.” I was unaware of what I had done and replied with “for what?” She explained that people my age come in and out all day with hats and sunglasses on and never take them off when conversing with her. She shared how important it was to her to look in the eyes of the people she helped and that she was glad to see manners still existed.  

All I did was unknowingly take off my hat before I began to speak and I made this woman’s day a little bit brighter. Imagine if we took responsibility for our everyday actions and put some real effort into common courtesy.

Although we live in a technology-driven society that takes us away from human interaction more and more we must not forget what it truly means to be human. We aren’t here for a long time and while we are it’s important to try to leave it better than we found it. It all starts with treating one another with more care and being aware of the power of human kindness.

Regardless of the reason for our society’s apparent decline in common courtesy it’s important to remember that being a kind and caring person doesn’t cost anything, it is free to mind our P’s and Q’s and do something nice for someone other than ourselves. It’s easy to assume that your kindness will go unnoticed but I promise you it makes a difference and people will appreciate it. We all must co-habitat in this world and if we all give a helping hand from time to time the journey will be a pleasant one.