I was brought up in a household where good manners were instilled from an early age, and as I journeyed through life they became second nature. Even during my rebel years as a teenager when I sometimes lost the plot, to be told I had no manners was worse than any punishment.
As a student, I took a gap year in America with some friends. It was a wonderful experience, doing odd jobs when we ran out of money, as we invariably did, and meeting the most interesting people. One episode however, always stands out in my mind and really brought home the total lack of respect for another human being that we sometimes witness in the world.
On boarding a bus in down town New York, I noticed a coloured elderly lady board a few stops later. As there weren’t any seats available, I promptly gave her mine. To my utter shock the bus driver stopped the bus and stated that “black people did not sit on his bus,” and told me to retake my seat. I refused, and he told me to “get off his bus,” which I gladly did. I noticed the elderly lady giving up her seat, however, she did mouth a “thank you” to me, and even though this was a small point, at least for a few moments she had felt respected. The utter unfairness and obvious racism of this experience left a lasting impression on me. As a result I try to walk through this world respecting others, and have always been completely colour blind.
Sadly today, manners and courtesy seem to be a thing of the past, and I almost find myself going out of my way to be polite in supermarkets, banks and other public areas because I just cannot accept that this world can ever be a better place without manners. Manners are simply a way of showing other people:
Good manners will cost you absolutely nothing, yet will earn you respect and make others feel valued. I will always return to the store where I have been treated with courtesy, even though I may pay more for the goods. Good manners can be worth the success of your business.
It is interesting to note that in other parts of the world and in other cultures, good manners are an absolute must. In Japan it is considered bad manners to:
• Eat or drink while walking down the street
• Tipping a waiter or waitress at your table
• Pouring your own drink before you pour your friends drink
To me, simply saying hello to someone, even if you do not know them, is a common courtesy. It means that you are acknowledging their presence; you are saying they are a person too, and that they are important enough for you to say hello. "Hello World."