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Mind your Manners

by Ron Kitson

Fifty years ago you were not apt to see a fellow sitting in a restaurant with his hat on. You were also not apt to find him in church, at a wedding reception nor in a funeral home wearing blue jeans and sneakers.

Just as Tiger Woods removes his hat at the end of a tournament to shake hands with his fellow players, it's a matter of respect. We were always expected to remove our hats before entering someone's home or office and indeed, upon entering most buildings.

It seems we're losing respect for occasions and locations that deserve it.

People who express pride in their country will often not hesitate to throw candy wrappers or other trash out their car windows. Or, while stopped at a traffic light, open the car door and empty their ashtray onto the street.

We knew better as kids than to throw a candy wrapper on the sidewalk. Mostly because we were afraid of a nearby adult taking us by the earlobe and making us pick it up to dispose of it properly.

We answered "Yes Sir or No Sir" to a cop and school teachers were "Miss, Mrs. or Mr." followed by their last names and there were no other choices. There was no "Miss Sally" or "Mr. Billy" because we were not on a first name level with them.

Miss Caruthers and Mr. Stacey were teachers, we were their students and they were in charge of their respective classrooms. If we didn't agree with that, well, let's just say we didn't get to vote on it. Should we get punished for bad behavior in school, our parents would be notified and we'd get more severe punishment when we got home. Just knowing this kept most of us out of trouble.

We rarely got spanked once we were old enough to remember. It was that fear of getting spanked that made us fairly well behaved children. I remember one swat on the backside from my father for back-talking and I no doubt deserved it. Then I made the mistake of saying "That didn't hurt."

At the dinner table, we waited until everyone was seated before we were permitted to eat. Likewise, we waited until everyone was finished before asking to be excused from the table. We could however, be excused during a meal with proper justification.

This may all sound pretty ridiculous to our young people today but I believe it taught us a lot about respect and helped us considerably in our careers.

I often think of a region manager I once worked under who insisted on promoting well mannered employees. He would take a prospective salesman or supervisor out to lunch or dinner, buy a few drinks, observe and listen to learn if this is a person he wanted to represent his office. Obviously, good manners learned at home would pay good dividends here.

I once heard of a British Lord who walked away from his dinner table because one of the guests was holding its knife improperly. Have you ever looked around in a restaurant to see how people eat? Not only do they not know how to hold their silverware, they chew with their mouths open and you can watch the food being tossed around like clothes in a dryer.

We never had a menu to pick from at home nor were we asked what we'd like to eat. We ate what Mom put in front of us or we went hungry. Of course, Mom knew what we liked and didn't like and always seem to put up a great meal.

If you didn't like turnips the first time, they tasted a little better the second time and with a little butter, salt and pepper, you soon found yourself enjoying them.

We would never ask for anything without saying "Please" and never accept anything without saying "Thank you." If someone was behind us, we would hold the door for them with extra considerations for a lady.

It's a lot different these days and I liked it better the way it was.




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