In a manner of speaking
By John Gray
As we turn the page and start a new year, I want to skip the resolutions and instead make a simple request. It won’t cost you a dime and if you give it to me, I promise to give it right back. What is it? Manners. You see, somewhere between Richie Cunningham and Lindsay Lohan this country has lost its way when it comes to how we treat each other. Put simply, Justin Timberlake wants to bring sexy back, I want to bring manners back. Please.
Let’s start with public enemy number one: the Internet, specifically email, texting and blogging. I love email, couldn’t live without it. But like a child waving a gun, it gives people instant power to blast away without considering the consequences. How many of us have gotten upset and fired off an email without thinking or cooling down first, causing a tear that no apology can mend? Our parents taught us long ago that you shouldn’t make important decisions when you’re upset and you certainly don’t want to lose a friendship because you were too quick on the ‘send’ button.
And am I the only one out there who is sick of getting these ‘chain’ emails that tell me I’m receiving this poem because I’m a very special friend, but if I don’t forward it to 10 other people, locust and doom will swoop down on my life? If you’re really a friend, stop wishing bad things on me.
Oh, and going on a blog and saying nasty things about people anonymously is not brave. It’s mean-spirited at its best, cowardice at its worst.
Since we’re talking technology, can I make another simple request? The next time we’re having a conversation, can you, for the love of God, stop texting? It’s rude. We, meaning YOU and ME, are talking so every time you start twiddling your thumbs sending off a message to the mystery third party, I’m feeling a little ignored. Stop it.
Speaking of being ignored, let’s talk about that little moment we’ve all shared at the check-out counter of the store. You know when you’re in line waiting to get rung out and the clerk answers the phone and starts telling the person on the other end what’s on sale, what size, color. You want to scream, “Excuse me, Mr. Clerk, unlike the person on the phone, I actually left the house and drove down here to give you money, so could you hang up and take it?”
Conversely, customers need to be nicer to the people working in these stores. You know that stack of 200 neatly folded shirts? They are not there to be tossed around like confetti. Look for your size and do your best not to completely destroy an hour of someone’s day. Also, if you want to bring in a coupon take the time to actually read it. Thirty percent off Calvin Klein jeans on February 2nd does not mean 30 percent off another brand on a different day. And you yelling at the clerk while the rest of us wait is not our idea of fun.
The word ‘waitress’ does not mean slave. Don’t snap your fingers to get one’s attention and don’t call them “honey” unless you are looking for some for your tea.
If you plan to get in the Ten Items or Less aisle at the supermarket then you should probably have, at most, 15 items or less. No we won’t count the eggs as 12, but be reasonable because somewhere behind you is a guy with a quart of milk and a jar of peanut butter who’d like to get home by Easter.
If you are stuck in traffic and someone lets you in, you MUST give them a thank you wave. If you are stuck in traffic and someone leaves four inches between their car and the one in front of it that is NOT an invitation to slide right in.
Speaking of driving, if you’re in a hurry, do not tailgate people at 70 miles per hour and flash your high beams. We see you there Jeff Gordon, and once the right lane is clear we plan to push over so you can get to Daytona by race time.
And with so many roundabouts popping up (Bethlehem, Malta), people have got to learn how to drive in them. Here’s a simple guide: when entering one, yield; when in one, don’t stop. Closing your eyes and hoping for the best – not a good plan.
Buying a woman a drink does not mean you can ‘accidentally’ put your hands on her. Also, the amount of money you spend on a date does not equal the articles of clothing she’ll be removing for you later there, Skippy. Example, McDonald’s a shoe, Applebee’s a blouse, 677 Prime the full monty. I only mention this because a female friend of mine had a guy on a first date get very upset when she didn’t invite him ‘upstairs’ at the evening’s conclusion. He actually said, “Do you have any idea how much this night cost me?” Class.
Treating a lady to dinner and holding the door is an old-fashioned notion, I know, but guys should try it some time. That said, ladies, if you have a job it wouldn’t hurt to at least offer to split a check once in a while. Chances are he’ll say no, but appreciate the gesture just the same.
And what ever happened to sending people a real card in the actual mail? E-birthday cards just aren’t the same as something you can hold in your hands. Thank you notes are so rare these days that if you take the time to write a personal message, it will really stand out.
I can see I’m almost out of space, but let me make one last observation. A recent study found that we now text and email much more than we actually talk. That’s too bad because no message on a Blackberry can replace a hug or capture the sound of a child’s laughter.
But since you love texting, let me close in a language you’ll understand – *TYVM and with a VBG tell you that FWIW I think you are GR8 and if anyone tells you we’re not BFF then, well, DBEYR. SCSD!
*Thank you very much and with a very big grin tell you that for what its worth I think you are great and if anyone tells you we’re not best friends forever, then well, don’t believe everything you read. Stay classy San Diego.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at