Common Courtesy Rules for the 21st Century

courtesy - smiley faceLet’s face it. We’re all busy. Life now is much harder than it was back in the days before cell phones, the internet and Roomba vacuum cleaning robots. There’s barely enough time in the day to update our Facebook status, let alone find time to see if our kids remembered to make themselves dinner before putting themselves to bed.

In a more primitive era, say around 1989, life was far less complicated. People had much more time to show appreciation and be considerate of others. But thanks to social media and 982 cable channels to choose from, our lives are much more hectic. Nonetheless, it’s still important to try to be polite – okay, maybe not that important come to think about it, but still something to think about when you’re not too busy admiring your own reflection in the window at Prada’s. Here are some common courtesy guidelines to ensure you extend every bit as much consideration to others as do, say, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Tip #1: Cell phone etiquette: One thing we can all agree on is how much fun it is to talk on your cell phone anytime, anywhere. But when using your phone in public, be sensitive to people around you.  When yakking on your phone to your buddy Eddie while watching a film in a crowded theatre, smile at the person next to you and whisper, “This will only take a minute. The game is in sudden death overtime.”

If you receive a phone call while dining at a nice restaurant on a first date, kindly explain to your date that you simply must take this important call because it’s from your gravely ill elderly mother. Be careful not to scream “Woo hoo!” and first bump the guy at the next table when your buddy Eddie informs you that your team won the game in double overtime. Then wipe a tear from your eye to show how concerned you are about your ill elderly mother.

courtesy - cell phone guyTip #2: Feigning sympathy: If you’re like most people, you simply don’t have time to express sympathy and concern for every tragedy that besets your friends. Don’t feel guilty. You have more than enough grief to contend with in your own life ever since you found out that the repairs on your BMW’s transmission are going to cost $400 more than expected. But it’s still nice to look like you care. Because you’re busy, I suggest posting a heartfelt sympathy message on their Facebook page, like “Sorry. That sucks.” Keep your post to a maximum of four words. People in grief don’t have time to waste reading longwinded Facebook condolence messages.

Tip #3: Courteous driving: When cutting someone off in traffic, you may have heard that it’s thoughtful to give the other driver the proverbial “thank you” wave. Sure, but who has the time? You’ve got more important things to focus on – like replying to the latest text from your hot new girlfriend. If you don’t have time to wave your entire hand, just extend a finger instead. Any finger will do.

Speaking of driving, when tailgating the car in front of you because they’re only going 60 mph in a 55 mph zone and you’re in a hurry, be sure to get as close as possible so that you can be certain they’re aware of your presence. It’s a nice gesture to flash your headlights repeatedly so they can understand that your time is more important than their safety. If that does not work, apply steady pressure on your horn until they realize that you’re in an emergency – by which, of course, I mean you’re going to be late for the kick-off of the game on the large screen at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Tip #4: Dealing with clerks and cashiers: Some people feel that it’s important to treat cashiers, store clerks and waiters with respect. But the people who feel that way are usually cashiers, store clerks or waiters. You don’t have time to be polite to every minimum-wage servant you encounter. You’re a busy person. You have to be selective. That’s why you always make time to be nice to that young barista at the Bikini Baristas drive-thru. She has the cutest giggle when you stuff your $5 tip into her bra.

courtesy - Facebook postTip #5: Spending time with elderly family members: If you have a few minutes over the course of the month, it’s a nice gesture to call your elderly mother to let her think you’re thinking about her. But because you’d rather spend the time checking out tweets from Miley Cyrus, I suggest calling when you know they’re serving lunch at your mom’s nursing home. That way, you can just leave a thoughtful-sounding voicemail and not waste time actually conversing with her about what she had for lunch that day. Besides, Miley just tweeted she had kimchi for lunch. Awesome.

Tip #6: Pretending to care about what the other person is talking about: A common problem that most people have these days is waiting for some other person to stop droning on with their incredibly boring story about what they did last weekend so you can tell your far more interesting story about what you did last weekend. It’s courteous to act like you care about what they’re saying, so be sure to nod your head and insert comments like “uh huh” and “I see” every few minutes. Avoid rolling your eyes in boredom when they start going into details about their kitchen remodeling project. Once they have paused long enough to take a breath, that’s your signal to switch the subject to something far more interesting – like details about your kitchen remodeling project.

Our lives are hectic. There’s not enough time to be nice to every person we encounter. Just think what kind of a world this would be if we always had to slow down to hold the door for the person behind us, or say thank you every time someone did something kind for us. Most people these days don’t have the time to be nice to everybody. They barely have time for the three most important people in their life: me, myself and I.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. That is if you have the time. I can see you’re pretty busy checking out your LinkedIn profile.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014

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  • Published On Mar. 05, 2014 by TEJ
  • One Comments


    1. Drew Fisher
      3/7/14

      When I finally got to the end of your post, Tim, I had almost forgotten what I was going to say. In fact, I — oh, yeah, Miley had kimchi for lunch? Thank GOD. I thought the sewer system had backed up. Here’s to consideration and good taste and all that other crap.

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