As we were leaving Home Depot last Saturday, my husband, Joe, opened the car door for me. Suddenly, a young man who was collecting shopping carts, was excitedly talking to Joe. And applauding. He was totally impressed and told my husband that this would be the only time all weekend that he would see this simple act of chivalry.
Now, I’m not saying that all men should be opening doors for women, although it does make me feel treasured, but the incident did sadden me that manners have generally been discarded. I grew up on a cattle ranch but we were taught manner. Our table was properly set for every meal. The fork was placed to the left of the plate and knife and spoon to the right. The water glass was above the knife. Of course, when we had a holiday dinner, we added a salad fork beside the dinner fork and a salad plate. These are basics but how many times do you attend a luncheon or dinner where others seated at your table have no idea which bread plate or napkin belongs to them?
Eating habits have generally deteriorated as well. It is rare when dining out, not to have diners nearby eating with their mouths open or talking while eating. Some even eat with their elbows on the table while shoveling food with their hand over the top of the fork. It does take the pleasure out of dining in a restaurant
I am sure much of the demise of the niceties of eating can be attributed to families not sitting down to traditional meals any more. With both children and parents having such busy schedules, eating is done on the run, resorting to the drive-through of a fast-food restaurant. We are guilty as well. We often eat while watching the news. It is easy not to observe proper manners in such a setting.
I don’t get the chewing gum thing either. Often, I encounter people who chew gum all of the time. Recently, I attended a lovely tea at the Ritz Carlton. Ladies were beautifully dressed, complete with elegant hat. Out of the periphery of my eye, I noticed a lady aggressively chewing gum. I was curious as to what she would do with it when the tea sandwiches arrived. Amazingly, between the sandwiches, and the desserts, I noticed this woman was again attacking her chewing gum. How did she do that? Has she mastered eating with gum in her mouth? Only she can answer that question.
I saved the biggest offender for last – the cell phone! How often do you encounter people sharing lunch or dinner and ignoring each other while they text or talk on the phone? Didn’t they choose to eat together so that they could enjoy each other’s company? Or how irritating to be in a public place and someone is talking so loudly on his cell phone that you cannot only hear everything but you can’t even enjoy your own conversation?