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The man spewed out a seemingly endless stream
of profanities at the municipal court clerks. I worked at a county mailroom, and the post office had sent mail by mistake to my office that should have gone to the city mailroom. I was there to deliver it.
I watched in disgust. I wondered where all the manners have gone in society. What is it that makes a person think he can be rude, crude and vulgar to a person, just because that person is a public official?
That wasn't an isolated incident either. I may have received such rude treatment only on rare occasions, because I didn't deal with the public as frequently.
I know people I delivered mail to in the county court system and people in other offices had to endure vularities on a regular basis. I know that various offices in the courthouse I worked in even had buzzers in them, so someone could summon the sheriff's department at a moment's notice for protection. I even know of one instance when someone slammed the door after leaving the automobile title office, and one of the windows broke.
Why has society seemingly lost some much of its awareness of manners, courtesy, politeness and common respect?
Why do so many people feel they have the right to be rude to a public official if they don't like following a rule? Why do people feel they have the right to be nasty and crude to a clerk in a store if they don't like a store policy or can't return an item without a receipt? Why do people feel they have the right to be rude to a waiter or waitress for slow service even if that person has to wait on ten other customers?
I don't have all the answers and don't pretend to. I read about something that might help a little, if it were practiced everywhere, however.
In 1997 the Lousiana state legislature passed a bill authored by state senator Donald Cravins, whose wife had quit her job as a school teacher. Cravins said he wanted to do something to help stem the dropout rate, violence, rudeness and guns in public school.
The senator, an insurance agent and cattle farmer authored the bill, which requires all public school students in the state to address public school employees as "Mr.," "Mrs.," or "Miss." They must also respond to adults with "yes, sir," "yes, ma'am," "no, sir,"no ma'am."
The penalties for disobedience by students are up to local boards but can't include expulsion or suspension.
I know some people will probably say you can't legislate manners, and they may be right. I know some will say schools need a lot more things like money, metal detectors, and they may be right.
I do believe, however, that society would be better off if everyone were taught to respect everyone in authority or that serves others: teachers, other public officials, the waitress in a restaurant, the clerk in a department store.
I do believe values should be taught at home. I don't know of anything wrong, however, with a school teacher teaching children manners, respect and courtesty. I also believe it would be good to teach not to be crude, vulgar and rude.
I believe it would be good for teachers or parents to refuse to answer a child unless that child communicates with respect. What harm would there be in an immediate reprimand of some kind for disrespect?
I know some of you may be thinking what about the public official, waiter or waitress who is rude? It works both ways. Children should also be taught to respect others if they are in authority.
I read of the Elbow Room Cafe in Vancouver, Canada. In the cafe, to parody poor service, waiters tell customers to get their own coffee, to go to a fast food restaurant if they don't like the service and often ask slow customers to leave.
Obviously the United States isn't the only country with the problem. Children everywhere could learn manners if they were taught at home and school. That is if they see their parents showing respect to others when in public.
Louisiana Governor Mike Foster signed the manners bill. Maybe the idea might work everywhere, whether there is a similar law or not. Maybe things might be a little different if we all not only taught children manners, whether at home or school but also stood up to people when they are rude to others.
It couldn't hurt.