Thursday, May 6, 2010

Uncommon Courtesy

common courtesyI have been mulling this one over in my head for a little while now.  Several experiences lately have reminded me that what used to be considered “common courtesy” is now very uncommon.  Let me explain. 

(Please note: this is not a post directed at any person in my life specifically.  It is mostly from recent experiences with strangers that has prompted this post).

The courtesy of a phone call.  Whatever happened to letting someone know if plans go awry?  I have a piano student who frequently does not show up to her lesson.  (This of course is the fault of the parent).  I have only received a phone call on rare occasions.  Once I was sent an email, thirty minutes before the lesson, and I did not receive the email until after the lesson would have been over.  If you are supposed to meet someone, have ancourtesy patrol appointment, or are committed to attend something, it is common courtesy to call (not email, text, etc., unless you are SURE that person will receive the email or text in time) and let them know.  I encountered this consistently as a manager at McDonalds.  Crew members would just not show up to work, and never called to explain if they were sick, the car was broken, or what was the problem.  It is so frustrating!  Most people are very understanding once they receive the facts or know the situation.

The courtesy of a reply.  I once worked in a place where a reply to an email was expected, even if it was just to say “message received.”  Have you ever sent an email and never heard back from the recipient?  You are left to wonder if they received your email, if they agree with what you said, or if they are going to do what you asked.  Especially if a specific question is asked (which demands an answer), give the common courtesy of a reply!  Let me be the first to say that I am not perfect, and I am sure there are emails which I have not answered.  But I try to always send a little response so the sender knows I got the message. 

The courtesy in traffic.  Okay – I know – I am an aggressive driver.  (It’s my dad’s fault.)  However, there is a common courtesy in driving which is rarely displayed today.  This is a two way street (pun intended).  There is the courtesy of using your blinker to “ask” someone to let you over.  It “drives” me crazy when there is a lane merge, and people just assume that they can force their way into your lane of traffic.  If they have their blinker on, I always make way and let them in.  They “asked” nicely.  It also drives me crazy when I am the one trying to merge, I have my blinker on, and NOBODY will let me in!  C’mon people…common courtesy!  The other one that gets me is when you are backing out of a parking space.  People just  assume that if their backup lights are on that the whole world is going to stop, when they are cutting people off who have the right of way.  On the other side, when you see someone having a difficult time getting the space to backup, stop and let them get out of their spot!  It is always so nice when someone slows down to let me merge, or motions me to go ahead and back up, or allows me to turn first.  You know…it’s common courtesy.  (By the way, common courtesy should not trump normal traffic rules.  There is nothing worse than a person at a four-way stop who is being “nice” and letting everyone else go first when they have the right of way.  It is confusing).

The courtesy of considering others.  I recently responded to a Craigslist ad and requested to set up a time to view the item for sale.  I gave my phone number.  Since I accidentally left my phone at home that day I set up a forwarding message to go to Ben’s phone.  Instead of calling, listening to my message, and calling the other number (or just leaving a voicemail), this person text courtesy messaged me.  Twice!  They assumed that my phone number was a cell phone, and they assumed that I accept text messages.  In reality, we don’t text message, but I have not blocked texts on my phone because sometimes that is the only way to get through to Kenny (he has poor reception in the mountains).  We pay for every text.  Just because text messaging is popular doesn’t mean that everyone does it or wants to pay for it.  Just because email is a preferred mode of communication these days doesn’t mean everyone lives by their computer and will get your email instantaneously.  You might need to call (especially if it is a sensitive matter…don’t email it.  Email can be so easily misunderstood).  Just because you stay up until 11 p.m. doesn’t mean the person you are calling does the same (we have friends who don’t like calls past 9 p.m.).  Give the common courtesy of considering the other person and their preferences.

The common courtesy of politeness.  I try to be courteous with other people in the way that I address them or interact with them.  In the south a lot of people default to “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.”  That is nice – no matter what part of the country you live in.  Even “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” are not heard as often.  It drives me nuts when a customer service representative interrupts and cuts me off in the middle of my sentence.  That’s not courteous, especially from someone who is supposed to be providing service.  I really dislike rude cashiers.  A little smile and friendly “hello” goes a LONG way!  And what about those people who let their dog “go” courtesy begins with meanywhere and never pick it up and dispose of it?  I was pleasantly surprised the other day at the post office to have a gentleman get up from his seat and rush to hold the door open for me as I struggled with car seat and package.  Another person picked up Elaine’s pacifier which she had dropped and came to return it to me.  It makes people feel appreciated when others are courteous. 

Now I am not perfect on any of these issues.  Since they have all aggravated me recently, I am trying to do much better.  As I talked to Ben he commented that common courtesy is very uncommon these days.  It’s something to think about…and I’m sure we can all do better.  Recently I have been convicted that when I do not give a common courtesy (especially in person), I am hurting my testimony for Christ.  I need to be leaving a good impression, not a bad one.

Common courtesy.  Think about it…

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree, Andrea. I could go & on with this subject. Particularly, when you mail a gift and never hear if it was received. :(

    Hope y'all are doing well in NYC.

    Melanie Lynn


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