What Happened to Basic Manners?

Warning!  This post contains a vent about the lack of manners in our community.  Read at your own risk.  If you recognize yourself, be aware that others do, too!

Whatever happened to basic manners?  You know, the manners your mom made you “practice” at home, so when you went out in public you didn’t embarrass yourself (or her).  Our recent Father’s Day dinner experience made me realize that they have pretty much been checked at the door in public places.  True story.

DH wanted a movie and steak dinner out for Father’s Day.  We could handle that.  A matinee of a new sci-fi flick at the Majestic, and a visit to Longhorn Steakhouse, would make for a relaxing afternoon and evening, one would think.

The theater has a self-serve drink station, so I waited until the lady occupying the entire large drink station to fill one cup stepped aside.  Another patron took his spot on the right side dispensers, and as I lifted my cup to fill on the left, stepped in front of me.  It took three attempts to finally fill my cup.  And that lady went back, loudly stating what she was doing for some reason.  Point: stepping in front of others, particularly when you see them, particularly when liquids are involved, is impolite and potentially accident-causing.  Point: no one needs to hear another yell out what they are doing; we’re all getting drinks, and we know it.

After the movie, we headed to Longhorn, and were lucky to get there right before the rush.  We were seated in a booth in a quiet corner.  That is, until a large party was seated at several pulled-together tables next to us.  That would have been okay, except for a few very uncomfortable things.  When the server was taking orders, as she got to a child about 7 years old, she loudly yelled her questions to the child,  of course in a sing-song tone.  The server was standing right next to me, and it was very disruptive.  Point: you do not need to raise your voice or speak condescendingly while taking an order, particularly while standing next to another patron.  Oh, it gets better.

While I was eating my salad, the teenage female next to me leaned back, stretched, repeatedly flipped her ponytail, and loudly had a conversation with her mother on the other end of the table about a friend’s schedule later in the week.  Point: the stretch-and-hold pose is never appropriate in a restaurant; no one wants to see your breasts or see your hair flipped around food.  Point: no other patrons need to hear about anyone’s schedule, particularly yelled across a restaurant.  If I can hear it from the next table, you’re too loud.  And oh, it gets even better.

A few minutes later, the teenager and the mother engaged in a loud discussion about “fingernail hygiene.”  Right in front of me.  In a restaurant.  Point: do I really need to say that gross personal hygiene discussions are always inappropriate in a restaurant?  Okay, I had to do it: I glared over, caught the eye of the grandmother across the table, and gestured that I was eating here, people!  They soon stopped that conversation.  I hoped all was now well and good.

Seated at my 1 o’clock was a table of four kids and dad, who all looked nice and polite.  The twin blonde girls were about 12 or 13 years old, and sat facing me.  During the meal, one of them sat crossed-legged, campfire-style, revealing a straight-on view of her underwear under her skirt.  I was glad my teenage son had his back to that table!  To add to the disgust, this child was eating her entree with her fingers and with her mouth open, with food clinging to her face and food falling out.  (Remember the monkey-boy skit on Saturday Night Live?  Just like that!)  Point: tween/teen kids should have been already taught appropriate restaurant behavior.  Point: disgusting table manners may be okay at a campfire, but Longhorn Steakhouse is not a campfire!  Point: young ladies should never cross legs like that with a skirt on, Dad!  Point: if your child has issues, she should sit right next to you, to allow for gentle and quiet instruction during the meal, which any parent would understand.  Point: why weren’t you gently and quietly instructing your daughter instead of sitting there, leaning forward with your elbows on the table watching her? (I guess that was the model.)

It did get better.  I must commend the rest of the staff at Longhorn on 144th.  It was getting crowded, and they were all bustling about providing fast, friendly service.  (I’m not sure, though, why the servers were assigned large groups on opposite ends of the restaurant.)  On one of their busiest evenings, the food was awesome, and service fast.  Usually, the restaurant has a very nice atmosphere, which I don’t mind paying for.  They did the best they could on Father’s Day.

Do people really not remember manners?  Or were they never taught the importance of using them?  Is there nowhere in Omaha to get a reasonably-priced meal in a nice atmosphere?  And by “atmosphere” I mean including the behavior of other patrons.  And by “reasonably-priced” I mean less than $100 for three.

I wonder if it’s just my pleasure to encounter the folks who don’t get out much.  Maybe they get out so much, though, that they consider their behavior acceptable (after all, obviously no one tells them it’s not acceptable).  That’s a sad thought.

I’m not really sure how to address some of these issues, especially without coming across as a self-righteous buttinsky. But there must be a way for us as a community to call attention to these kinds of impolite behaviors, in an appropriate way, to turn society back to civilization.  No, I’m not talking about Victorian standards!  I’m talking about common courtesy, basic manners.  (Not even addressing electronics here.)

Let’s show love of neighbor!  How about that?  A second or two of considering where you are, the fact that others are around other than yourself, and the simplest way to keep everyone comfortable, would really make a difference!  A little less self-centeredness and entitlement, and a little more politeness — what a concept!

What do you think?



2 thoughts on “What Happened to Basic Manners?

  1. (edited)….I think sometimes we just forget or have become so accustomed to others not caring that it slips. In most instances – People have become so self centered and so self absorbed they just do not notice, and if they notice, they do not care they have infringed. Civility has gone away. We no longer even discuss being a civilized society the way they do in literature from years past. There is no thought to consideration towards others. The hair flipping thing is one of my biggest pet peeves – had some girl do this with her pony tail the whole way down the buffet line on a cruise one time. DD doesn’t step in my kitchen to touch/prepare food w/o her hair pulled back! I’ve always had long hair, sometimes you have to get it out of your face, but for many girls today, I don’t know, ick, ick, ick


    • Jen, hope you don’t mind I edited. 😉 Thanks for validating it’s not me. Also, when I add to this “the Target incident” (which shall not be published, and we all have a milder version of it), I have to just shake my head, and say a prayer, and trust that it’ll all be okay in the grand scheme of things.


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