While I’m all for respectful social comportment, “good manners” is often like “good Christians”, just another way for those at the top of the pile to enforce their version of acceptable behavior on those subordinate to them. Often, the reason for certain behavior is lost or changed, but the demand for ritual continues. Kitchen forks and knives came into existence to reduce the slashings and stabbings with daggers at Renaissance banquets.
Much of good manners is either the rich trying to get the poor to imitate them, or the poor trying to pretend they are not poor. Everything is relative. The, a plate for this food and a glass for that wine, means nothing to a kid from Kenya who is lucky to have an old tin can or half a gourd to hold a little food. When first married, my father always left a little something on his plate, and it disturbed my Scottish mother. When asked about it, he said that an aunt had told him that it showed you were well-off enough to waste a bit. Mom soon cured him of that.
Don’t pick up food with your hands, because we can afford cutlery. Don’t lick your plate or bowl, because we can pay for more food. The only one that makes sense is the, don’t lick your knife, admonishment. You might cut your tongue. You can be sure that the Kenyan kid is licking his food holder.
When it comes to manners, much is expected of us, simply because it is expected. England, supposedly the home of freedom and democracy, even today, is rigidly stratified by wealth and region. The lower the position on the social totem pole – assigned by those at the top – the more one is expected to know your place, and act your role. In one of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, two murderers are caught for an otherwise perfect murder, because they didn’t speak to the housekeeper. Why didn’t they ask Evans?
In a perfect world, no-one would be disturbed by anything, but the world is far from perfect, and some people’s expectations and turn-offs are somewhat excessive. I once bathed, immediately before going to work. I put on clean clothes, from the skin out, including a brand-new pair of socks.
After working 8 hours I had to remove a shoe and sock in the locker-room. Even I was shocked to see the foot was completely black. Some bitchy wimp asked, “Don’t you ever shower?” After I explained that I seldom shower, I assured him that I had just had a nice long bath. The black on my foot was just fiber from the new socks. “Yeah, well, it’s still gross!” What do you answer to that? It’s not my problem. It’s his!
Go Transit, the commuter railroad in southern Ontario, has instituted *quiet zones*, cars where there are no loud talkers, no cell-phones, and no music leaking from earphones on empty heads. A Toronto Sun columnist wants to transfer that to the streetcars and subways of the Toronto Transit Commission, and adds his list of dislikes. Here’s why I don’t think he has a chance.
He rails against coughers, spreading germs. He wants them to cover their mouth, and wonders why they don’t just stay home.
You’re sitting down, while I have one hand full of strap, and the other with a tote-bag with my Joe-Job uniform. It doesn’t leave many free limbs to suppress coughs. I’m going to work, with my cold, because I have a shitty job, with shitty pay, and a shitty boss. I need the income, and I need the job! I’m gonna keep ridin’ the bus, till the day after they embalm me. You could peel off $300 and say, “Here, take a couple of days off. What’s your boss’s name and address? I’ll tell him what a stand-up guy you are and slip him a C-note to pay for a temp, and to hold your job.” Until you do, Shut Up!
Sniffers, just bring a Kleenex, or a simple handkerchief to clear the nasal passages, so I don’t have to listen.
Plug in your earphones, because I suffer from hyperhidrosis. I am constantly producing saliva and nasal fluid. It’s a steady post-nasal drip. I could blow my nose with aloe flavored tissues till I sand it off, and it would still drip down my throat. You think it’s irritating on the outside for a half-hour ride; you should try living with it on the inside, 24/7!
Watching somebody spend 30 minutes putting on makeup is just off-putting. Organize your morning ablutions.
Gee, Bob, why don’t you close your eyes and doze off. I’d like to. I’m a working Mom, and I’ve been up since 5:30 AM. I woke a husband and two kids, made sure they all got washed and dressed while I made them breakfast and lunches. I got Hubby off to work, and the kids delivered to daycare, and now I have to endure the ride-from-Hell, to work. I finally have a free minute to call my own, and you don’t like it? If you don’t want to see me apply my makeup, why don’t you get up a half hour earlier, and take a different train?
He did have an insightful comment about seat-baggers, but it just proves what sheep most people are. Who knew that bags and parcels get tired? That must be the reason some people feel the need to sit on one seat and take another for their carry-ons. It is both rude and selfish.
When I took the bus home from a day-shift, I rode the same one that the Good-Christian, Catholic School students took. Since my stop was almost the last, on the outbound run, I tried to sit on the raised section behind the back door, to give others room. That’s where the students always rode, too. Some of the loving couples must have felt a bus seat was less expensive than a motel room, but provided an entertaining, in-flight movie.
I stepped up there one day, and there was only one seat open (?). It had José the Jock’s school-books in it. I looked at him, and then at the seat. He looked at me, and then looked away, dismissively. I walked over, picked up the pile of books, dropped them in his lap and sat down, with my carry-bag on my lap. My working ass is more tired than your books. There are places where these actions might be more dangerous, but the look on his face was priceless. Somebody gotta teach ‘em some manners.