There was once a time when manners weren’t such a big thing. I mean, manners are always important, but having someone say ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’ to you, whilst engaged in an action or transaction that warranted it, wasn’t previously meant to stun.
Obviously, a ‘transaction that warranted it’, is somewhat of an ambiguous statement but really, what do manners cost anyway?
In my main line of work – tending bar – I’ve been unlucky enough to see the steady decline of these two formerly ubiquitous words and can safely say, most of my peers probably have too. See, what inspired this piece of prose you’re reading now, was just another pleaseless, thankyouless night at work, and it made me wonder why.
According to history, the words ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ were apparently first used by the Romans to add civility to their conversation (obviously first in Latin, then used in English), a somewhat ironic piece of information, given the environment which I work in (one where getting as wasted and as uncivilised as possible, often seems to be the aim).
But how can someone start their night in this state of mind? – Maybe they’re just fucking stupid? Maybe they weren’t raised to use manners, or never spoken to politely themselves? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things?
For some people, stupidity is a very conspicuous excuse. Like the girl who approached the bar and asked me: “should I ask for how many I want of each thing, or tell you what each person wants?” – as in: should I ask for (as an example) 3 beers and a wine, or one beer, one beer, one wine and one beer? … oh dear. She didn’t say please either. Or thankyou.
I know it’s hard to remember to use your manners, when the big scary bartender is standing behind the controls of his big scary drink-serving machine, but you always seem to remember to order all the drinks that cause you to disengage from everyone around you, including all the other patrons in the bar, as you stutter through your order, wondering if you left something out. Oh, hang on, it was manners you forgot.
“Corona mate”, says the next person. Maybe he thinks the fact that we’re ‘mates’ means that he doesn’t have to use manners. I struggle to remember the last time I thought my own ‘mates’ weren’t worthy of my manners. – Have we really become so egotistical and self-absorbed that we don’t even think our own ‘mates’ are worthy of polite requests, or manners in general. Surely not.
You’ll make up your mind about all of this anyway even though, there surely isn’t any clear explanation or excuse.
“Sorry dude, what was that?” I respond – “Huh?” he says back to me .. “Oh, you’re good, I thought you said please” .. Dumbfounded, he’s not sure whether to say “no I didn’t!” or just stay quiet.
Silence reigns, another pleaseless, thankyouless drink is served. Wonder why everyone is getting so messy? – They’re drinking drinks served full of disdain.