So, I was at Barnes & Noble picking up my sister-in-law’s birthday gift the other day, and as I left, a young man about my age, held the door open for me. When I thanked him, he grunted in return.
This is the grunt that teenagers make when their parents try to wake them in the morning. It’s the sound your husband makes when you ask him a question while he’s watching a sporting event on TV. It’s the sound my dog Rex makes when he wants a piece of cheese.
Really, dude? A simple, “Sure” isn’t equally as easy to say?
I’m so sorry that opening and holding open a door (the same one you were about to use yourself, by the way) was so physically taxing that all you could muster was a grunt. And remember, I didn’t ask you to hold this door open for me… you did it voluntarily. When you get inside, don’t go giving yourself a hernia by lifting too many paperback books, okay?
Here’s another example: a couple of weeks ago I was in Starbucks. When I picked up my order and thanked the girl behind the counter, she waved at me. And not in a friendly-miss-America-way, either. She gave me the “thanks for letting me merge” wave. She didn’t even make eye contact. I was being “waved off.” What the hell?
Doesn’t Starbucks have some sort of mandate about extra-cheery, caffeinated baristas?
So, what’s the deal with all this half-assed social convention?
I feel like I’m seeing it more and more often, too. Here’s my theory: we just go through the motions, even though we know it’s more than that. Even though we all know what we’re supposed to do and say, we half-ass it. That counts, right? We are too busy/tired/stressed/distracted/selfish to say “you’re welcome” or “have a nice day.” We’re too into ourselves to really mean it. Why?
Have we become too casual because technology has removed many of the more complicated social conventions? Are we really that busy and tired and stressed? Did we all miss that day in school when they taught manners?
Or are we all just assholes?
You decide. Because really, it is YOUR choice. You can decide how polite you’re going to be to someone else. I know I decided a long time ago that being polite and friendly doesn’t cause me any bodily harm or psychological trauma and might actually make someone else feel a tiny bit better.
Maybe, if everyone consciously decides to raise his or her level of politeness, it will rub off on someone else and we won’t be grunting at each other.