Is Rudeness An Epidemic?

I may not be a very social person, but I do know manners. And it seems manners are often seriously lacking in this day and age.

This morning I dropped Charlie off for acupuncture.

When I left Charlie with the vet and walked to my car I stepped into a big mound of dog poop. It is a small parking lot and I can’t see why anyone would just leave that there for others to step on and possibly track inside.

I opened the door and made them aware of this so they didn’t have to deal with it all day. People tracking dog poop in and out.

Then I often treat myself to an iced coffee at McDonalds. A less than $2 treat and one I look forward to.

After I drove through McDonalds and picked up my coffee a car had stopped right in front of me. Apparently they’d stopped to dress up their coffee.

It is only one lane after you drive through, so there’s no way to go around someone.

Why not pull into a space? Then you wouldn’t block people behind you and at the same time hinder the line at the window.

Then yesterday afternoon I went to the Braums not far from here because I forgot Charlie’s eggs at Trader Joe’s the other day. I drop in there a lot to pick up this and that.

There is a man who works as a cashier there who’s probably in his mid to late forties. I don’t know his name but he’s worked there for years and we’re always friendly to one another.

Yesterday I mentioned Charlie going to acupuncture, and he proceeded to tell me that acupuncture is a bunch of nonsense. That it doesn’t really help anyone. That I’m being “played” and they’re just taking my money.

I was caught off guard. I told him I thought it was helping Charlie and had been since May. He said something else was helping him and acupuncture just has a placebo effect.

I was beginning to not only be stunned by his comments, but a bit angered. I told him he didn’t know anything about it. He could believe what he wanted to believe. But that I wouldn’t be paying for this if I didn’t think it was helping him.

He said why don’t you just put him out of his misery. Okay, that’s going a few steps too far.

I told him Charlie was happy and if and when the vet (Dr. Poteet) tells me he’s suffering, then we’ll make that decision together.

This went on and on. Maybe he’d had a fight with his girlfriend. Maybe something happened with his daughter.

But keep your mouth shut about my dog!

I was very upset for a bit, but after I calmed down I realized he should feel worse than I did. And if he didn’t, then something was wrong with him.

I know I get on my little soapbox from time to time to bemoan the cell phone users who have lost all sense of whatever manners they once might have had.

The fact that they often ignore the cashier who is probably making minimum wage and don’t even bother to get off their phones to say “Good morning” or “Hi, how are you today?”

I may be blunt, but I know the general niceties one should have with strangers.

I wish I could say it’s young people who are still wet behind the ears who have these unfortunate traits. But just as often it’s people my age.

Is there something about cell phones that dim their manners?

I read a child psychologist say that if you hand a cell phone, etc., to a child, you might as well hand them cocaine. Can you actually become addicted to cell phones and the like?

I’ll have to do some research on that. Because to me a cell phone is there for emergencies and I have no desire to become fused to one and have it front and center at all times.

These electronic devices weren’t around when my girls were growing up, thank goodness, so I didn’t have to deal with it. But when do people actually acknowledge one another? Do they talk at the dinner table?

Do children and parents merely text one another and rarely speak?

Has this fast paced society eschewed manners in exchange for expediency at all costs?

I can be contrary when it comes to things like this, I know. I can be impatient with people who seem to have left their manners at the door.

Am I alone in thinking manners in general have been pushed to the wayside? And why?

80 Comments

  1. I don’t think rudeness is any worse than it’s always been. People either have good manners and respect for one another, or they don’t. I can only speak for myself, but I try to be kind and respectful anywhere I go in public. I am always very polite and friendly to store clerks, waitstaff at restaurants, etc. There are some days when I’m out running errands where it seems like everyone is crabby and in bad moods and have terrible manners. Other days, it’s the opposite and I find myself encountering the nicest people in public: friendly people in line to talk to, pleasant cashiers, someone letting you in front of them in traffic. That store clerk was rude and should not have offered his opinion to you about acupuncture, but it sounds like you two were engaged in a conversation about it. I know you can’t take things back and hindsight is always great, but maybe next time you encounter this sort of situation, you can choose to stay silent and just stare at the person. Or say something like, “Why would you say that to me?”

    Just as a side note, I can personally attest that acupuncture does indeed work. I’ve had it myself and it greatly helped my back pain.

  2. I too used to regularly take one of my fur babies to acupuncture, you could see the difference it made. And we got to spend so much more time together. I will always be grateful to our vet for suggesting it. Have a lovely day/night….

    Wendy C- Bribie Is, Oz

  3. I’ve been thinking about this exact topic recently and have been focusing on that what people do is a reflection of them not us. I make a point of trying to be decent and kind. And try to detach from those not expressing the same intent.

    1. I normally don’t get into a conversation like that. I’m in and out. But I was questioning him about their eggs. They didn’t specifically have anything called organic eggs. And I told him that I preferred to give organic eggs to my sick dog. It went from there.

  4. Can’t think what I could say that hasn’t been said! Sorry you had that unpleasant experience today. It deserves no more tho’t or angst. The man was taking some frustration and anger out on you that belonged to someone else. Wipe it from your mind, Brenda, and remember tomorrow is a new day; may it be empty of any negative experiences or tho’ts. Nothing but pleasure and peace for you and Charlie and Ivy.

    1. I think I was just so surprised. He always seemed like the nicest cashier. Always friendly and kind. And then he said all that. Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe he has Asperger’s. Maybe I was just the person to walk in and catch the flak. I will continue to be pleasant and considerate of him when I go in there.

  5. Boy! You got lots of comments today! I just saw on the news that there is a water therapy program for dogs in Birmingham, Al. Look for one near you for Charlie!

    1. They have that at the acupuncture place. They do all sorts of rehab on animals. But Charlie can’t do it due to his heart condition. They have this big clear container of water with a treadmill and the dog walks on the treadmill.

  6. Maybe the best response would have been, “It sounds as if you are having a bad day.” Especially when he is usually pleasant. As a nurse, I have learned that many times people displace their negative emotions on others. This probably would have generated an apology.

  7. wow! Lots of comments! This is really a big problem – it really is. I think the tipping point was reached when people started complaining about being “politically correct”. To me, I saw it as being polite to people and using manners. Now all I hear is how they weren’t going to be “politically correct” anymore and any rude behavior is suddenly A-O-K.

  8. Brenda do not waste your energy explaining yourself to people who think they know it all.
    I am 54, and recently started a job with a very big co. I am shocked at how this group of young twenty somethings speak. Their vocabulary is immersed with f words, sh__ words and the like. I was shocked,suffered through it for 2-3 and had to speak with a manager to find relief. I am still dreaming of bad words. Civility and decency is gone.

  9. Well, yes, a great majority are rude these days…and frankly, I have times I probably come across as rude too as I tend not to “beat around the bush” much…I am learning to be much less talky in public places, unless I know folks rather well. No wonder there is little connection these days.
    But Brenda, that guy sounds like he is asperger’s frankly…and I do not say that meanly…we have a lot of that of various types in our clan…with some folks it is not understanding the climate of the conversation…others, it might be sounds that drive one batty (that is my version of it) and with one daughter she simply cannot stand the smells of food cooking for the most part (yes, these too are types of asperger’s). Sounds like he was upset before you came up to him alright. I would not go back to that store if it was too problemic…fortunately there are choices yet out there. I have had stores in a past town where I only went to 1 or 2 certain clerks to check out…my life was super hard those days and more stress would simply have been just too much. It is part of our responsibility to ourselves to do however we can to keep stress out of our lives, right? And also, maybe this guy was not an “animal person”…us doggie lovers always look like idiots to those who do not care for animals!! To each his own eh? Heh, since you gave Charlie a human name…in future with strangers you could speak of him by name only…and let them think it is a person!!

  10. The remark about Charlie was clearly insensitive. That clerk must not be an animal lover.
    I think when he made the remark about acupuncture; I would have acknowledged that perhaps it doesn’t work for everyone ( which is true, it doesn’t ) but that it has worked for
    me. That may have taken some wind out of his sails. Then I believe I would have taken
    my leave. Not worth trying to engage in conversation after that. If this is the first time he
    Has beeen rude, I would just let it go & not talk to the manager. Maybe he did have a horrible day. That is not an excuse for his words. I wouldn’t give it anymore thought now.
    It’s not worth it to waste any more precious head space.

  11. Uh I am a baby boomer age 68 and my kids did not get everything they wanted. Like you Brenda I raise my son and daughter with tough love. So I also disagree with the commenter about the baby boomers kids. My son is 47 and my daughter is 40 both have a Masters Degree and are very successful which they worked hard for. Took my son 7 years to get his Masters he worked a full time job while getting his Masters. In my experience I have found there is a certain generation that want everything for free and it’s not the Baby Boomers kids.

    As far as cell phones many many times you see someone sitting at a stop light and yep they are talking on their phone. I will not use a cell phone when I am driving.

    As far as the acupuncture for Charlie it’s no ones business what you spend your money on.

  12. I like to email you,,,,,,,,,,to communicate. I’d love to hear your voice one day, but for now, emailing is wonderful with you.

  13. A lot of it comes down to there are too many people in the world now and it is too crowded. I was in my 20s in the 70’s and I have noticed a change in the atmosphere, especially here in Tulsa. I used to think nothing of going somewhere alone after dark, but it is too dangerous now.

    1. I too am a baby boomer and raised my son with manners and how to respect others. Generalizations about people, social status, jobs held are often not accurate, and certainly not fair. Just saying.
      Mary

  14. My daughter who is in her late teens works at an amusement park. She’s worked there since 15. At the beginning she made minimum wage and has worked her way up to supervisor while in school. She has been cussed at and personally verbally attacked. I’ve asked her over the years if most of the offenders were young and she said it’s mostly baby boomers. She said they always want something for free and fight until they think they are going to get it. She has gotten tough over the years. She would come home crying but now she’s the boss and when they all think they’re going to bypass her to get to the CEO she never gives in, unless of course it’s a legitimate complaint which are few and far between. She kills them with kindness.
    I feel like it’s the baby boomers who gave everything to their kids and could never say no. I don’t see it getting any better anytime soon.

  15. Consider the intelligence or lack of in this clerk and know he has limited information about much of anything. His opinions are not worth a nickel. Perhaps he needs out of his misery but Charlie is enjoying his best life and is being attended to and cared for. If a vet suggest otherwise then you’d need to think about it but Mr. Clerk has no medical degree or background so he needs to be told to merely shut up and clerk

    1. I am bipolar. You that are familiar with the disorder will understand how difficult it is
      to socialize. Neighbor across street always has a gathering for all holidays.
      I would battle with myself as to why had I
      accepted invitation. I began RSVP “no”.
      I talked with her about not going & she
      understood. Kicker! my last time for
      holiday gathering. Another male neighbor said to me, “there is nothing wrong w/you. You are only using that as
      a reason not to come over”.
      Replied to him, “you are very ignorant
      to mental health you need to be educated before you comment on subjects you know Nothing about.

  16. I am sorry you had the bad encounter with the cashier, Brenda. Maybe he can be exposed to some new knowledge by learning from you about acupuncture and how it has helped Charlie.

    I remember wearing a dress with white gloves and a hat in the early ’60s when my mom took my siblings and me shopping. It seems like an age of pleasant manners. But really, I can remember a lot of rudeness from those years as well — from my elders! Oh my gosh, my argumentative great-grandpa, my alcoholic grandpa, some self-centered and demanding uncles and aunts, and my parents too, actually. These were family members born from the late 1800s through the early 1940s and they were not pillars of politeness. But they expected us kids to behave and chewed us out with blistering cuss words if we didn’t. That didn’t make much sense to me, that they got to be awful and expected us to be so good! I dealt with it by taking a book with me everywhere, particularly when we went visiting at relatives’ homes, and kept my nose in it as a way to limit the amount of time I had to talk to anyone. I got away with it because the adults thought I was so studious, but really, I was just trying to keep from being pestered and put down by a know-it-all aunt or uncle. Most of these people were on my mom’s side of the family, and that bunch still can be frustrating. But I went to visit one of those grouchy uncles last week and he got out his phone to show me some photos his wife had taken. That was unexpected and pretty funny. He is in his mid-80’s now and a lot more pleasant to be around. There are some people who are nicer now than they were in the 1960’s.

  17. People ARE ruder than ever. I used to go into Joann’s often. I always took a coupon. Often they did not have what I needed or it was on sale. So, I would use my coupon on a small item..why not? One cashier told me that I,always did that! She said most customers used a 40% off on a big item, but I used it on small items every time! Why wouldn’t I, since I couldn’t use it on a big item? I was astounded that this young girl watched me ant. I wanted to say, well, I am a teacher and I watch my money..amd since you are here working for minimum wage, maybe you should too. But I’m not rude.

    1. Unless it says you can’t use the coupon for lesser priced products, then there are no rules prohibiting it. She was wrong and maybe you should tell her manager before she does it to someone else. That’s if she hasn’t already.

  18. You said it all perfectly well Brenda in your post on today’s world and no regrets for expressing your dismay towards that man who obviously doesn’t feel about animals like many of us do and I have learned that about people. Generally it was how they were brought up about caring for pets or not sharing them in their lives and let them roam freely. My husband never was allowed a pet in his home so he had some learning to do when he met me!!! He had no idea of what it was to adopt a shelter pet. He’s a sweet gentle man so it was just a new part of his heart he found after marrying me!! We joke about it. We grew up in the 60’s and our parents insisted on manners, hand written thank you notes, homecooked meals at our kitchen table together, limited talking on the phone, tv turned on only after dinner, taking meals to shut ins before meals on wheels, and I could go on and on how lucky I was to learn then how to care for others growing up. I am grateful to have raised my children the same way and now see how they have rules for cell phones for our grandchildren. Too bad many adults today including those in public office have such low ethics. Be proud of who you are Brenda as you are kind and considerate!

    1. A few months ago my neighbor’s adult grandson (he’s 22 or 23 I think) was getting into his car when I was getting into mind. Our parking spaces are right next to one another. He was carrying food and asked me if I’d like some chicken. I said no, but thank you very much. He said his grandma (my neighbor) had called from wherever she was traveling to tell him to take the leftover chicken to the homeless shelter downtown. That just made me feel good inside.

      1. Those are the people I like to surround myself with!!! My family growing up might not have had college degrees or lead privilege lives with wealth and status but manners, politeness and expressing kindness was the biggest takeaway I remember being taught. How nice to hear your neighbor believes it has value as well by having her grandson learn decency for others too.

  19. Hi Brenda. Today will be better! You mentioned you initiated the topic of Charlie’s acupuncture. Initiating the conversation often leads the other person to inject their own comments and opinion. Perhaps in the future a “Hi” and “Bye” politeness would be best.

    1. Yes, I thought of this later. I shouldn’t have even brought it up. I sometimes get nervous when I talk to men and just blather. Been like that since I was a kid.

  20. So sorry that man was so rude and upset you. I agree he might have had a bad day and shot off his mouth. Years ago I was in the car with my Aunt. She was driving home from burying her husband. A company van tooted his horn and was upset with her driving. Since that incident when I get impatient with others, I usually think of what another person has going on in their day. I agree phones are addictive. Makes me sad to see people miss out on life by being on the phone. Also makes me sad when public figures bully others. What made me laugh was when you got a chuckle at my husband misplacing the garage key. It will only be funny when we find it!!! Right? Have a wonderful day because you are a wonderful person and many of us enjoy talking to you each day!

  21. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. I can tolerate a lot…but not when someone is rude to my family…then it’s on. I wouldn’t have dealt at all well with someone telling me to put my dog out of its misery. I would really have to try to remind myself that he obviously never developed a sense of kindness or compassion towards animals and maybe he is having one really bad day. There are many people like that, and they aren’t my kind of people. Rudeness is everywhere right now…but thank goodness there are many really polite and kind people, too.

  22. Mmmm – I see that an early commentor says it’s all about the 1960s. I don’t think it is, for I was a child of the 60s and although a lot of hippies went their own way for a while, they are mostly not living that lifestyle now. The important thing about the 1960’s is what wasn’t there …… the internet and cell phones. And in both cases some people become really addicted to their usage these days. Not all, like you Brenda, my phone is for emergencies, the odd text message and to ring hubby if he’s out to tell him “don’t forget the peas, etc”. My computer is on line all day, but I spend about 30 minutes three times a day (I’m a moderator for a website so do have to look in on that) online myself. And, PS, my manners are excellent! I too get cross with bad drivers and rude shop assistants, but I don’t get rude back. I vote with my feet.

  23. All I had to do was read your post title to say, yes…it’s sad but it’s true. The events of your day were very upsetting and unfortunate, but I can’t say I was surprised. Yes, there are moments of great kindness that I do see on a regular basis, but overall, I feel as if most people are rude and selfish lately. Everyone is in a hurry and always right. There is very little room for another point of view…it’s sad. I read a quote yesterday that said something like, when you talk you’re only hearing what you already know, when you listen, you just might learn something new. Seems like we all should be doing a lot more listening and with compassion. I hope today you run into some of that!

  24. Maybe you should consider talking to the manager at the grocery store. The clerk’s comments were completely out of line and inappropriate. How rude! And yes, smart phones are addictive. My husband used his a lot, but it is now much much worse since he was forced to retire in August. It’s truly the only thing he does. It is really taking a toll on our marriage, but he can’t see that.

      1. You’re a classy lady, Brenda and I wouldn’t report him. He’s hurt your feelings and shown you who he really is and you told him so, but he may really need that job. You’d regret it if the they let him go because you possess empathy even though he does not. Even jerks need to support their families and sad as it may be, not all people see pets as a important members of our families.

  25. Brenda, I could not agree with you more about people and their behavior. I often find that social media makes it worse because people say the nastiest things and more often than not they are not anonymous. Its crazy.

    Im sorry he said mean stuff to you about Charlie. You are doing what you think is best and that is all that matters. Charlie is loved and well cared for.

    1. Thank you. I’m not a fool. If I thought it was quackery to send him to acupuncture every week, I surely wouldn’t pay for it for nearly a year now. But I see how Charlie is if he has to miss a week.

  26. Hi Brenda,
    Glad you stood up for the acupuncture and told him he was wrong and it was helping Charlie. If you did not see changes in Charlie you would not be paying for something that is not helping. Sometimes people just do not think before they open their mouths. OMG to say to put Charlie out of his misery. Good for you to hold your composure on that awful comment. I would have lost it if someone ever said that to me. Our fur babies are part of our family and people like your cashier probably does not have a pet doesn’t get that. Maybe later he will think about what he said and will have seen he was upsetting you and will apologize next time you are in there. That would restore some idea of decency in people right?!!! Sounds like you had a full day of rudeness! I hate days like that where it just does not seem to stop all day!

  27. The fish rots from the head down. Who’s the head fish, and check out the example he’s set for “manners” in the rest of the country. The ignorant, the selfish and the less intelligent will always follow.

    1. I happened to mention something about that too. Rudeness being what our children are seeing at the highest level. He’s following the example of the head fish because he said he thinks he’s a brilliant businessman. And as for the children listening to him, he said well, that’s only half the population.

  28. Brenda,
    You are so right. Every time I go out, I encounter incivility in one form or another. I think it is a product of the time in which we live. How can children learn to appreciate others’ feelings when they are so busy online.I have seen them young enough to fit in a grocery cart engrossed in some game or such. The parents are no better. But to tell you that you should have your dog put down, is utterly and completely unconscionable! People who do not have empathy are very common now. Ignore and forgive his ignorance. Go home and enjoy your little pet family.
    Marilynn

    PS Keep on doing your wonderful blog.

  29. A friend of mine whom I might say is a little “whoo-whoo” out there a bit said to me a while ago that before she goes into a public area, she mentally or maybe actually reaches her arms to the top of her head and pulls them down her body, giving her a mental protection or barrier against negative vibrations from other people.

    Yes, it sounds a little strange, but I do understand her point. Protect yourself in advance from negativity and don’t engage in or buy into others opinions. Don’t ever respond or buy into someone else’s nonsense. Silence is power. You seem well grounded and don’t let some fool take away your power. There’s a phrase which is really a little odd, but interesting….”Your opinion of me is none of my business”. A little head scratching, but so true as you ponder the words. It takes back your power.

    1. My son is a manager of a large supermarket. He has been punched because he didn’t have any rocky road ice cream in the cooler. A woman threatened him and told him that she wanted him fired because he was all out of tater tots. Every single day, he is berated and cursed at for some trivial nonsense at the store. His cashiers are treated so badly. Many times, cashiers are in tears after customers bully them. They are forced to listen to phone cell conversations for almost every person at the checkout. People whine and complain all day to them. Take this for what its worth. It works both ways. You mentioned the acupuncture and he responded. He makes minimum wage. Acupuncture for a pet seems like a luxury when most likely he has no health care or very high premiums. Please understand that I mean no disrespect to you, Maybe, he did have a bad day but you might have carried on the conversation a bit too far. My son has had clerks quit for less. They are told not to respond to customers who engage them in conversation and to keep their opinions to themselves. I certainly hope that you have a better day and a peaceful night.

    2. My older grandkids have cell phones with parental limitations programmed into them. I guess that’s how you say it. The kids are mannerly, polite, and respectful, and they don’t have their phones in use when they’re visiting me. Having said that, I do agree that people you may run into from time to time do not know where their boundaries are. The fact that you shared information about Charlie’s health does not give anyone permission to comment with their personal opinions about what you’re doing with your own dog. And furthermore, any intelligent person would defer to you because you have experience with this form of treatment. Remember that comedian who used to say”you can’t fix stupid”?

  30. I live in an area with a large population of older, retired folks. Last weekend my husband and I were leaving our development, driving on a semi-busy main road with one lane in each direction, and came across a car that was just dead stopped. After was a minute or two, we tried to see if something was going on (car troubles, medical emergency??) but couldn’t see anything obvious. My husband tapped the horn lightly, the driver looked up and drove off to an area where he could pull off the road. And what do you think he was doing? TALKING ON HIS CELL PHONE. Just stopped dead in the middle of the street ?

      1. I wonder…if you’d hit his car from behind, what would the insurance do? Would they blame him for his foolishness? Or you for hitting a car sitting dead center in the road?

    1. It is against the law where I live (British Columbia, Canada) to drive and use your cell phone. If you want to make a call or answer a call you must pull off the road and park. It is a minimum $400.00 fine and points on your licence. The police use many “tricks” to find cell phone users….such as being in “buckets” as if they were fixing phone lines, while in fact they are looking at drivers and radioing in violators to an officer on the ground who will then suddenly appear and pull them over.

  31. I used to absolutely hate going to the grocery store when I lived in the city – the cashiers there would never say please or thank you or have a nice day. Just shove things along the belt, expect me to bag the groceries, and put their hand out for money. Up here in the country people are actually nice….of course there are idiots everywhere, but I guess the slower pace up here means people take the time to say hi to their customers.

    1. I haven’t had trouble with cashiers being rude before this guy. And he is never rude when he’s checking you out. But he was out in the aisles when he talked to me.

      1. Wow he was a real sweet heart—NOT! That’s was very rude
        of him and uncalled for to tell
        you to put Charlie out of his misery. I am so proud of you for talking back to him. And i love the pic of Charlie today. He is. handsome boy!!

  32. No one actually listens. They belt out opinions. The 60’s gave a green light to the ME generation. The live for self, the entitlement the 60’s “if it feels good do it.” Self and entitlement – people drive like it, customer service plays out like it – er lack there of. There is no respect for others, and social media gives another green light to say what you want when you want. Pretty sad.

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