KATHLEEN MEERSMAN ’17
Please, according to Webster Dictionary, means to afford or give pleasure or satisfaction. From this small description, it is giving the common courtesy to tell someone you appreciate what he or she has done for you, though this useful word is almost extinct.
Let’s take saying please and thank you into account. As little kids, we learned that saying thanks to someone is a form of being polite. Last Christmas, I watched all my younger cousins open their presents and not even whisper a word close to thank you. Maybe it is just me, but I say thank you for the smallest things. When someone specifically takes time to get you a present, I expect a thank you to escape your lips at sometime during this transaction.
However, this leads to the over users of sorry and thank you. For example, I say sorry probably twenty times in an hour. I don’t know why, but I think that saying sorry tries to reinsure that everything is back to normal. If someone says sorry excessively for something that doesn’t need a sorry, it lessens the value of saying it to someone when you really mean it. Although saying sorry more than once isn’t a crime, it is also losing its meaning.
Table manners have also been swept underneath the table. From the day I was born, my parents preached that saying excuse me, pardon me, and thank you should be second nature. Excuse me should be as natural as blinking the dust out of your eyes. I am not sure what caused this decline of common knowledge, or do I?
When walking into a building with a crowd, usually the door welcomes you with a smack in the face because the prior person didn’t think that holding the door was necessary. Who knew that holding a door for someone could mean so much?
Walking down the street, it is also evident that if you even dare to look at someone and smile, you are considered weird and should run away from that person. I believe that saluting people when you walk by someone is just being nice and courteous. Even though there is a select amount of people who still smile and say hi, it sometimes get masked by others’ negativity. I don’t really know why only the South is known for being friendly. Aren’t they just like us?
Actually, they are not whatsoever. When going to the South, I am always welcomed by an overwhelming sense of love. Going to South Carolina since I was born, I grew fond of southern hospitality. Everytime you walk into a building, there are people that race to say hi to you first. Some people might find this excessive and unnecessary, but I believe that the smallest transactions can make your day. When you are there, it is clear that everything is laid back and relaxing. Coming from Chicago, it is refreshing because everyday I am welcomed with a door smashed into my face or a dirty look because I dared to smile. Southern hospitality should serve as a wake up call that we need to relearn what please means.
Stepping on to the campus of Trinity College, I got a sense of being at a prestigious university; everyone is bound to be nice. I always was told that the New England atmosphere was somewhat standoffish meaning this new world wouldn’t be friendly like the South. Even though the person who told me this information was speaking the truth, I had an optimistic view. However, perceptions can mislead anyone.
This optimism made my first experience here a rude awakening. I remember walking down the Long Walk, I smiled at someone and they look at me as if to ask, “why are you looking at me?” Being at Trinity, it is evident that there is a sense that smiling at someone you don’t know is unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a handful of people who will smile back at me and seem genuine. I don’t know what causes individuals to be disgusted with me, but I think it stems to the fact that they think they are better than me. This disgust was also translated into a slam in the face with a door or ramming into me in the cafeteria just to be one step closer to the 20-minute wait at the smoothie line.
I think that the decline of table manners and common courtesy have come from our societys’ high pace and apathetic mannerisms. Back in Chicago, the mentality is “every man for themselves.” I have noticed that most people think that their time is more important than everyone else’s and if they bump into someone, the other person is at fault. This might stem from the fact that nobody takes accountability for things they do unless it is something extraordinary. I also think that individuals don’t like to admit that they are at fault. I believe this because people have egos. Why would you admit you’re wrong? This might show some kind of weakness. Not apologizing after running into someone shows that you believe you are better than them and you don’t need to “stoop down to their level.”
It seems that saying anything with the thank you or please is losing it’s meaning no matter if you use it or rarely use it. We need to hope that the future generations learn how to say these words more often. It scares me to think that manners are becoming a surprise when they escape someone’s mouth. Like the dinosaurs in the Tertiary period, there will be a new extinction, the common courtesy period. The coming period is the rude period. Who knows how long this period will last.
This essay was written for a first-year writing course with Professor Irene Papoulis.