Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What is Wrong with This Picture?


One of our "things to do" on Saturday now, is to go out for breakfast.  And when I am out I have trouble ignoring the things I see around me.  Most of the time it is wonderful and I enjoy watching the sights and the people as they come and go.

But this Saturday, it just struck me.  We were in a nearby small breakfast/lunch restaurant.  If I were to pick a genre for the restaurant, it would be a diner, just not in an actual "diner" car as one would usually think of a diner being.  Anyway, it has a "sit-at-the-bar" area on one wall and 4 tables on the opposite wall, and two tables with windowseats and chairs in the front window.  It is a small place, that serves up homemade foods.  It has great food and delicious coffee.  The walls are painted a cheery yellow, with a sage green trim, and has small floral print cotton curtains on the windows.  It's a happy, kitcheny place to go for breakfast or lunch...no suppers - they're closed then.


Usually we are at a table on the wall, but it was full when we got there, so we sat at the bar.  We aren't a fan of sitting up high, so when a windowseat became available shortly, we moved there.

From this spot, I could see the whole place.  And it struck me that this could have pretty easily been a diner set up from my childhood.  But the people were not from my past.  It was interesting, to watch how people have changed over the years, and how our expectations have changed.

I watched a young lady, probably 12 or 13 sitting beside her mother (there was no father with them, so that's the first difference) and across from her probably 10 year old brother.  From the back I could see her bra straps, since the tank tops of today don't seem to be made with any care as to where your underwear will be.  That just was a terrible "no-no" in days gone by.  It would be mortifying if a part of your bra strap peeked through from under your blouse (what's a blouse?), as sometimes it did, since straps were threaded in a clip and the end was free and unattached.

They were talking about where they should rent a cottage it sounded like, with the mother asking them how important it was to be right on the ocean because it was difficult to find one right on the water. Well, yes, and it is much more expensive, too (which I suspect was the concern, not the availability), so why should they really have a say in this (unless money is not object, I suppose)? They looked at a brochure for a bit and then girl felt rather free to speak her mind quite loudly and clearly about how she would and could NEVER live in Maine!  Well, again, when I was a kid, that wouldn't have been a topic for discussion.  It wouldn't have been spoken about loudly in a public place.  AND it wouldn't matter where YOU didn't want to live.  You lived where your parents were and there just wasn't a reason to talk about where you did or didn't want to live - we weren't paying for it or trying to find a job there.

When they had first gotten to the table, the brother sitting (and I use that term loosely) across from her, had immediately grabbed a creamer that was sitting in a bowl on the table.  He opened it and drank it before opening his menu.  Now, I know this again is a little thing.   But when we were kids, if we had done that, we would have been told - a. that is not good for you, b. that is not what that is for, c. that is not free: it comes with a coffee that you purchase, and d. if you had gotten away with it before those admonitions were given to you, don't, under any circumstances EVER do that again!

Then we would have been told to SIT DOWN...on your bottom, not with your shoes on the chair.  He was on his knees and feet, leaning on the table throughout the whole ordering, waiting and eating.  Someone is going to need to sit on that chair later, and won't expect it to be like sitting on a dirty sidewalk.  And then we would have been told to TAKE THE HAT OFF...not just AT the table, but upon entering any building.  Where did that go?  Of 5 males in there 3 had hats on.  The two males with hats off were my husband and another older adult.  The three with them on were the young boys (though I often see older men with their hats on at the table nowadays).

A mom with a 2 year old daughter was sitting at the farthest in table, near the kitchen area.  Mom ordered her a LOBSTER - yes, lobster - omelet!  What?  Who are we trying to impress here?  Certainly not the toddler.  The toddler was done with her meal in short order, and now mom was trying to entertain her while mom finished her own breakfast.  Finally, she told her she could get down and play with a wooden pull toy as long as she stayed away from where people would be walking.  So the child was at the front of the diner near the front door, out of sight of the mom who was way at the back.  The child made a few stops on her way to the front to stand and stare at the people eating.  She was cute, but that is beside the point.  You don't stand by people eating and just watch them.  We would have been told that was impolite, well, aside from the fact that we wouldn't have been turned loose in a restaurant for one second.

On their way out of the diner someone said what a cute little pull toy...to which the mom replied, "Oh, it's not hers. The shop down the street said she could take it with her when we went to eat...good advertisement...and we could bring it back after.  I don't know how that's going to go..."

Wow.  I want to buy that toy after it's been pulled down the street, set on a restaurant table, handled by a 2 year old, etc.  And what a great way to teach your child that it is okay to take things from a store - as long as you bring them back - used.  Or even better, a way to get your parents to buy you something.  I'm sure giving it back now will be easy to explain to her.  I'm sure she just handed it back and walked sweetly out of the store.

Now, before you go all "glad I wasn't there, she's really in a grumpy mood", or "chill out, lady", just remember, I'm just telling you (if you are young) and reminding you (if you are older), that it hasn't always been this way.  Once upon a time we had manners and respect for other people's feelings and property.  Things are changing.  Change is not always a good thing.
I'd like to see a return to a few of the niceties, the manners, the self-restraint, the thoughtfulness, that was a part of my childhood.

Keep your elbows off the table.
Please, don't talk with your mouth full.
Don't touch, it doesn't belong to you.

I'm sorry!  See.  I can't even write this without feeling guilty about criticizing.  But it's not like they are bad people, or that I am totally disgusted or angry or indignant...I'm just disappointed, I guess.


17 comments:

  1. yeah it's kinda fun to watch people and see how things have changed, quite a bit--and i know, what is it about boys these days, not taking their hats off :)

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    1. I could have named the post 'Hats and Straps'! Two very minor irritants that just seem to be powerful statements in my eyes.

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  2. That's the new "protected" generation for you. It disturbs me.
    I'm not a fan of millennials. I better stop now before I can't stop myself.

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    1. Phew! You don't know with what fear and trepidation I viewed the comments! I was waiting for a hailstorm of criticisms about ME being too critical!

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  3. No, I don't think you need to worry about anyone thinking you are too critical. It's aggravating to see the lack of manners or common sense these days. I've had many of the same thoughts. Just shaking my head!

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    1. Thanks, Elsie! I'm glad I'm not the only one...though sometimes don't you feel like you are?

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  4. Agreeing totally Donna, & with others above. When my husband went on trips with me and my class, he taught the boys to take their hats off when inside anywhere! I am a happy person going out with my daughter & family (& was with my son's too) because they believe children should follow the rules or they're not ready for going out. I am proud of you for telling your opinion, even if the rest of us want to disagree. I also wonder about the children getting too much say in things. When they earn it, they'll understand the point more, I agree. PS-I thought you were going to write about all the electronic stuff going on. I am alarmed at whole families with each using their phone instead of talking with one another. What fun they are missing! Thanks!

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    1. Oh, yeah, electronics are on my radar too!! Strangely enough, none of them were plugged in that morning.

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  5. Seeing so many things change is sad. Where have manners gone?

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    1. Remember learning etiquette in school? Things like how to introduce someone and the order of introductions when it was a lady and a gentleman, who was introduced to whom first.

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  6. I can't agree with you more - some changes are just not good. Where have the manners gone? I (like Linda) thought you were going to talk about the electronic gadgets. It really bothers me when two people are sitting at a table, both with cell phones, texting away. My husband and I laugh and say that they are probably texting each other. People do not know how to verbally communicate with each other. Thanks for sharing your memories of a totally different era.

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    1. I feel really self conscious if my husband or I have to look something up while we are talking to each other at a restaurant. We'll pull out our phones and check the weather if we are wondering if it's safe for the top down on the car heading the direction we'll be going, or to check on the meaning of a word, or so many other things...but it looks like for a moment that we aren't tuned in to each other. So now we try to limit it to one of us at a time and we both have to look at the phone together! It's our new technology at the table manners rule!

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  7. Hi Donna - excellent post. I'm reading from the same book, singing the same song, dancing to the same band...where have manners gone is one of many questions I have.
    How about "where have parents gone?" - seems like no one wants the job these days. Instead we leave it to television, the
    internet and social media to be the parents of today. So sad.

    My daughter is twenty-five and has often thanked me for her upbringing...which is fashioned along your thinking - she has manners!

    Thanks for sharing your diner experience.

    Jenny @ PEARSON REPORT
    Jenny Pearson Designs

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    1. Yes, the TV and Internet are such good surrogate parents!
      It's nice to hear that others might enjoy a bit of civilization back!

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  8. Where have all the manners gone? That could be the title of a great book. The short answer is its not on tv - where many students learn their life skills. I believe that the disrespect that is humor on tv has become the way our students communicate. It frosts me. In the classroom I talk about how we show respect. My kids seem so unaware that their behavior is disrespectful and lacking manners.

    I wonder if other countries are worried about this?

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  9. I agree 100%. Thank you for describing the scene so well. So sad that you were intimidated by sharing your thoughts. The way you remember things is the right way to be respectful of others, but that is not ranked with much mportant these days, I'm afraid. An excellent, thought provoking piece!

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