Pay It Forward by Looking Backward

Most people relocate from their family home at some point in their life, but they don’t bring everything with them. They leave something nice behind, something we all held dear as children even though we were reminded to keep them with us at all times.  You may have even sung or watched programs about them. Do you remember? They are called manners.

dunce-cap

Big cities have high density populations so people put on blinders to create personal space. Many have become glued to their cell phones for communication and entertainment. Highways have become parking lots. Many don’t use blinkers or stop at intersections. It can be stressful and frustrating.

buried in books

I Googled “manners.” WikiHow listed the expected tips for basic etiquette.

There is one that really gets my blood roiling. Hold the door for others behind you. The experts suggest swinging it wide, addressing the person behind you as ma’am or sir and letting them go in before you. Yeah, right. That is over the top and rarely happens out here in Colorado.

I have a simple suggestion for 2014.

Pay it forward by looking backward.

It’s so simple. C’mon! Unless you’re deaf, you heard my clipping, clopping or shuffling of feet. Instead of letting the heavy door swing shut on my face, hold the door until I can take it from you. See how simple that was? No one is going to say, “Let it swing shut. I got it.” No one. This goes for any man or woman. No sexism here, just good manners. Men should catch the door for other men, men for women, women for men, women for other women. Do you get it yet?

The person will thank you. I would have thanked you. After my surgery, I couldn’t open heavy doors. I would have to tap on it to get someone’s attention. You wouldn’t believe the looks I got like, What’s your problem?

While in Wisconsin, Land of Happy People, Cheese and Good Manners, I stopped by the grocery store. I had about 40 items in a big cart. As I approached the only checkout lane, a blonde-haired lady with a small basket approached from the opposite side of the store. In Colorado, it would have been a race. This lady turned to me and said, “Excuse me,” then made her move and emptied her few things on the conveyor belt. I emptied my cart behind her. Then I heard her say, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.” I finally looked up. She said, “Thank you so much for letting me go first.”

It was such a shock. I said, “Oh! But of course.” She paid it forward by looking backward.

Manners aren’t dead yet, at least not in Wisconsin.

Grocery shopping 1

After returning from the LHPCGM, I drove to my local King Soopers grocery store to stock up. The checker looked me in the eyes, smiled, and introduced herself. “I’m Jackie. I’ll be checking out your order tonight.”

Then the bagger said, “I’m Laura. I’ll be bagging your groceries tonight.”

My mind raced. What is the proper response to this new routine? Do I introduce myself? Hi! I’m Susie and those are my groceries you will be checking out and bagging tonight. After a long pause I settled on, “Nice to meet you.” Although it didn’t incite a big conversation about the price of beans or the huge remodel surrounding us, it was nice. Just like good manners.

Remember to pay it forward by looking backward. 

Do you think we could start a trend?

Related Articles:

Emily Post – Everyday Manners

Wikihow – How to Have Good Manners

Quick and Dirty Tips by the Modern Manners Guy

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84 Comments

Filed under Humor, Life, Photography

84 responses to “Pay It Forward by Looking Backward

  1. Manners aren’t dead, they just need to be woken up a bit.
    Even the difficult students I had knew most of them.
    They just didn’t usually practice them.
    It’s funny, but they did a lot in my class once we got to know each other.
    Scott

  2. Doors, stairs, elevators, waiting in line just baffles some people when it comes to manners! A little common sense goes a long way along with kindness to others:) Happy Week!!!

    • So true. I just watched, (listened to) Steve Harvey for the first time and he did a pretty big segment on manners. Thank God! It was directed at men, but I think everyone could get the picture.
      Thanks Renee! Have a fab week yourself!

  3. Strangely enough, I’m always pleasantly surprised by how often I see people holding the door open for other people here in Florida. As for your grocery experience, I’ve come to expect something similar, but then Publix makes that a big part of the way they do business.

  4. Can I add “say “thank you” when people show good manners? It irritates me when I’ve been polite and the other person is not!

    • Oh I know! That really irks me. You do a stranger a favor and they practically flip you off for the effort. I will keep on smiling and showing the world that everyone deserves good manners, dang it!

  5. Susie, totally agree with you …. Basic courtesy doesn’t excite anymore.
    Living in UK and standing at a bus stop – together with loads of people … everyone knew where they had their turn in the queue – doesn’t matter if I was in London or Belfast. Just so fantastic.
    This with holding up the door for somebody … and they just walk by without a word, I always ask them: Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said .. and they answer; I didn’t say anything … and my comment back is: then it was what I heard.
    A friend learned me that many years ago.
    I can really annoy with people – here in Sweden nearly all courtesy is gone.
    If anyone offers help, which has happen to me coming back … from holiday on the train.
    It’s young immigrants man that offers their help.
    Somebody has said that if we meet somebody with out a smile – we should give them ours – something I often think about and do.

    • I love your last line! “Somebody has said that if we meet somebody with out a smile – we should give them ours ” Excellent advice!
      I am sorry to hear that manners are going the way of the dinosaurs there in Sweden as well. I’m not sure what is going on, but I will continue using mine and giving away my smile!
      Thanks Viveka!

  6. Good manners and consideration of others are taught at home and at school. It really is about getting outside of your own little world and thinking about the other person. In my central NY area, folks are generally polite, and people appreciate someone holding a door or giving a smile or a friendly wave as you pass them.
    My pet peeve is being called, “guys” by the wait staff at restaurants. There must be a better term for the clientele. Great topic, Susie–thank you! :-)

    • I missed your comment!
      Anywhere in the Midwest, even in the big city of Chicago, people use good manners. I am not sure what is happening in Boulder, but I am considering writing a letter to the editor.
      “Guys” doesn’t fly with a lot of people. We have to come up with new ways of addressing strangers. My 7th grade teacher, Mr. Lapshanski called us “people.” Not great either.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. The Regular Guy NYC

    I always try to be a gentleman whenever possible. Good matters are tought and learned. Seems like this younger generation needs a lesson in manners. I see bad manner every day here in NYC, especially on the subways and movie theaters. Give up your seat to someone who needs it! Turn off the damn phone during the movie!

    Oh god, now I’m starting to sound like my parents! Hey you kids – off my lawn!

    • Hahaha! Spray them with the hose…
      Out here, all ages are offenders. I am so surprised when I go out of my way for someone and they don’t even say thank you. How hard is that? It’s not so much big city as it is regional.
      Firs,t I am going to get everyone to start saying Hideous instead of sick, or awesome, glazed instead of spaced out, taking it downtown instead of amazing woman/man and blast instead of shout. Then I’m going to change the trend in manners. At least I’ll try!!!

  8. I always hold the door for people, kids, dogs, you name it. Even when I’m in a rush. We try really hard to jam this into the kids’ brains at the elementary school by reminding them, “pass the door to your friend” — even the kindergartners. The earlier we can teach manners the better, yes, but we have to stay on top of it throughout life! It needs to be second nature.

    I will say I think people need better manners driving. I try to be conscientious to people wanting to merge into the queue (extremely busy downtown during rush hour), or to stop and let a driver make a left turn in front of me, or stop and let a driver back out of a parking spot from the roadside and slip in front of me. It takes three seconds, and usually I get big waves of gratitude. That just tells you it doesn’t happen enough.

    • I LOVE the idea of “pass the door.” It really explains what I am talking about. There is no need to hold it while someone passes through except for the obvious reasons. Glad to hear you are doing your share to spread the “good word” about manners!
      Out here, I can let a person into the line and they rarely wave their thank you. I’ve mentioned it to a few of my friends and they agree. Boulder needs to wake up and realize they are impacting others with their rudeness. Letter to the Editor is coming. I will make it humorous…

  9. When my girls were babies and carted around in a stroller, I learned that opening a door and navigating through it with a stroller is a challenge. I remember how rare it was to have someone open (or hold open) the door for me. I ALWAYS open the door for a mom and her baby stroller. ALWAYS. Manners, indeed.

    • Exactly!!! How hard is it for a healthy individual to help? I think the whole women’s lib thing in the 70′s ruined chivalry for us. It should be universal to help others who are struggling. Duh!
      Nice to see you!

  10. Was in London for two days Susie and sweet Jesus the people are getting more and more clueless and just lacking common decency as well as manners. MANNERS MAKETH MAN!

  11. *applause* It’s a shame that people have to be reminded of such basic decency. Good post!

    • Thanks Paul! It’s been on my mind for a while. A trip to Wisconsin was all I needed to see the difference in manners. Really people! How hard is it for some of you to be courteous? I feel better now. :)

  12. Manners lost on todays generation.. Some grocery store!!

  13. I’m on it Susie! One time I took my son and his friend (when they were in middle school) to the mall and showed them how to open the door for someone. I made them practice and everything! LOL.
    I can picture you telling Laura and Susie, “Hi, my name is Susie and I’m a shopaholic. It’s been 25 days since my last shop”. :) Good reminder to us to dig out our manners and let them out!

    • My brain really spluttered for a moment. I have been shopping at that store for years and all of the checkers and baggers were introducing themselves.I should ask them what funny responses they have gotten by surprised customers. :)
      Good on you teaching the boys!

  14. Well, where I live, people do the door thing, usually. And some people are still well-mannered on the roads. I’ve been the recipient of the “you have just a few items so you go ahead” in the grocery line, and I tell you it was super nice cuz I was in a real hurry that day.

    I guess we’re a 50/50 sort of place. Some folks are kind, polite and well-mannered, others, not so much. I try, but sometimes I’m standing there holding the door open and some (usually a woman) is dilly-dallying towards it while yakking on her phone. Then I get irritated. What is the proper amount of time to hold a door open for someone? We need rules Susie. We should make a list of rules.

    I keep saying it – Susie Lindau for President.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Hahahaha! You can be my campaign manager!
      I don’t usually hold the door for someone who is waaaaaay behind me. The dilly dallying (I can’t believe my computer recognizes those words!), sometimes happens in front of my car as the distracted walker takes their sweet time. In that list from WikiHow, they mention that no one should text while walking. Safety first!
      Just like everything in life, the bad ones stand out more than the good. Maybe it’s because we are not usually rankled and that is uncomfortable and memorable. Hmmm…..
      Thanks Patricia!

  15. We’re Dirty South Girls, so anything less than yes ma’am/no ma’am and yes sir/no sir, is pop upside the head from momma. And, though the south is renown for their infamous ‘hospitality’, it seems as though only a few true blooded Dixie families are still integrating manners into their raisings. Mathair is very strict with me and my brother concerning the respect of others. My brother and I are to open doors for others, give up a seat on a bus or in a waiting room for a woman/elderly/disabled. Should we see someone drop something on the ground, we quickly run over to help. Should someone need a phone because they are stranded, we allow them to use ours. Should someone need help crossing the street, we offer a hand. It was the way Mathair was raised and she, in turn, raised her children to do the same. We may talk slow, drop the g’s in most of our words and say things like ‘ain’t no matter’, but that don’t mean we don’t know how to treat folk. Great post, Susie, definitely one of our favorite. Sharing right now.

    • Oh! Thank you so much! You girls sound like the sweetest! I was taught the same manners except the sir and ma’am were Mr. and Mrs. or Miss. It amazes me how lost manners are on some out here in the west. I remember being shocked when I first moved out here from Wisconsin. I grew up with manners and learned how to be polite. I couldn’t believe how rude and downright nasty some women could be. I just put on my blinders and keep on smiling! I create my cosmic bubble and away I go! :)
      Thanks for sharing!

  16. Fortunately, my parents drilled manners into us as we were growing up, so the sorts of things you mentioned were natural. They passed down to my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, too, thank God.

    I’ve allowed one bit of good manners to go by the wayside, however. As I entered my late sixties, I quit standing for a lot of introductions or offering my chair to younger women in a crowd. Hope that’s not too rude.

    • I don’t think you have to offer your chair to a woman unless she is pregnant or elderly.
      That is great that your parents drilled them. Mine were drilled too. I did go to Catholic school for 12 years which helped. I just can’t believe how many have forgotten all about them!
      Thanks David!

  17. I had a door slam shut in my face just yesterday when I was leaving the gym. I was right behind the guy but he was too interested with what he was doing on his phone. I was irritated even more because he was older than me and I thought he should have known better! But, age doesn’t always mean smarter, nicer or better manners.

  18. I continue to be imbued with outdated ideas on discipline. Never mind needing a chalk man – I would have swatted that little brat within seconds! And that is the length of time it would have taken him to improve those manners.
    I *blush* still open doors or pull out chairs for ladies, and allow them or those older than myself (who can still walk :) ) to go ahead of me.
    That way, as my father explained, they go into danger first.

    • They go into danger first???? Hahaha! Let them be eaten by the tiger…:) Good for you anyway.
      I don’t think children are being disciplined either. I don’t even think some of them are familiar with time out. There are some adults that could use the chalkboard, dunce cap and chair in the corner…. :)

  19. I think it’s sad that we have to be reminded of being kind and to be mindful of others. It just makes sense, to me, anyway. I’ve often found that when people are rude, if I’m nice, despite their being rude, they suddenly become nicer. It doesn’t always work (and I’ve had my bad days as well), but it’s that karma thing. Do good and it comes back.

    • I agree about Karma. People can all be going through stuff and I’ve had my share, but I can’t imagine being rude just because I am having a bad day.
      Sometimes I feel like John Belushi too when he tries to cheer up the guy whose car he totals in Animal House. Remember? I would rather be the smiling goof ball than the crepe hanger any day!
      Good for you! Keep up the positivity!

  20. That video was a delightful blast from the past. As a rule we Canadians have been known to be a polite bunch, often to a fault. We still have our share of buffoons, however, that could take a lesson from Chalky.

    • I so agree! The farther north you go! I am from Wisconsin where manners rule. Out here in the west, I am often put off by the lack of good manners. I guess I just have to walk the walk and put it out there as a good example. It can’t hurt and it will create a little cosmic bubble! :)

  21. Coming back up the path to where I parked my car I passed a young couple on their way to the beach where I had just been. I was about to say hello or good morning and I saw that they were not even acknowledging that anyone else was walking by them. Rude ignoramuses. I could have insisted and said good morning and made them notice me, but it wasn’t being noticed that I was after. What ever happened to a friendly greeting as you walk by a person, especially when there isn’t another soul around?

    • I know!!! There are so many rude people out there.

      In Wisconsin last week, I was walking my parent’s collie to the park. It was cold and a young woman bundled up in a hat scarf and sunglasses caught my attention as she crossed the street and to walk on the path about 30 yards ahead of me. She waved. How nice was that? I don’t think that would happen out here.
      I am going to make a concerted effort to be friendly and maybe it will have a ripple effect!

  22. At the airport I was about to receive a part-down , but before commencing the lady looked me in the eyes, smiled and said hello. It made all the difference to my experience. You are right, manners are good :) ~Catherine

  23. You’ve got my vote, Susie! How much does it cost to smile, hold a door open, let someone with one item go ahead of your overloaded grocery cart? We’ve got to keep working at it! As much as the rest of the world likes to say the French are rude, I find being greeted with “Bonjour, madam” when I walk into a store and being wished “Bonne journée” when I leave … every time … adds an element of respect and decency to whatever I’m doing. Let’s keep attempting to pay it forward. Good manners are cool!

    • Last summer, I found the French to be extremely well-mannered and friendly, even in Paris!
      I guess we can all do our part and at least create a little bubble of goodness around ourselves. :)
      They are cool!

  24. Susie, you are so right! The move to Las Vegas has been a huge culture shock for me, a country boy from the corn and soybean fields of Michigan. People are very rude here, don’t hold doors too often and constantly drive like complete so and so’s everywhere. Someone pulled in front of me at a local intersection yesterday. Could have been tragic but I was paying attention. I can’t agree more with you, manners have taken a back seat to the ” I am always first” culture in America and it stinks. This has been a tough adjustment period for me… Glad your well!!

    • Thanks John!
      The best thing you can do is not succumb to their lack of good manners. I think that’s what is happening all over. We have to be brave and keep on smiling!!! Glad you saw the guy before he hit you!

      • I would have hit them, right in the driver door. All this nonsense has had me wondering why I came here. Vegas and the climate are awesome. The valley is beautiful. The people are – not always so beautiful. It’s everywhere, but augmented by 2 million people stuffed into a 20×30 valley.

  25. I am probably the quintessential jaded New Yorker, Susie, but it seems to me that the denser the population, the higher the stress and the lower the manners. Hence, the classic rude New Yorker buried in her Kindle who would not step out of the way as the throng exited the subway at Times Square during the morning rush. I thought this woman behaved like quite an orifice (and not the ear canal), but I kept my pie-hole shut. I think manners still have a chance of surviving in places with space, but where I live, I just try not to add to the incivility.

    • So what’s up with Boulder? We are hardly a dense population although there seem to be a number of dense people who have moved here without any sort of consideration for others. I think it comes from falling out of the habit. It sure doesn’t take much effort to smile and be nice, at least not for me. Some may think their faces might crack…:)

  26. It’s still pretty common for people to hold the door open for you here – and keep holding it until the person behind you can grab it.
    We have noticed “newcomers from other states” (not immigrants) seem to either be surprised or even irritated.
    When in Rome, people, do as the locals…or leave, please.
    How much time does it cost you? How hard is it to smile?
    If everyone just did a few little kind things, all of society might be less tense and stressed.(Congrats on that internship -understand those are getting hard to get. Gives a whole new view of things sometimes)

    • Our social norms are going down the toilet, I don’t understand why it is so hard for some people. Do they think its childish?
      Courtney is thrilled to be working for the Colorado Rapids Soccer Team this semester! Thanks Phil!

  27. I try to hold the door for people when I can, but it can occasionally get awkward when the other person thinks they have to run to make it through the door.

  28. It’s also ridiculously easy to show basic consideration.

    • So true! It should be habit-forming since most of us get an endorphin rush when we do something nice for others. Its another way of putting out positive energy or keeping yourself in a little bubble of happiness!

      • sunshinebright

        Whenever I’m with people, I smile. It’s so easy and does feel good. I live near my sister, and when we’re together, people refer to us as the smiley sisters! Actually, I don’t remember my Mom teaching us about manners; however, I do remember she had a soft manner about her (oops, there’s that word) and her whole family were always very nice and soft-spoken. So, I guess some of that positive, mannerly image made quite an unconscious impression. BTW, there’s a reason for the name of my blog.

        • That is so great and NICE! Your mom sounds lovely. I almost named my blog, 300 Sunny Days in Colorado since we get them and it reflects my upbeat personality.
          Love the name of your blog!

  29. It all breaks down to one word, I think, Susie. Respectful. And there’s too little of it nowadays.

  30. Some manners are universal. Others, I’ve found, are regional. Being born and raised in the south, my parents drilled ‘sir’ and ma’am into my head, but if you say that to a person from the north, they tell you it makes them feel old! One land’s manners is another land’s insults!

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