In my travels about the country in the past week, I've noticed that good manners in the American culture are slipping. No, not even slipping. Horribly absent. I'm not even talking about using the wrong fork here, folks, but things that should be second nature, and aren't. It seems that in this "me" society, that no one thinks of others before themselves. What has happened to please and thank you? (I've trained my husband now. He didn't bother with it when we were first married.) Those are the barest essential elements of good manners and it appears that it has become passe to use even those niceties. Don't even get me started about chivalry, or the people in the airport barrelling over you with not even an apology thrown over their shoulder as they race to another gate. Opening the doors for other people? Helping someone struggling with a load? It might be a little more prevalent in the south of the United states, but not much.
Due to the training I've been giving my own sons, the qualities in them that I'm trying to make second nature to them, I've noticed that, aside from their father, they don't have very many good role models in men. Their little friends don't open the doors for their mother, they don't help unload groceries from the car, and they have attrocious table manners.
Table manners! Good heavens above! I know formal American table manners, like where to put your knife and fork when you're finished eating to signal the waiter that you've finished your meal, as well my way around a place setting, but I'm talking the basics. For children, for adults, for everyone. Put your napkin in your lap. Close your mouth when you chew. Don't talk with food in your mouth. Sit up straight (Posture. Don't even get me started.) and bring the food to your mouth, don't hunch over your plate like someone might take it from you. Keep your elbows off the table. Don't salt the food without tasting it first. You do not belch, burp, or anything worse at the dinner table. EVER. Don't begin eating before the host does, unless directed otherwise. When someone asks you to pass the salt, you pass it hand to hand, down the table, and you do not hold it hostage and use it first before passing it. (This is a pet peeve of mine.) Blot with a napkin, don't smear.
I'm not going to go in to how to eat soup, because we'd be here all day.
In short, having good manners nowadays sometimes means putting up with someone else's bad manners. But, if people were more aware of others and their feelings, it might come more naturally. Think of someone else first, for a change. And for heaven's sake, chew with your mouth closed.