Manners will still carry you through the world

February 23, 2018

Every year it gets worse, it seems. There is a growing absence of civility and courtesy in the way we interact with each other in this country. This is not new. I have been talking about this for years, with the hope that somehow we would get better. Unfortunately, we have gotten worse.

For those of us in media, it has become so commonplace that we barely recognise it anymore. For example, you are at a press conference where there are multiple speakers and each will greet the audience when it is their turn to speak. "Good morning!," they will say, and you can literally hear people straining to respond.

Some speakers will force it out by repeating the greeting, and that usually generates a more positive response. Often, though, the speaker will get into his or her address, I suppose accustomed to the general lack of response to such a greeting.

On a personal level, it is even more jarring. Just before Valentine's Day, I was in the plaza trying to find a gift for my wife. When I entered a store, and said to the clerk, "Good day!," she looked at me like I had just kicked her in the stomach. I was kind of expecting her to respond, but she didn't. She just sat there stone-faced, so I went in search of a more receptive employee.

I encounter this time and time again, and it is, to me, disturbing. While growing up, I was taught that it takes nothing to offer a friendly greeting, thus, phrases like 'good morning', 'excuse me', 'please', 'thank you', and 'have a nice day' are a part of my daily routine.

And I am sure there are many others just like me out there who have similar issues. Nonetheless, it is disturbing that so many of us have become so indifferent and seem to feel like they are being assaulted when someone offers greetings.

It might not seem like much, but these are the little things that make a big difference to the way we are perceived by our peers and those visiting.

There was a time when Jamaicans were seen as being warm and friendly. That belief is now a myth perpetrated by tourists and Jamaicans who are not in touch with what has become a sad reality. Opening a door for someone to walk through should be met with a simple 'thank you', but somehow people walk through as if they are somehow entitled to that treatment.

And, to be honest, it is really sad.

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