I grew up in a relaxed household. My father worked outside of the house, 10 hours Monday – Friday and 6 hours on Saturdays. My mother worked in the house. For years we, (my sister, brother, and I) had no idea what our father did but we knew what our mother did. She cooked our meals, cleaned up after us, saw that we were very well taken care of. Mom taught us all that etiquette was to always make people feel comfortable around us. I’ve instilled that in my own children. We learned that lesson more by seeing it in our parents than anything else.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve found myself offended by just being around some people. The kid walking down the sidewalk in front of me that has his pants down to his knees, the young girl at the register that has huge sucker marks around her neck, or the people that have huge gaping holes in their ears that you can actually see through to the other side of them. Let’s not forget about those folks that have more rings in their faces than on their fingers or in their ears. I’ve actually walked out of restaurants because I’d literally lost my will to eat anything.
My own daughter walked into our home one afternoon, after shopping with friends, with a little stud in the side of her nose. It didn’t take long for her to remove it. I think she knew that it would be less painful to remove it herself, than for me to do it. Her defense was that “everyone’s doing it.” My response was not what her friends were expecting but it was effective enough to get that thing out of my site and out of her nose as quickly as humanly possible.
Living in a small town has it’s good points as well as it’s not so good points. I can remember the day I walked out of my office and saw a young lady walking towards me. I took a double take and she laughed. Now, I have no problem with dressing up for Halloween parties, shoot the entire month of October is fair game. But this was not October. She had obviously colored jet back hair on top and blood red underneath, with a purple stripe down the back of her head. I’ve been to the city before but seeing this kind of thing in our small town was not an everyday thing. A week later, I walked into a diner across the street and who came to take my order? The black/red/purple lady with a huge hog ring hanging out of her nose and some kind of spike thing protruding from her cheek. That wasn’t all. She’d added some king on miniature barbell looking things in the top of her fingers.
I could hear Dorothy saying that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore as I looked up at her.
“Hi, what can I get you?” She asked.
I really wanted to say a blind fold but I didn’t. I politely pushed my chair back and said that I’d just remember an appointment and wouldn’t have time for lunch just then.
I was so disappointed in myself. Not only had I allowed that girl to offend me to strongly, I’d also allowed her to induce me to lie to her just so she wouldn’t be offended. It didn’t matter that she had offended me. I’d be willing to bet that she had no clue how much she’d offended me. By my making an excuse and leaving without saying anything, I was enabling her to continue with this freaky and unacceptable weirdness.
I changed my ideas right then and there. Now, I’ll go to the trouble of pushing the button to role my windows down and holler out at boys walking around with their pants down. “Hey, If I go and buy you a belt, would you wear it?” I returned to the diner and politely asked the owner if she was really that hard up for help, she should consider closing the doors. Then I walked out. I got a call a few days later informing me that my next meal was on her. She’d let the girl go and her business had actually picked up. In the grocery store I’ve had people clap when I’ve told cashiers that I bet her mothers appreciate the way they were advertising that she had become a little harlot.
When people respect me and my business, I will respect them. When people show me etiquette, I will show them etiquette. I’m tired of lowering my own standards to prevent from offending someone else that clearly has no standards to speak of.
The forms required by good breeding, or prescribed by authority, to be observed in social or official life; observance of the proprieties of rank and occasion; conventional decorum; ceremonial code of polite society.