When I was growing up, my mother and father taught me a lot when it came to manners and respecting others. One of my earliest memories is when we were visiting my Aunt Miriam. Yes, you heard me right – Aunt Miriam; one of my favorite names. My two brothers and myself were sitting in our own comfy chairs at my aunt’s house when in came several adults. My brothers and I just kept sitting in our comfy chairs, only to hear my father say, “Give your chair to the adults.” That meant, sit on the floor. And we did. When my father said move, you moved! No questions asked. We were the children.
From that day forward, I knew when an adult entered the room and there was no place to sit, that the adult got the seat. We learned to respect our elders. In Japan, age outranks everything. The elderly are held in the highest esteem. I don’t recall ever seeing a child, or younger adult taking the seat of an older person, although, that was in the 60’s. Wow – I am aging myself.
Flash forward about 25 years. I walk into a relative’s house and there is no place to sit. There happens to be a young teenage boy in a seat. He does not offer his seat, and his parents do not ask him to offer it. I sit on the floor. Wow!! So, in just 25 years, I see a change, but keep in mind that this is not the norm. Most men, children and young adults still offer their seat to someone older.
Five years ago, a woman using crutches, carrying her purse, was going into the local drug store. It was obvious that she was having a bit of trouble. I noticed a person walking in with her, only to see – oh, yes, you see it coming – he did not open the door for her even though it almost slammed in her face. I was still in my car and couldn’t help her.
Around the same time, I went to one of Dayton’s finest restaurants. I walked in to see men and women sitting at the bar, waiting on their table, while older women are standing. One or two do offer their seats, yet some still stay seated. I understand that it is 2012, and that women want to be treated equally, but we’re talking about women that deserve that bit of respect and courtesy, even in 2012.
Flash forward to last Saturday, the reason why I have written all of the above. I took my grandchildren to breakfast Sunday late morning. Keeping in mind it is late Sunday and it is going to be busy and a 20-minute wait, I knew that I might have to stand and so would my grandchildren. I saw two older people walk in together; one had a cane and the other with a walker. There was a lovely couple in their mid 20’s, sitting in the waiting area. Keep in
mind that the couple with the cane and walker had to walk right past them. They DID NOT offer their seat to either person. Instead, an older couple offered their seat. I wish there was a funny story in this, but there really isn’t. This bothered me so much I had to make this my next etiquette column. Although, this really isn’t about etiquette, it’s about simple respect, courtesy and manners.
I realize that for the most part, people have, and do teach their children to be respectful of their elders, and men to be courteous to women. There may even be reasons why they don’t offer their chairs. Maybe they are not feeling well or have physical problems that aren’t readily apparent.
On the flip side, I have seen the kindness of men and women offering their seat to their elders. They are aware of their surroundings. To them I say, Thank You. Your parents taught you well.