Mind Yer Manners

Is it just me or have good manners gone the way of trail drives?   I have three grandchildren working summer jobs and I’m appalled at the stories they tell about customer rudeness.

It didn’t always used to be that way.  Back in the Old West, manners ruled.  A cowboy might have been rough around the edges and whooped-it-up on occasion, but he also knew his Ps and Qs.  To show you what I mean, let’s compare today’s manners with those of the past.

Hitting the Trail:  Navigating some of today’s roads is like steering through a metal stampede. It’s every man/woman for his/her self.  Cars ride on your tail and cut you off. To stay on the defense, today’s drivers must contend with drunkenness, speeding and texting—and that ain’t all.  If this doesn’t make you long for the good ole days, I don’t know what will.

The Cowboy Way: When riding a horse, a cowboy would never think of cutting between another rider and the herd.  Nor would he ride in such a way as to interfere with another man’s vision. Crossing in front of another without a polite, “Excuse me” would not have been tolerated.  As for riding drunk; that would have gotten a wrangler fired on the spot.

Please and Thank You:  Recently I saw a young man hold a restaurant door open for a young woman.  Instead of saying thank you, she chewed him out. Oh, me, oh, my. What is the world coming to?

The Cowboy Way: The first man coming to a gate was expected to open it for the others. Everyone passing through would say thank you.  Holding a door open for a lady went without saying, as did tipping his hat and saying a polite, “Howdy, ma’am.” Back in the old days, a cowboy might have gotten a smile from the lady, but he sure wouldn’t have gotten a tongue-lashing.

Cell Phones: I could probably rattle on about poor cell phone manners, but for me, loud talking is the worst offense.  During a recent visit to the emergency room, I was privy to every patient’s medical condition and more. 

The Cowboy Way: Those early cowboys didn’t have cell phones, of course, which is probably a good thing; A ringing phone would have startled the cattle and maybe even the horses.  John Wayne wasn’t talking about cell phones when he said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much,” but that’s not bad advice.  Especially in the ER.

So what do you think?  Are good manners a thing of the past or are they still very much alive?

 

 

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Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 40 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! A Match Made in Texas is available for pre-order now. Margaret's stories also appear in the 12 Brides of Christmas, Pioneer Christmas and Second Chance at Star Inn collections. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

46 Comments

  1. Good morning Margaret- I agree the manners in which the younger generation Have could be called null and void. I grew up saying yes & no ma’am or sir, thank you, please, & most importantly may I help you. It’s really sad and you are right about cell phones… you get to hear some pretty crazy conversations and some you want to block from your memory.
    I’m glad I grew up during a time when things were more simple than they are today, I respected my elders, and learned to work hard for my pay. Nowadays kids can’t work without a cell phone in their hand.
    The Cowboy way isn’t gone completely, out on the ranches and in the Feedyards here in KS, OK, & TX, I know for a fact they still apply. I visited Wyoming this summer and they just might be the friendliest and politest folks I’ve ever met. So I’m glad to see there are still some “good ole folks” among us. You have a wonderful day. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

    1. I was raised the same way! I agree some are still raised this way but it’s fewer and fewer.

    2. Hi Tonya, it’s good to know that you can still find good manners in today’s fast-paced world. It sure does make me want to visit a Feedyard. LOL

  2. This blog is spot on. Manners are few and far between these days in most places. There are some that were raised with and display the manners like in the cowboy days. My siblings and I were raised to how proper manners and use them. I say yes ma’am or sir to little kids even. I shudder to think what the children of this generations children will be like.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Yes, I was raised like that, too. As a child, I would never call an adult by his or her first name. That’s how we were taught to show respect.

  3. Margaret, this is so true! I think that’s why cowboy code appeals to so many people… that focus on doing it right, or just don’t do it.

    Wonderful post on manners and life!

    1. Hi Ruth, Thank you! I’m delighted that you’re now a filly. Welcome aboard!

  4. this touches on something that really bothers me. I work in a small senior cafeteria. They come to the counter and say gimme. No thoughts of please. When I was teaching it was even worse. You would be talking to someone, either student or teacher and another student would walk right between you and they had to put effort into doing that.

    1. Hi Debra, oh, no! Are you saying that even seniors have no manners? I hope I never get so old as to forget to say please and thank you.

  5. I totally agree, manners seem to have gone down the toilet lately. The ones that really bother me the most are when I see kids talking back to their parents. I know if I had done that when I was a kid, I would have had my butt swatted right there in front of everyone.

  6. Hi Janine,
    I would have had my butt swatted, too. Today, our parents would be arrested for child abuse. To me, letting a child grow up without good manners and respect for others is child abuse.

  7. Hi Margaret–when I taught school, every now and again we’d hear a parent complain that “the school isn’t teaching my child manners.” Imagine that! We were supposed to show up with manners back in the day. That said, I’ve had some students with excellent manners and they served as a role model for others. Nice post!

    1. Hi Jeannie, yes I remember hearing something like that from a parent or two when I taught. Actually, I did insist on good manners in the classroom, but a teacher can only do so much.

  8. Sadly, manners are not being taught much today by parents. I aim to make sure my kids are full of them!

    1. Good for you, Susan! It might take awhile, but one day they’ll appreciate having a mother like you.

  9. Manners are not taught any more like they use to be. I taught my so to have manners but parents don’t do that any more. Some do but most don’t.

    1. Hi Quilt Lady,
      I blame a lot of it on cell phones. Recently I was in a restaurant where two children were having a food fight. Their mother was too busy on her cell phone to notice.

  10. There’s really no excuse for not teaching your children manners but sadly I think many aren’t doing their jobs. I realize people are busy but that is just part of being a parent.

    1. Hi Catslady,

      I don’t know that today’s parents are any busier than in the past.I just read that the average person spends two hours a day on social media. It’s hard to imagine a pioneer woman having that much time to waste.

  11. I think good manners are so important. Sometimes I look around and wonder if some were absent when good manners were taught. My grandchildren are being taught well and it is a pleasure to experience their wonderful manners.

    1. Hi Melanie, yes, my grandchildren have been taught good manners, too. (With a little nudge from grandma). Aren’t we blessed?

  12. Manners are something have to be taught, then used on daily basics to keep them. Like most that posted, I was taught to respect my elders. I was told and taught to call people Mister, Mrs, or Miss. That lesson so ingrained that a few elderly people from my childhood have asked me to call them by their first names, and I have told them, sorry, you will always be, Mrs. –.
    I taught computer skills in an elementary school, and insisted on manners in my classroom. And when I see people that call me Miss Veda, I know what school they went to.
    I still will hold a door for people, I say please thank you. And when I see a small child using manners I always respond to them. So it isn’t a list art, it is just the examples people are seeing around them for the most part aren’t using any kind of manners.

    1. Hi Veda, I also had trouble calling older folks from my childhood by their first names. I’m a boy scout counselor and the boys have been taught to call their counselors Mr. or Mrs. The Boy Scouts still follow that old cowboy code, which is why I enjoy working with them.

  13. I really, really wish someone would translate Ulkokultaisen käytöksen kirja eli eurooppalaisten tapojen tarina (The book of hypocritical manners or the story of European manners) By Ari Turunen and Markus Partanen in English. It’s a really fun and educational book to read. Already the ancient Egyptians complained that “people have no manners nowadays”! So there’s really nothing new under the sun…

    1. And what is good manners now wouldn’t have been consired to be good manners hundreds of years ago and vice versa. For instance opening doors for women: it might be good manners now, but when the oh so brave knights invented it, no sane woman would have thought it was good manners. Why? Well, the knights let the women go first from the door in case there was an assasin on the other side…

      1. Minna, is that true about the knights? Wow. That puts a whole different light on chivalry and courtly manners, doesn’t it?

        1. That bit of information was also from the book I mentioned and based on what I’ve learned about knights, the so called chivalry and courtly manners from books and history documentaries, yeah, I think it’s true. The picture we have about knights and chivalry is all thanks to Victorian authors and artists and it has very little to do with the reality of a real medieval knight.

          1. Minna, that’s really interesting. Disappointing, but interesting.

      2. Oh my gosh! I’ve never heard that, Minna. Thanks!

    2. Minna, how interesting. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.

  14. I think as a whole, that manners are lacking. But you can still find them in some areas, some families, etc!!

    1. Hi Katie, I’m just surprised that I’m the only one so far to complain about rude drivers. Does that mean that drivers in the rest of the country are more courteous than they are here in California? Hmm…

  15. How people drive so rudely these days is a good metaphor for modern life as a rat race with no time for manners, or so it seems to me. Since I retired I try to make appointments NOT anywhere near rush hours when I can because of how dangerously some folks drive.

    I think having one’s face constantly in a screen is another evil of modern life—as if there weren’t real live people all around you. It’s another metaphor for being keyed in all of the time—that God forbid we mustn’t have any quiet, down time to think or just be.

    1. Hi Eliza, I try to schedule to avoid rush hour, but it seems that rush hour now extends from dawn to dusk. It seems like no one works anymore. I think the lack of “thinking” time explains a lot of the craziness going on these days. Hope you enjoy some quiet time.

  16. Hi Margaret,
    I agree with you! But I often think the sales people are also rude. I was waiting to pick up a birthday cake for a family member, and the girl at the bakery made me listen to her talk to her boyfriend on the phone for 5 min before she helped me. I went looking for someone else and then finally, she got off the phone! A young kid, but still, it’s her job to take care of the customer first. I didn’t want to get her fired, so I didn’t speak to the manager, but my head was about to explode.

    1. Hi Charlene, that’s terrible. I wonder where the manager was. You’re a better woman than me. I’m afraid I would have complained.

  17. It’s so very sad to see that manners seem to become a thing of the past. My daughter held the door for an elderly woman last week and this poor woman was so stunned she stood there staring at my daughter and said she was grateful and hadn’t had a young person hold a door open in years. That’s just sad. This generation doesn’t seem to even consider manners.

    1. Hi Carol, congratulations for bringing your daughter up right. She made someone very happy.

  18. Good manners do exist. We’re trying to instill them in our children. Holding the door open, saying please and thank you and no, thank you, giving up a bus or subway or train seat to the young and elderly and those in need of a seat more than us….I was taught these manners by my grandfather and I hope these manners stay with my children and beyond.

    1. MH, we need more parents like you. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Manners are so important especially as we walk out this Christian life. Thank you for this great post!

    1. You’ve very welcome, Caryl. Thank you for stopping by.

  20. Maybe good manners depend on where you are? I live in a semi-rural area with ranches around. In our county seat, no one blocks a drive or a street while waiting at a traffic light, for example. Sometimes I think we thank everyone for everything 🙂 But I notice when I’m in major metropolitan areas, consideration and politeness are a tad harder to experience. Still there, but not as often.

    Love the John Wayne quote, Margaret!

    1. Nancy, I think you’re right. The hustle and bustle of city life doesn’t seem to leave much room for good manners. I liked the John Wayne quote, too.

  21. Sad to say manners seem to be a thing of the past. Any more, speed limits, stop signs, etc seem to be suggestions not the law. I returned this afternoon from a trip of about 600 miles each way. on the way there, I kept up with traffic and caught myself doing at least 10 miles an hour or more over the speed limit. I was bringing someone for an appointment, so let it slide. On the way home, I kept my cruise set on the speed limit. Few people stayed behind me, many tailgated (very closely) even though I was in the right lane. Don’t get me started on traffic merging for construction zones. If people would get over when notified of a merge things would go so much more smoothly. Instead, they push to the front and cut off people who have been in that lane. It took me one hour to go 3 miles today while the lanes that were supposed to merge with ours kept flying by. In the past, I have seen big rigs drive abreast or straddle the lane line to keep this from happening. Today there were as many of those drivers cutting in line ahead. If everyone would alternate would go so much more smoothly.
    Lets not get into the atmosphere of not letting people who do not agree with you have their say. Except for speech intending to instigate fighting or property destruction, we should be willing to hear people out, whether we agree with them or not. In all but extreme cases, both sides have something of value to say and have the right to be heard. Why should you be afraid to hear a different opinion and be willing to discuss the issues with an open mind? The point of it all is to better understand each other and to find ways to work together.

    1. Hi Patricia B,
      I know what you mean about speed limits. I can be doing 65, 70 on the 101 and cars pass me like I’m standing still. I’m glad you got back from your trip, safely.

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