I’ve been feeling a little old lately, and it’s not only because of the passing of Michael Jackson or the fact that, at some point this year, I’ll be turning 50.

The latest thing seems to be this assault on what I consider as common courtesy, or at least how it used to be defined. I say that because I’ve recently had two people, one I’ll ‘out’ and the other I won’t, who have said that my thoughts on the subject are antiquated.

A few nights ago on Twitter, I was having a conversation with the one I’m not going to ‘out’. It was based on a communication that someone we both know had send through to Twitter. This young man was out somewhere with a bunch of his friends, and decided to Twitter it.

I was of the opinion that if you’re out with friends, your attention should be on them, unless they’ve left you alone. My friend said that’s not how things are done today, and that it’s okay to communicate with other people, no matter the situation. I said I felt that was discourteous, and my friend said that’s just how it is today, and that I needed to move into the 21st century. Of course, this friend of mine does the same thing to me on a consistent basis when we go out to breakfast sometimes, and even at a planned event at his hose last week, with a couple other people there, he paused for the cause and was reading some of his Twitter messages. I expect it now because it’s him, but I don’t necessarily like it. And he knows this, by the way.

I find that kind of thing strange. So, on Tuesday, I was walking with my wife at the park, and I mentioned the conversation and some other things, and she said it had to be me wanting the attention more than any perception of courtesy. I said that I was of the opinion that if someone chose to be with you for awhile that it seemed implied that it was only the two of you, and that was that; after all, that’s how it was in the past. She said that if someone needed to make a quick call during an informal meeting that it wasn’t such a big deal. I agreed to that, but I asked what if it were a 20 minute conversation while you were out at dinner. She said she wouldn’t like it, but she’d roll with it for awhile, and if it went longer then she’d leave. I said why should it be allowed to go that far and that long, and didn’t she see it as terrible “customer service?” She said that’s just how it is today, and that no one cares anymore about common courtesy.

I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that. I can’t believe that common sense has been lost to such a degree that people have no clue when they’re being rude. And yet, maybe I’m wrong. Years ago I wrote about a customer service fiasco I suffered through at a very high class store. I had a minor complaint, and the first person I went to kept talking to her friend on the phone while taking care of me, never speaking to me except her final statement, telling me I had to go to, of all things, customer service. Then customer service complained about their process instead of taking care of me, went off to complain about the person who’d sent me to her, then had me overhear someone else making a derogatory statement about me making my complaint, without realizing I was just around the corner. Common sense indeed; not.

Someone please tell me my thinking isn’t all that antiquated, that someone does still care about being treated properly, and that treating someone else properly isn’t going away from America for good. My faith in people is somewhat shaken, and that’s making me feel really old these days. Please tell me, is common courtesy dead?

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