Lady be civil

"The Real Atlanta Housewives" pulling hair in the street. Who does this?Everyone has weighed in on the rudeness of public figures recently. The consensus is that it was inexcusable when Kayne West stole the spotlight from Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards. The congressman who called the president a liar was a boor — no matter what your political beliefs. And no one appreciated Venus Williams’s crash-court behavior. They were clearly out of control, entitled, and obnoxious. But at the end of the day, let’s face it darlings, incivility has become a way of life and it is dragging us all down.

 
Raised voices, crude talk, bad manners, sloppy clothes, and pitching a fit have all become the stuff of daily life. Bosses think they have the right to demean employees and be unpleasant as long as they observe certain company-sanctioned rules and language. Men and women use the excuse of being stressed as an excuse for all types of unpleasant behavior — from bad driving, crude language, and fits of temper to downright surliness. Well darlings, we are all stressed sometimes. There is nothing new about it.
 
But I am pretty sure stress has not made going to the movies torture. When I was younger, teenagers usually talked and carried on in theatres and in restaurants; now it is often seniors. Their behavior is crazy. In the last month, we have had near riots at our local art house. At one showing, four senior adults insisted on talking loudly throughout the show. Later several people told them how rude they had been. They had no shame or remorse and took loud exception to being corrected. They did not have any medical impairment; they were just rude, truculent, and inconsiderate. Teenagers often text and talk through films and refuse to stop too.
 
Hostesses today often complain that guests refuse to RSVP promptly, even for special occasions. This is the height of incivility. The reasons for doing this range from waiting for a better invitation to carelessness. Both these excuses are so rude, they are beyond the pale. Darlings, it is inexcusable to ignore an invitation.
 
Recently, while dining with friends at a nice restaurant, we had our evening marred by group of mostly women who were so loud they were impossible to ignore. They obviously had too much to drink, they were shrill and vulgar, and they looked cheap and foolish. The women were only steps from their place of employment. They were lucky their bosses did not stop by. 
 
Recently, I was in a lovely hosiery boutique where I shop frequently. It is closing, a casualty of the recession. I felt badly for the women who work there. As I commiserated with them, a rude woman chimed in: “but think of the bargains you are getting, 50 percent off!” How insensitive can you get? These women are losing their jobs! I controlled myself and said to her, "but where will you shop when this lovely store is gone?" I did not want to up the level of incivility.
 
Many things have landed us in this hornet’s nest of bad behavior. I don’t think women working has contributed to it. I was brought up around women who worked and they were as tough on manners as the moms who stayed at home. I think sloppiness in dress slops over into manners. ‘Casual Friday’ has led to a lot of too-casual behavior.
 
Whatever the reasons, it has to stop — along with other bad behavior that has sunk us into our current morass. We all have a bad day sometimes; stress is real and it is a killer. But learn to manage it. Get help if it is bad. And try to change the bad situation in your life that is causing it. You deserve to live with dignity and light. Remember there are laws against openly-abusive bosses. You have recourse even in this economy.
 
For everyday stress, try to take a deep breath, or a walk, or do yoga, or talk to a friend. Count your blessings, and avoid drama! If you treat someone badly, apologize. Do it quickly, simply, and make it heartfelt. Write thank you notes. Move away quickly from bad people, or people who are bad for you. You don’t need a reason or an explanation – just go. My mentors taught me that no one likes drama, abuse, or nasty gossip. Keep your chit-chat fun, even if it is a bit gossipy. Steer clear of nasty. Relationships must be give and take, so help others to shine. It will make your light all the brighter.
 
Darlings, it sounds simple, but it is harder than it sounds. It makes life easier once you get it done. Drama queens suck the life out of you and give little back. Unnecessary drama often leads to rudeness. It’s really isn’t possible to be nice to everybody all the time. Someone may take advantage of you, but it is possible to be civil. Polite is good place to go when people want too much or are too nosy. A simple ‘I’ll have to let you know’ or ‘what an interesting question’ gets rid of the worst offenders.
 
I am not advocating Pollyannaish behavior, or fading into the corner with a polite smile. Far from it. I am all about ladies with verve, snap, and style. I encourage you to speak up, say your piece, and have a mind of your own, but do it with style. Be polite and always be lady.
 
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