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Civility is a forgotten and missed art in public places

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This started out to be one column to be sent out into the world at anytime. It has turned into more than that and I think the comments in these columns may be something to think about in the new year. They represent my thinking and those of a group of five younger friends who see my columns on a regular basis.

They have all responded to my suggestion that they send their “vents” to me for possible publication. So, here’s to 2012 with grumbles from this aging grouch and his friends, whose comments will be verbatim or, if edited, approved by the writers.

I was taught to say, “Thank you,” “please” and “Pardon me” at any early age. I was taught to take my cap off when I ate or when I entered a building or an elevator. I was taught to hold a door open for other people following me into a building or a room and especially to do so if the person was elderly or a woman.

I was taught to stand clear of subway or elevator doors so that people inside could exit without problems. I was taught to give up a seat on a train or a bus to an elderly person, a pregnant woman or someone who looked as if they needed it more than I did. How old-fashioned!

Today you will find no universal code of civility. I have taken to saying, “You’re welcome” fairly loudly to someone who thinks I am a personal doorman and has not the courtesy to express thanks. Too often that sarcasm is wasted on the recipient of it, but it makes me feel better.

What about the oafs who leave shopping carts in parking spaces and even in parking spaces for the handicapped?

What about the drivers who do not know how to signal a turn or to use their hazard lights when they are blocking traffic? Has the “Me Generation” managed to infect so much of our world?

One of the members of that generation, a critic of his peers, has written that “self comes first” with this group. That seems to sum up the attitude of too many people, not just his generation.

How about people who publicly demean others and then offer an “apology” which begins, “If I have offended anyone,” etc., which means, “Dummy, if you feel offended, too bad, because you deserve nothing else.”

Then there are the movie scenes where the background “reality” noise is so great and the dialogue is drowned out, but considering the state of the dialogue, that may be all too good.

And how about those commercials where the music or what passes for music is so loud and persistent that the item or items being advertised are almost impossible to understand. That may be just as well, but it is annoying.

How about waiting for a “customer representative” to talk with you? You are assured, again and again, for many minutes that your call is important. This is usually accompanied by loud noises which, I assume, some people think may be music. This is a way of telling you, the valuable customer, to get lost.

Is it possible to have people open their mouths when they speak? Mumbling is not a good thing, but, of course, many of these youths have nothing of value to say. Too many in the population seem not to have been able to get over their childish voices, something which is evident in radio, television and films.

Can we start abolishing, “You know” and return to a breath and a pause before the next comment?

Local TV news relies on film for stories. The world can be coming to an end, but if there are no pictures, it is back to the latest traffic tie-up. The male anchors on some of these shows — in which the various players seem to be there to have a good time, news or no news — are clearly, in many cases, failed actors who preen and pontificate before the camera and would not know a news story if it bit them.

Next time: The five friends begin their comments.

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